Ah, the music biz–source of fun for the masses, and craziness for businesspeople. We all know about the first part of that, but the second bit’s been highlighted by some odd news this week, hinging on MP3s.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) are pressuring Apple to pay royalty fees for the 30-second preview clips that iTunes users can play to help them decide whether to buy a track or not.
The argument centers around money–ASCAP and BMI argue that there should be more revenue coming in from “performances” of music, while some artists argue they’re not getting enough money to make a living. They’re now posturing to try to get more royalties paid from a number of new revenue streams. Some of these streams do seem to make sense, but targeting the 30-second previews demonstrates exactly how crazy the music industry is. Think about it…those tiny snippets of sound are not complete performances in any way. They actively help consumers to buy full tracks, which then delivers a chunk of revenue to the artists concerned. It’s almost equivalent to Guinness charging you for the pleasure of waiting for your freshly-pulled pint of beer to settle on the bar before you actually hand over the money to buy the drink.