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The Forum > Article Comments > P2P is here to stay: Music companies must get real > Comments

P2P is here to stay: Music companies must get real : Comments

By Greg Barns, published 1/12/2004

Greg Barns arues that music recording companies need to develop sustainable business models.

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Greg, that's the third article I can recall where you praise Naxos. Are you on their payroll?

I donít think ARIA/RIAA are on the right track either, but I have to take exception the praiseful tune you're singing for Naxos and their ilk. They are just bargain-basement versions of Sony/BMG.

NAXOS is not the only company that uses recordings of royalty-free (or royalty-ignored) music (and not just classical) to bring down the cost of CDs for the undiscerning punter. The economies of this production are such that they use the same-old, same-old approach to cranking out huge volumes of minimally differentiated recordings of traditional tunes. Think "The Pipes and Drums of Scotland" (http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000506I7/searchengin07-20/ref=nosim/026-3757707-1908431?dev-t=D34546436546546), produced by MRA entertainment for the princely sum of $2500 right here in Brisbane and distributed in the tens of thousands all over the world (at £9.99 on Amazon). (Disclaimer: the band that performed on that CD is one that I play with.) If you look here: http://www.arcmusic.co.uk/english/e27.html, you'll find a list of these generic CDs; their track listings minimally variant.

However, this does nothing for developing new repertoires of music, nor for developing new forms of music, nor new artists. This is the point at which P2P becomes a scourge: where genuine innovation must be rewarded. If you check out the P2P sites, you won't find much of NAXOS's catalogue (or the Pipes and Drums of Scotland) in there ...

You'll notice that Amazon lists "Pipes and Drums of Scotland" as being performed by "Various artists". It isn't. It was all performed by the Bun' Ber Pipe & Drum Corps (www.bunbere.com) at the University of Queensland. It says so on the front cover of the CD! For their six weeks of rehearsal and day of recording, the 13 members of Bun' Ber E were paid $1000. You can be reasonably sure that most of NAXOS's recordings are made on a similar basis.

Although they usually have a small stable of original artists (euphamistically dressed up as "Legends" or "Nostalgia" - they are a sure bet) these record companies don't care about innovation, creativity or artistic merit. If they did, they'd have signed up Bun' Ber E Celtic Bands as an artist and distributed the two independently-produced CDs of other music they have performed! They care about cost-effective production and distribution of lowest-common-denominator music - that's how they, like the biggies, fund their small stable of original (read high-risk) artists. They are the worst form of corporate slavery and exploitation for every other artist.

P2P is a genuinely interesting issue, but this model of music production and distribution is not a panacea for the ills of the music industry, either. The economics of producing new, innovative and interesting music are simply not suited to that model.
Posted by Hughie, Wednesday, 1 December 2004 4:39:25 PM
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Hi Hughie - I am not on their payroll but I am a huge fan of their business model. They are not a downmarket version of Sony/BMG. Naxos has been recording some interesting material - both contemporay and old. It also has access to the great masters.

I am glad to hear there are other labels following suit!
Posted by Greg, Wednesday, 1 December 2004 5:52:07 PM
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Some business model. That approach is to the music industry what Walmart is to industrial democracy in the retail sector! Walmart's has been lauded by the business community, too ...
Posted by Hughie, Thursday, 16 December 2004 10:44:45 AM
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