Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Free music. Well, free if you watch a few ads, provide your email address and promise to be nice to your parents

There’s plenty of free music doing the rounds in Cannes at the moment, as those music industry professionals who can afford to pay for their badges and overpriced hotel rooms gather for the MIDEM conference. Unlike SXSW or Eurosonic, MIDEM …

Mon, Jan 28, 2008, 14:04

   

There’s plenty of free music doing the rounds in Cannes at the moment, as those music industry professionals who can afford to pay for their badges and overpriced hotel rooms gather for the MIDEM conference.

Unlike SXSW or Eurosonic, MIDEM is one of the few music confabs which is more about the business than the music. Instead of gigs and bands, there are trade shows, exhbitions and polite men from Asia trying to buy and sell music catalogues.

This year, according to the Guardian, it’s all about free music with the likes of QTrax using the annual jolly in the south of France to launch themselves on the world.

Qtrax claims to offer more than 25m tracks, from all official releases by just about every major artist to so-called grey releases such as live bootlegs and alternate versions.

It claimed songs would be culled from the same peer-to-peer networks such as LimeWire and Gnutella that brought the industry to its knees, but filtered so viruses and spoof tracks are eradicated. Every time a song is downloaded by a user, they will be shown targeted advertising, and technology will ensure labels, publishers and artists are paid.

Advertisers include Burger King, Virgin Media, Ford, and H&M.

Interestingly, some of the record labels who would be providing the bulk of these 25 million tracks are claiming that they’ve not actually signed off on the deal yet.

The Guardian piece also compares and contrasts what’s on offer in the free music sphere from the likes of We7 (Peter Gabriel’s new bright idea), Imeem, MySpace, Facebook and Last.fm.

It’s fascinating to watch the complete capitulation of the record industry in this way. When they had an opportunity ten years ago to put their own stamp on the digital music sphere – when technology and telecoms came to them, caps in hand, looking for meetings – they completely messed it up. Instead of pouring the tea and handing around the biscuits, they sent in the lawyers.

Now, as it becomes obvious to all concerned that ignoring the problem by paying for some legal eagle’s brats to go through school was not the way to go, the record companies are trying their hand at the last chance saloon. Yeah, they really do resemble desperate gamblers at the roulette table.

Do the business affairs departments really believe that “targetted advertising” is going to provide the beans to replace traditional revenue streams? Or is it a case of any port in a storm, especially as traditional revenue streams are never ever going to come back into play?

I wonder is Guy Hands at MIDEM or does he realise that that game is up too.

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