The way things are now, the music industry encourages everyone to like a single type of music - even only a single artist. Groups that don't necessarily have any talent are the ones forced upon the masses - but there's an easy fix for all this.

Right now, the record industry takes all but a few cents on the dollar for each album sold by an artist. Because of this, you have to be hugely popular just to get by - so let's look at our situation.

  • Songs are sold through albums, which average $15 for maybe 13 tunes.
  • Artists get - from a generous publisher - three cents on the dollar. That's 45 cents an album sold. Many artists get much less than this.
  • We have MP3s now. Get the picture?

Artists have their own websites, with very high-speed connections. In a short time, just about everyone in the country will have xDSL, or some other fast line. By eliminating the middle-man - the record industry - artists can charge, say, 5 cents per song and STILL come out ahead of what they'd have gotten through selling CDs. Music costs so little this way, piracy will die out - it's easier just to spend the five cents than to run around Napster searching for a tune. Everybody's happy!

On top of everything, it'll be harder to rise to the top without any talent, and there won't be any more CDs that sell for the one good song that hides on them. Access to the artists' websites? A huge database - free advertising - that lists all the artists that want to be listed, divided up into genres. Perfection.

Of course, it won't happen for another five years - but when it does, it'll be worth it.


Oh, no - I probably should have made this more clear, mrichich. The nickel would allow you to download the song, as many times as you wanted. Like an online CD player, not an online jukebox.
Not a bad idea, but I still hate the idea of pay per play being the only way to get my music.

My plan is slightly different--a single CD or other music media purchase entitles you to the right to listen to all the music on that album, in any format, from any system, into perpetuity. This is similar to the My MP3.Com model, in a way, but cross-platform, cross-media, and fair. I'd also like it that if there is any authentication of this, it not be traceable to an individual purchaser (ie, not separate license keys, but some way of only having a single key per media.) I'd really like it if people were just self-enforcing like they are with tape recordings or with MP3 files now (Napster and sharing services where people don't have rights to music notwithstanding.)

Now, if you want to broadcast your music to others you can, but you pay a little more. You can also give them pay per play and split the money with the record company and artist, or you can sell advertising and share the revenue from that. Or you can work out some other deal. This is what ASCAP and BMI do now--radio stations pay a licensing fee to those companies, and are allowed to rebroadcast all songs under their umbrella (most commercial music.)

The key is that once you've paid for it, you've paid for it, but if you want to do one-time use as well, you can. And, of course, independent artists can sell and license their music however they want.

Basically, I want copyright law to be molded to digital media in such a way that artists can still make money and I can preserve my privacy, and don't have to pay every time I listen to a Marillion album.

Bring back patronage. If it was good enough for the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, then it ought to be good enough for today.

An example, perhaps, will help make me clear.

If Mountain Dew (actually Pepsico) were to pay Rage Against The Machine $2 million annually for 6 new tracks per year then everyone would be in a better position than they are now. Rage would get to make whatever music they want, Mountain Dew would gain instant credibility (and, presumably, higher sales) among the rebellious teen-age market that they are pitching themselves to, and those rebellious kids would have access to the music that they like at no charge.

I'm convinced that the real solution to the present problems facing the music industry lies in rethinking the fundamental economics of music creation and distribution. Rather than the current model which doesn't reward bands for artistic production, doesn't allow for the sharing of music, and doesn't scale to a digital world we should seek something that more closely matches how real people listen to music.

Hmm, dg, methinks Rage Against the Machine would certainly not be able to make 'whatever music they wanted' if under contract from Pepsico. What if they wanted to make a song about the environmental and labor horrors of factory poultry farming. The suits at Pepsi would probably have a problem with this, given that they own KFC.

Not a lot of artistic license in your plan.

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