P2P SUITS MAKE NO SENSE FOR MUSIC BUSINESS
Terry McBride, CEO of Vancouver-based record label and management company Nettwerk Music Group, offered to pay the legal bills of David Greubel, a Texas father of four who the RIAA has targeted with
a suit for illegal file sharing. McBride contends that the RIAA’s suits against music fans are "killing our future." Here, he explains why.
The passionate message of music is in the magic of the song. The more it is consumed, the more it nourishes. Music is ubiquitous; it is a utility like water. It is not a pair of pants, and as such, we need to stop treating music like a product that needs to be controlled.
My goal and my reasons for agreeing to pay the legal fees of the Greubel family are quite straightforward. The goal is to stop all litigation against music fans; the reasons are as follows:
1. The RIAA has relied on data provided by Pew
Internet & American Life research to claim that the litigation is
working to deter illegal file sharing, stating that broadband Internet
penetration is growing faster than the measurable base of peer-to-peer
file sharers. Consequently, this litigation is forcing the music fans
to use technologies that are not measurable or traceable, such as
instant messaging and BitTorrent. The latter now accounts for more than
60% of Internet traffic, according to slyck.com. So, in fact, we are
not deterring file sharing, just deterring our chances of monetizing it.
2. Millions of Americans, including the majority of
those in the music business, have shared music. This dates back to
mixing one’s own cassette tapes in the ’70s. Breaking the law has never
been about volume. Teenagers today are simply using the technology at
hand, similar to how we did when we were teens.
3. These same file sharers are great music fans and
are breaking new artists with little or no mainstream media support.
For example, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Arcade Fire and Sufjan
Stevens—not to mention Arctic Monkeys in the United Kingdom—all can
thank this grass-roots community for the fact that they are selling
hundreds of thousands of albums.
4. The music market is down not because of P2P
"piracy," but for four simple reasons: a) stiff competition for the
entertainment dollar from formats like videogames and movies, both of
which have much larger marketing spends; b) the replacement cycle is
over—digital music does not scratch or wear out like past formats; c)
one now has the ability to purchase and listen only to the great songs
without filler; and d) mass-merchant retailers today carry only the
current hits, with little to no catalog.
The RIAA’s litigation policy has no upside. It is
destroying our ability to monetize the P2P market by chasing music fans
even further underground. It is hypocritical because we have shared
music for decades. It distorts the focus from the real reasons for the
decline in music sales. And, most disturbingly, it undermines the
importance of these file sharers. They represent behavioral marketing
at its best and as such should be embraced, not sued.
Litigation is destructive. We are a creative community
so this approach makes no sense at all. I cannot envision any artist
who I have the privilege of representing suing a fan for sharing his or
I applaud the efforts of the French Senate to pass a
copyright bill that encompasses all forms of digital distribution,
including P2P, as reported in the Jan. 7 issue of Billboard. Finally,
we have some politicians that have the foresight to see beyond the
powerful lobbies and into the future.
See also previous post on this subject