Unless you have been hiding under a rock over the past week or so, you already know that Warner has tasked Jim Griffin (former head of Geffen digital) with designing a scheme whereby Internet Service Providers will charge a premium fee to customers ( a music tax if you will) in exchange for unlimited P2P and Torrent streaming of Major Label content. They have dubbed the initiative "Feels like Free"... or "One Big Tip Jar" that all of the labels and artists would divvy up.
I have kept quiet for much of this discussion as I tried to dissect the various commentary from the blogosphere and come up with my own take on the situation. Well here it is...
This concept (while utopian) is a good one if you can excuse the fact that the very same labels that sued Shawn Fanning's (Napster) tail off 6 years ago because of the evil nature of P2P are now endorsing it and wanting to take P2P to market. This move is a day late and a dollar short. I do not understand why our industry takes so long to jump onto popular tech initiatives. I mean... I would have been selling digital music on Myspace 3 years ago if I had been in a place to make such a decision. This whole concept (rooted in the Future of Music) of music being all around us... in our lives in every possible way is a good one. The problem is how do we legitimize it? I know that is what Warner and the isp's are trying to do, but I fear it is the wrong way to do it. I am concerned about what happens to legitimate e-tailers. What about iTunes revenues? What about eMusic? Will the checks coming from these giants start to diminish when everything is flowing like water? I think so... Than we are in a worse quandary than we are in now. Furthermore... where are the independents in this? When we have a giant pool of revenue to be split by the majors and the independents, I am afraid our little slice of the pie just might not be enough to justify this huge change in business model.
On a positive note, I am glad that the majors are looking at opportunities such as this. It often takes a major player to be the catalyst for change. I just wish they would find a more feasible model.