BPI boss Geoff Taylor on future of music

The BPI is the record label industry group, its chief executive, Geoff Taylor, today offered his notion of what online music would look like in an “ideal” world through a blog item in the Daily Telegraph.

Taylor’s comments were also distributed as a press release by the BPI this morning, and have been reproduced here.

“Like most music fans of my age, I spent my teens and early twenties building a massive music collection, because the ownership of records, and later CDs, was important to me. I wanted to enjoy my music whenever I felt like it.

“So if you’d have told a 17-year-old Geoff Taylor in 1985 that in 2008 he’d be able to buy pretty much any track he wanted, through his computer, for less than a pound, and take that music collection with him wherever he wanted, he’d have said that was his idea of an ideal world.

“But we have this, and it’s called iTunes. There are hundreds of other licensed services on the market already that pay artists. And I don’t have to just consume: I can participate. If I wanted, I could set up a band in Second Life. Or play Guitar Hero online with my friends. I’ve always been able to create my own music, but now I could publish it online, and share it on social networking sites.

“My point is that I don’t only have access to everything, but I have the interactivity and the means to connect with other people like never before. And if I want, I can still go to a gig, or buy a CD, if online music isn’t my bag. Sounds pretty good. So why are we even having this conversation?

“This debate has been reignited by our signing a deal with ISPs that should spur on the development of new music services for UK broadband customers and begin the process of marginalising illegal p2p. It’s too often forgotten that those two processes are inextricably linked. Companies will only invest in creating the most innovative and flexible services for online music fans if their return isn’t totally undermined by illegal downloading. We’re now on the right road – there is palpable excitement within the business about future partnerships with ISPs.

“In an ideal world, music fans would have the ability to buy every version of every track ever recorded, with intelligent and flexible pricing, at lossless quality. DRM wouldn’t have disappeared, it would be there in the background, allowing different consumers to get music they way they want and at the right price point, but it would be totally interoperable – invisible to the user. Not only would all your tracks play on all your devices, you would be able to access your entire collection through any music playing device, any time. And whenever you heard a new song you like, you could add it to your collection with one click of a button. Or maybe just a thought.

“And wherever you go online, you would find new music, connecting you to groups of people who share your interests and helping you relate your own musical DNA relates to everyone else’s.

“And you would pay for all this without thinking about it, through billing relationships you have with a variety of online services. Ah yes, paying. There had to be a hitch. This may not go down well with those people who expect and demand something for nothing, but what’s important is that 17-year old music fan today gets a far better deal than I ever did. And that’s a good thing.

“Our job is to build partnerships to ensure that music fans of all ages get an even better deal in the future, accessing a universe of music safely and legally – while protecting the valuable British music community that creates the great music in the first place. That’s a future that’s good for everyone.”

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