U2 manager lashes out at ISPs again

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Paul McGuinness delivers Music Matters keynote

Steve McClure, Billboard, June 04, 2008

HONG KONG -- U2 manager Paul McGuinness has delivered another hard-hitting speech in which he said that by refusing to join forces with the legitimate music business, Internet service providers are clinging to the past and preventing the music industry's future growth.

In his keynote presentation at the Music Matters conference in Hong Kong on June 4, McGuinness said he wants to see "a real commercial partnership" between ISPs and the music business in which they fairly share their revenues, as well as "action to stop mass copyright theft."

McGuinness had used his keynote speech at MIDEM in January to accuse ISPs of "destroying the recorded music industry" by failing to tackle piracy, and he returned to this theme in Hong Kong -- although he welcomed some initiatives by European governments.

"Privately negotiated revenue-sharing partnerships are, I believe, a key model for the future," said McGuinness, who has managed the superstar Irish band for the past 30 years.

"One way or another, ISPs and mobile operators are the business partners of the future for the recorded-music business," he said. "But they are going to have to share the money in a way that reflects what music is doing for their business."

McGuinness believes that's especially true in China, where he says leading telecom China Mobile makes "hundreds of millions of dollars each year from sales of ringtones and ringback tones, yet pays a minuscule fraction of that to performers, producers and composers. That to me is not a fair business partnership."

While dismissing the general international legal framework as being of "only limited help," McGuinness welcomed recent initiatives by the French, British, Danish and other national governments aimed at disconnecting large-scale illegal file-sharers and exploring the filtering of copyright-infringing networks.

"Progress depends on national governments," McGuinness said in a press briefing after his speech. "I would like to see the workers (creators) paid, which they aren't at the moment."

In rejecting an advertising revenue-driven business model for the music industry, he said he doesn't want to see "artists reduced to the status of employees working for glorified ad agencies."

"The music business once had to bear the accusation that it was full of dinosaurs who looked back to an old business model rather than embracing a new one," McGuinness said. "Today, though, it is the music business that is charting the way to the future.

"If there are dinosaurs around today, I think they are the Internet free-thinkers of the past who believe that copyright is the great obstacle to progress, that the distributors of content should enjoy profits without responsibilities and that the creators and producers of music should simply subordinate their rights to the rights of everyone else. We have not reversed the troubles of the music industry yet -- but at least the dinosaurs are no longer running the show."

Copyright © 2008 Nielsen Business Media, Inc.

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This page contains a single entry by Brenda published on June 8, 2008 4:48 PM.

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