Manifesto

1. More Music For More People

That’s the promise of the Internet.  Instant low cost distribution allows
this.  The key is to make everybody a PAYING music consumer.  With everyone
paying less and everyone owning more.

2. iTunes

iTunes replicates the physical CD formula.  The only advantage it provides is
cheap distribution.  Unfortunately, it comes at a cost.  Lower audio quality
and copy protection.  In other words, the public pays more and gets less. 
Sure, you get to purchase a track at a time, but this sucks for the record
labels.  Their profits are based on selling a bundle, i.e. an album.  Ten tracks for
ten times the price.  Unless you can get buyers to cough up this price,
you’re going to end up with less money.  Especially in an iTunes distribution
world.  Which is why labels have to deliver more tunes for the buck to more people.
So they end up with the same amount of MONEY!  Then again, so few people are
regular music consumers that if you get EVERYBODY in for low dough, you’ll
end up with A LOT more.

3. Rhapsody/Napster/Yahoo

An interesting idea if the original Napster never happened.  If people hadn’t
become inured to owning MP3s.  Any formula that leaves out ownership is a
no-go marginal failure at this point.  Furthermore, the to-go feature of these
services doesn’t work.  In a world where the iPod and iTunes work seamlessly to
expect the public to be frustrated by a hostile environment and like it is to
bump up against the rules of human nature.

However, these services perform a great role.  You can SAMPLE music.  Thirty
second snippets on iTunes are not enough to know whether you like something. 
Then again, if you can download a track and THEN decide whether to keep it you
have the best of both worlds.  Which is what P2P presently offers.  P2P
should be monetized.

As for being able to purchase copy protected tracks for a buck at these
services…this is just the iTunes Music Store model replicated.  But with an
incompatible format that does not work with the market dominating iPod.

4. P2P

Reality.  Rail all you want, but despite the RIAA lawsuits, usage has just
gone up.  The lawsuits are about as effective as the nation’s drug policy.  Put
down your joint and THINK ABOUT IT!

Legalize P2P.  What’s the societal cost?  You can stop railing about how kids
don’t know the value of music by ALLOWING them to pay for it.  Charge a few
bucks at the ISP level.  Or, sell trading licenses.  Sure, people drive
uninsured, but most don’t because they’re fearful of the consequences.  Not EVERYBODY will buy a license, but the penalty for copyright infringement is SO heinous that most people will.  And then, suing infringers will be seen as no worse
than stopping people for speeding.  The RIAA will burnish its tarnished image. 
Making money along the way.

5. Radio/Podcasting

The best way to sell music is to let people hear it.  The RIAA companies are
doing their best to stifle this process all the while trying to buy influence
on an ever-dwindling number of terrestrial music radio stations which play an
ever-dwindling number of tracks in ever-narrowing formats.  There should be
compulsory licensing for usage of songs in podcasts.  And reasonable Internet
radio fees.  Sure, the individual numbers will be less than for terrestrial
radio, but there will be A LOT more stations.  And, more new music, of a much
wider variety, will be sold.  Therefore insuring better health of the industry. 
Will the major labels be the sole beneficiaries of these opportunities?  No,
which is why they’re fighting advancements.  But, they will make more…

6.  Touring

A final ticket price.

And a consumer’s bill of rights.  I challenge Clear Channel, AEG and HOB to
create and circulate such a document.  Which contains elements akin to the
following:

a. Parking never to exceed ten dollars.
b. Guaranteed price of water and beer.
c. Number of toilets per attendee.

If you treat the audience with respect, they’ll give you more of their
dollars.  But respect died with Robert Sillerman.

7. Royalties

Must come back.  Sales can’t be hidden with Internet distribution.  Record
companies need to hold down advances the same way the NHL needed to hold down salaries, or risk going out of business.  A guaranteed share of the pie for
artists would be great.  Shy of that, a straight negotiated percentage royalty,
with NO deductions, should be paid.  And, advances should be minimal.  No more
than the cost of producing the record.  Maybe there should be incentives for
coming in UNDER budget.

The acts don’t trust the labels.  By opening their books, by allowing an
independent royalty tribunal to arbitrate disagreements, fairness will come back
to the game.

Artists should be paid based on whether the PUBLIC adores them, not
executives.  Sell records, make a ton of money.  Sell none, go back and work in the
shoe store.  Even if you sold a million albums the first time around and you blew
it all on iron and ice.

8. Management Contracts

Should be walkable, just like agents’.  Being tied up forever without trust
hurts the artist.  Part of your job is satiating the artist.  You shouldn’t get
paid if you don’t.

In the alternative, royalties should cease with the end of the management
agreement.

This whole business is built on the back of the artist.  I don’t want to hear
what you invested, whether it be the manager, agent or label.  Without the
artist, you’re NOWHERE!

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.

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