WMG Consultant: Blanket Licenses May Be Online Retail's Best (And Last) Chance
August 19, 2008 at 10:39 AM (PT)
Speaking at the PROGRESS & FREEDOM FOUNDATION's annual ASPEN conference, WARNER MUSIC GROUP consultant JIM GRIFFIN floated the idea of a voluntary blanket license as the best way to monetize digital music sales, Tech website ARSTECHNICA.COM reports. In this business model, royalties would be generated passively (possibly through an extra monthly stipend to their ISPs). Consumers would then get access to all the music from all the labels that participate in the scheme, as the money collected through that system would then be distributed to artists and labels.
The blanket licensing has been previously proposed by a few bands (BARENAKED LADIES, for one) and web-sympathetic groups such as the ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION. Although GRIFFIN stressed to the conference that he isn't calling for a compulsory (i.e., government-mandated) license, a voluntary blanket license would be the least disruptive way for consumers to pay for a massive collection of music. The key is to making art "feel free" to those who enjoy it, even if it isn't.
GRIFFIN didn't get into the specifics on how this would work in real life, but he stressed that monetizing music would be the "canary in the coal mine" in the ultimate success of online retail. He believes that monetizing music would establish the models for other forms of online content. If the music industry can't create a truly profitable online business, GRIFFIN believes there's little hope for other creators.
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