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Online licensing snags may cost music industry its future

Posted on: 01/18/2008

From NewStatesman (UK): The future of music radio lies online, once there’s a way to pay artists fairly…

“When I think about the future of radio, I don’t think about DAB. Personalised internet radio is far more exciting. If you’ve never experienced it before, imagine this: you go to a website, and punch in the names of a few of your favourite musicians. Then, based on an “if you like that you’ll love this” technology, it plays you what it thinks you want to hear. You can train it, either by rating the songs it plays you, or by introducing it to your MP3 collection. The result is unadulterated audio pleasure, without a Smashie or Nicey in sight.

“Those to whom this sounds too good to be true will not be surprised that personalised internet radio has recently found itself in legal hot water. On 15 January, Pandora, a US-based personalised internet radio station, closed down its service to UK customers, having been unable to negotiate how to pay musicians a proportion of its profits [see RAIN coverage here, with great follow-up from UK radio vet James Cridland here]…

Last.fm, the UK’s personalised internet radio station, which last year sold for a reported £142m, is confident that it will continue to be able to offer its service in the UK…

“Radio has always been a way to expose listeners to new music they might like to buy, and personalised internet radio does this more efficiently and on a much larger scale… for what are the millions of illicit peer-to-peer file-sharers, but a huge potential market? Internet users are showing the industry how they want their music in the digital age.

“Licensing songs for broadcast on analogue radio probably looked incredibly complicated before anybody started doing it. Isn’t it time that the industry started responding to internet music fans, rather than fighting them?”

Read this editorial from Open Rights Group executive director Becky Hogge in NewStatesman, here.

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