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Monday, December 13, 2004

I-Pod Vs CD - Myth & Reality

Tony Wadsworth, chairman & CEO of EMI Music UK & Ireland,a panellist at the Guardian Unlimited Digital Music Forum, in association with Word Magazine, being hosted at Abbey Road studios in London today writes, Everyone has a view of today's music industry, but for those of us lucky enough to work in it, some of those views can seem far from reality. In response to research on digital music carried out by Guardian Unlimited, here are the Top 10 myths and misunderstandings. Excerpts:

1.The i-Pod explosion will kill CD sales: i-Pods and other MP3 devices have given lapsed music fans renewed interest in music and they need "content". Many consumers are buying new CDs to load via their PC, and recent British figures show album sales are at an all-time high. What we care about is bringing as much quality music to as many people as possible, in as many ways as they want to receive it, online or on a physical format.
2. Unauthorised use of P2P (file-sharing services, like Grokster or Kazaa) promotes sales and so is a good thing : Music companies invest huge amounts in helping artists record their music. It's the right of the people involved in that process to decide how that music is made available and whether they want payment for their work. If unauthorised P2P becomes the only consumer experience, musicians and producers will be starved of investment.
3. Record companies are anti-downloading: We believe that the net is a fantastic way to listen to new music and get into styles of music you otherwise might not hear. Through artist and official retail websites we're offering brand new content through streams and special offers. We've been building fan bases this way for more than 10 years and have used audience votes to select singles or tell the Rolling Stones what to play as an encore during their live shows.
4. Record companies are anti file-sharing technologies: We will work with any company that has a sound business model, including legitimate P2P services such as Snocap, with whom we are in discussion.
5. Record companies can't agree on which file format music should be delivered: We aren't technology companies and aren't involved in originating those formats, but we would much prefer to see inter-operability across file formats and are lobbying to achieve this.
6. Digital delivery of music means artists can go direct to consumers and won't need record companies: Music companies fulfil a key role in the recording and marketing of their artists. Their investment and expertise is valued by new artists trying to get established.
7. Record companies were slow to adapt to new technology and so the pirates got there first: It's a lot quicker to rip something off and offer it free than it is to build a legal framework around the same system so that artists, writers and producers can be paid for their work and develop long-term careers. There are scores of legitimate sites in place now.
8. Consumers have got used to getting music free so won't buy digitally : From a standing start a year ago, there are now 1m legal downloads a month in Britain alone, a download chart, countless online retailers offering different ways of getting music such as streaming or subscription and a large and growing legal market for receiving music on mobile phones.
9. With no manufacturing costs, record companies should be able to drop prices : The risks and initial investment in launching an artist, which includes recording albums; paying artists, producers and engineers; producing videos and developing visuals, remain the same. Manufacturing costs are now put into huge investment in IT and digitisation.
10. The record industry is crazy to "sue" its customers: We need to establish that getting music free without the permission of its creators is wrong, pure and simple.
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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"