Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Mixed reception for U2 boss’s speech

During his keynote speech at this week’s MIDEM music conference, U2 manager Paul McGuinness blamed technology and telecommunication companies for the record industry’s current woes. McGuinness said that these companies had profited hugely from illegal downloads and that it was …

Fri, Feb 1, 2008, 09:11

   

During his keynote speech at this week’s MIDEM music conference, U2 manager Paul McGuinness blamed technology and telecommunication companies for the record industry’s current woes.

McGuinness said that these companies had profited hugely from illegal downloads and that it was time for them to share the cash.
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“They have built multi-billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it,” he argued. “It’s probably too late for us to get paid for the past, though maybe that shouldn’t be completely ruled out.

“The partnership between music and technology needs to be fair and reasonable. [Internet service providers] telcos and tech companies have enjoyed a bonanza in the last few years off the back of recorded music content. It is time for them to share that with artists and content owners.”

He also said that the music industry needed to “shift the focus of moral pressure” away from individual illegal downloaders and focus on “the multi-billion dollar industries that benefit from these countless tiny crimes”.

McGuinness, who negotiated an iPod deal for his clients U2 with Apple in 2004, believes that many of those behind the ascendant tech companies are showing “a disregard for the true value of music”, something embedded in their “entrepreneurial, hippy values”.

McGuinness’s speech predictably received plenty of plaudits from the record industry, but others were critical of his comments.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick pointed out that the real problem was that “just about every other industry has realised that there’s plenty of money to be made in the music industry”, yet “the segment of the market selling plastic discs is unwilling to take some simple steps to change its business model.”

Music industry observer Bob Lefsetz said that the speech showed – yet again – why “the music industry has to face reality”. People still want music, said Lefsetz, but “they don’t want to pay 1990s prices for it.”

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