Virtual Roundtable 1: Control and the Creative Industries - who really owns content? [Part II]
Oct 21, 2010

(This is a continuation of a 2-part article about the Virtual Roundtable 1.  To see what was said in the first part, please click here.)

Charles Caldas (CEO, Merlin, UK)
Martin J. Thörnkvist (Founder of Songs I Wish I Had Written, Media Market Analyst of Media Evolution, Sweden)
Vickie Nauman (VP North America, 7digital, USA)

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Do we need to change legislation in order to transform loss of control into an opportunity? If so, how?

Vickie Nauman: There definitely needs to be a reduction of complexity around music licensing globally -- with transactions at $.99 instead of $24.99, the level of revenue shares and licensing deals required no longer makes sense in the marketplace.  I am an advocate of having a simple licensing layer that sits in between content owners and application/service creators; reduce the gateholders and barriers for legal services, simplify, and sell more music at a lower cost.  

Martin J. Thörnkvist: From my point of view the legislation is just fine. What we need to do is to start thinking about the obligations that comes with a (copy) right .

What happened was that "we" decided to protect our rights by running to lawyers and politicians to whine about the need of new laws that enabled us to maintain our OLD way of doing business. We put rights first and our own business second instead of vice versa.

Charles Caldas: My view in terms of legislation is not so much to create systems that punish consumers or file sharers. I would rather see the creation of a legislative framework that encourages the creation of ubiquitous, new, and compelling business models that disincentivizes illegal consumption by ensuring equitable access to the market for all creators, and that needs to be a market focused on creating compelling consumer propositions.

Vickie Nauman: An important shift also needs to take place from a business strategy standpoint -- while there is a 90% piracy rate globally on digital music, we must also recognize that there ARE 10% of people who are buying music -- and we need to be smarter as a global industry to identify their characteristics and what they love, and create more compelling consumer offers that build upon that and attract more consumers like them.  There is a percentage of people who will never pay for music - this is toothpaste out of the tube and we need to accept it and focus on creating services and attractively priced music for those who will pay!

Charles Caldas: We have to satisfy our customers, and with the availability of efficient, centralized mechanisms by which to access repertoire on a global basis, it is easier than it has ever been for services to offer their customers a full choice. It is clear that in a market where all labels have access to market on sustainable terms - and where consumers can thus enjoy better, deeper and more compelling offerings - the likelihood of new services succeeding is far greater.

Martin J. Thörnkvist: We need to understand that those services are trying to build a future business for us; in other words, a way to sustain our right. Nobody knew about copyright before we failed to deliver our music in a way our fans wanted to consume it.

For that reason I'm a great advocate of Creative Commons licenses as a layer to copyright law. It's a really good way to communicate that we understand that our right comes with obligations because we clearly state how listeners can spread and build upon our work.

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Will there be a time when content producers and owners will regain control over their output?

Charles Caldas: In a healthy market, control becomes less of an issue. When there is a diverse, sustainable business environment in which creators can operate in the comfort where remuneration rewards their efforts, then control becomes more about trying to control how you get your content to the market rather than how you get paid.

Martin J. Thörnkvist: I don't feel that we lost [control]. It's obvious that we still have it. If we are good at arguing to people why they should pay us, I'm certain they will. A CD is not a good argument in 2010. Of course we need to be creative with the ways we make the music we love available. Unfortunately a good song isn't enough. And, again, this is an area where we need to team up with software developers. They are the ones with abilities to code future music products and platforms. And hey, that means we can focus on what we are really good at, developing music and artists!

Vickie Nauman: Yes - some of this is already happening at both the artist/band level as well as at smaller labels that have remained true to the music and their fans. I believe that music labels can still serve an important function to artist development and A&R - but "control" as a concept is less important than being smart and accepting the reality of our digital economy and adjusting overhead and business strategy in kind.

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