As far as solving the music industry's financial woes, U2 manager
McGuinness writes a lengthy piece in the new issue
of Rolling Stone addressing the file-sharing and piracy issues that he
believes are largely the source of the meltdown of the music business
in recent years. It's an update and expansion on ideas he put forth at
the international MIDEM music conference in
Now, as then, he holds Internet service providers — and the giant telecommunications corporations that control the vast majority of ISPs — responsible, arguing that they've built their industry to a large extent by providing free content, often irrespective of the intellectual property rights of musicians and other creative types responsible for that content.
When I sat down with him in
More than two years later, he writes in Rolling Stone's
"For the world's Internet Service Providers, bloated by years of broadband growth, 'free music' has been a multi-billion dollar bonanza," McGuinness writes. "Unfortunately, the main problem is still just as bad as it ever was.
"Artists cannot get record deals. Revenues are
plummeting. Efforts to provide legal and viable ways of making money
from muse are being stymied by piracy. The latest industry figures,
from IFPI (the
"Finally," he adds, "maybe the message is getting through that this isn't just about fewer limos for rich rock stars."
Many of those rock stars have been reluctant to go on the offensive, because the problem is often cast in precisely those terms: millionaire musicians whining that they aren't making even more money.
McGuinness still thinks, as he did back in early
2008, that music subscription services should be the way of the future
and that ISPs should be sharing their windfall profits with the artists
and labels that have helped them pull in that money. If they don't do
so voluntarily, government intervention should be the next step. He
points to laws passed in
"I think we are coming to understand that 'free' comes with a price," McGuinness writes, "and in my business that means less investment in talent, and fewer artists making a living from music."
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.