Music industry convenes on Internet

An mp3 player hangs on the wall as attendees mill at Midem, the influential music trade fair in Cannes, France.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Doug Krizner: Big wigs in the music business were in France this week. The international music conference known as Midem was held in Cannes.

Bill Werde of Billboard Magazine is just back from the event. Bill, what was the big story?

Bill Werde: Well, I would say the biggest story was, you know, Paul Mcguinness, U2's manager, in a speech, directing attention to the Internet service providers to start helping to solve some of the music business's problems. To see someone like Paul Mcguinness stand up -- you know, the manager for one of the most beloved bands of all time, U2 -- to see someone like that stand up and say listen, you know, this traffic, this piracy is decimating the industry, decimating good people and it's time to stop and really do something about it, I think that's very meaningful.

Krizner: So he wants Internet service providers essentially to begin policing the Internet looking for illegal files that are being shared?

Werde: It's not so much that the telecoms should be looking for copies of illegal music as much as telecoms might want to pay attention to those who are using the greatest amounts of bandwidth. The idea that maybe the music business shift the focus of as he called it "moral pressure" away from the individual piraters and on to the multibillion-dollar industries that benefit from these countless tiny crimes, as he said.

Krizner: One of the stories that we were struck by coming out of Midem was the company QTrax. I guess they were embarking on a plan to try to search for copies of illegal music and making that available to consumers in a legal format. What was the buzz going on around QTrax?

Werde: You know, QTrax is trying to find a way to take that enormous universe of music -- much bigger than is on iTunes, for example -- and make it legal. The premise of their service is that it'll be ad-supported -- you'll be able to keep music for free as long as you're watching and perhaps listening to advertisements. But contractually, it's a nightmare -- and QTrax in their haste to make an announcement at Midem, put this announcement and almost immediately the major labels were sending out notices that in fact the licensing wasn't there. So I would say this is one of the more bungled service launches that I've ever seen.

Krizner: Will they inevitably get it together, do you think?

Werde: They may get it together, but they're certainly going to have a credibility problem, I think both with the major labels and, you know, the tech media that they'll have to depend on to gain exposure.

Krizner: Bill Werde is executive editor at Billboard Magazine. Hey Bill, thanks so much.

Werde: Yeah, always a pleasure, Doug.

Krizner: This year, Peter Gabriel was named personality of the year.

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