Space Ramblings

Edgar Bronfman Jr. Tries to Destroy Music for Good

Back when Napster was big, the music industry was considering an agreement that would have turned Napster into what iTunes would become. Edgar Bronfman Jr. torpedoed the agreement and instead went on a rampage by shutting down Napster, then Kazaa, eDonkey and having the RIAA sue thousands of people. This did nothing to stop file sharing but the wasted energy did turn over the industry to Apple. Now Edgar Bronfman Jr has come up with a brilliant new plan to destroy the music industry, include open access to music by adding a 5 dollar charge to every internet user as part of your monthly fee.

Some people are calling this a music tax akin to the extra few cents added to the cost of every cassette tape to compensate the music industry for its losses. It isn’t quite as bad because the industry is offering open access to music in exchange, whatever that might mean. But after the RIAA’s lawsuit booty has yet to be shared with artists after 5 years, I don’t think your average musician is going to put much faith in a system that taxes users and puts the money into some sort of common pool.

Music is a product not a service and there’s plenty of money to be made in selling it. The problem isn’t file sharing. The problem is that the music industry was too conservative to embrace and pursue internet sales and now they’re playing catch up. The idea of a music tax on internet access is ridiculous. Furthermore if the music industry gets to add 5 dollars, why not the movie industry and the TV networks. And then there are the book and comic publishers and the songwriter’s guild and that’s just the beginning.

Taxing people is not the answer. Nor is giving up on music sales and embracing some sort of weird, give it away for a flat fee model. Music is not television. It is a product and it is sold all the time. If Bronfman and the rest of the music industry had applied that same energy they used to sue people, to develop universal standards and promote MP3 players and created a centralized sales model for music downloads, they wouldn’t have this problem. And it’s still not too late.

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