The bare naked truth on music file sharing

The first 45 (remember them?) I ever bought with my own money was Steve Miller’s “Take The Money and Run”. At that time it never occurred to me that I would in any way be a criminal if I made a tape of it for a friend. After all, I wasn’t trying to rip off the “Space Cowboy”. I was only trying to share his music with friends and I was under the impression that they would then likely go out and buy their own copies of his album. I really thought I was doing anything but taking Steve’s money and running.

Talking recently with Barenaked Ladies front man Steven Page, I saw he had similar memories. He recalled the first time he got a tape from his cousin, who had recorded “Rock Lobster” by the B52s on his portable recorder. To get that recording, which he listened to for the whole summer, Steven had to place his recorder mic next to his cousin’s speaker.

Nowadays, MP3s will do just fine, and that’s exactly what Steven and I discussed when we went over a new initiative from some of Canada’s biggest music stars, who have joined together to form the Canadian Music Creators Coalition (CMCC) to support their fans and speak out on the issue of music sharing. CMCC wants the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) to know that Canadian music fans are not thieves just because they share music.

Music sharing is not new. It’s been happening for decades. The only thing that has changed is the technology. This is the crux of the issue — home taping did not kill music. Nowadays, P2P file sharing over the Web is faster and brings together huge numbers of people (and does not have the quality issues that tape recording had). This, understandably, scares the begeebers out of record execs.

As Steven points out, P2P sharing is the most accessible method people have to get music. “There’s no reason to punish fans for what they’ve always been doing. Better technology is just a means for them to enjoy their music better and it should be a way for us to help our business rather than preserving a business model that is out of date,” says Page.

“How do we embrace the P2P (file sharing) world in a way that is unobtrusive for the consumer/music fan, so that it doesn’t seem like a sell-out or a co-opt? How do we reconnect with our fan base? It’s time to listen to what fans want and give it to them. We need to find ways to truly make it the same experience for people, but easier, with more stuff available and guilt-free, in a way that artists and labels get paid,” says Page.

Now, there is a business model which I can pretty much guarantee will work.

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