Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Life’s a riot with Bragg vs Bebo

To most readers, Bebo is a social networking site hugely popular among Irish teens and school-goers. To musician and activist Billy Bragg, however, Bebo is a company who’ve become successful by using the creative blood, sweat and tears of musicians …

Fri, Mar 28, 2008, 02:52

   

To most readers, Bebo is a social networking site hugely popular among Irish teens and school-goers.

To musician and activist Billy Bragg, however, Bebo is a company who’ve become successful by using the creative blood, sweat and tears of musicians such as him to attract new members and advertisers.

Bragg’s attack on Bebo comes on the back of the sale of the site to AOL for $850 million.

Writing in the New York Times this week, Bragg wondered if some of this cash should be paid to acts whose music is streamed on the site.

“The musicians who posted their work on Bebo are no different from investors in a start-up enterprise,” argued Bragg. “Their investment is the content provided for free while the site had no liquid assets. Now that the business has reaped huge benefits, surely they deserve a dividend.”

It’s not Bragg’s first run in with a social networking site. He previously took the News Corporation-owned MySpace to task over a potential rights-grab clause in its terms and conditions, gaining a huge amount of positive PR for his stance.

This time, though, the daggers were out for Bragg from the get-go. Internet business blog TechCrunch called his move a “crazy-stupid idea” and said Bragg “ignored the fact that music was uploaded to the site by artists themselves, with full knowledge that they would not receive payments of any kind (except free marketing, of course, and access to Bebo’s tens of millions of music-loving users)”.

Glenn Peoples from music industry blog Coolfer was a little more reasonable, pointing out that Bragg’s protestations came too late.

“Artists of all stripes should create the mechanisms and institutions that can negotiate with companies such as Bebo before they are acquired for millions, if not billions. Asking for money after the fact will get you nowhere.”

Of course, no one involved has as yet suggestd a way to calculate the value of a song streamed on Bebo or MySpace to everyone’s satisfaction.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 10 days from the date of publication.