back to article Saving ISPs and the music biz: Is it even worth it?

The banks have done it. America's car industry has done it. Now it's the turn of Britain's ISPs and its music business to see what favours they can eke out of government. The Digital Britain report, due to be published tomorrow, will reveal the extent of this back-scratching. There's just two things to bear in mind: neither …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Mark

    Treat MP3s and digital dissemination

    like they treat free advertising.

    The Virgin website can then offer higher quality rips or physical media (with extras that aren't amenable to internet transmission). RIAA et al can become places to sift the good from the bad on the internet. Rather than the "guardians" of content, the "Professional Journalists" of content.

    Margins of profit WILL be lower, but the profit margins on PC's dropped MASSIVELY in the 1990's and they are still selling PC's at a profit last I looked.

    And with more content available, they may really be able to make it up on volume.

  2. Tom

    What service does the music industry provide?

    Service: An act or a variety of work done for others, especially for pay.

    I'm sorry, getting in between me and a musician and charging an absolute fortune for so you can threaten anyone who doesnt play your game is not a service, its blackmail.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    whether right or wrong...

    the music biz is competing with FREE.. .mainly because they didn't join the party when they could have had some say.

    I personally think the music industry needs to die, in its current form. New music labels will come along created by people who are bit torreting today, with new ways to create revenue. It may not be to the same level that the current labels enjoy, but that is simply how business works.

  4. Richard Kay

    Charge those profiting

    And let everyone else copy. ISPs profit when customers pay for bigger bandwidth caps and faster downloads. Blank media vendors profit when people go and buy a few or very many blank CDs and DVDs. It seems a fair deal for the music and film business to get a cut in exchange for legalising use of openly sold blank media and bandwidth by those who don't profit financially, but get to enjoy what the media is used for.

    But the music biz is far too greedy to agree this with the ISPs. Consequently they get little from new uses while screwing their artists all the harder over declining physical sales. So we have a market failure - what could be a market isn't one, which was the reason government stepped in 200 years ago and legislated the solution we call "copyright law" in the first place.

    Copyright worked well when it takes a cut from profitable business of a few commercial beneficiaries and lets everyone else get on with doing whatever they like. This was true in connection with the book publishing business a couple of hundred years ago and will be true again when ISPs are seen in the same light as commercial printers - able to get on with making money from bulk copying of content which others want and paying a cut to the artists who created the recent content.

    Given that copyright law was a government response to market failure in the first place, making this reflect the changing technology of copying should not need to involve it attempting to spy on and modify the behavior of very many people.

  5. jude umeh
    Thumb Up

    ISPs face the music

    Excellent article, and very much in line with my position on the whole ISP industry and its future, or lack thereof, which can be found on the British Computer Society Website at:

    I'll be sure to link to this article on my BCS blog too (see:

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Home taping is killing music

    Oh, I remember it so well.

  7. spam

    The problem

    Digital music is a complete and utter rip off. I just went to

    To download Lady GAGA The Fame - £8.99.

    To buy the physical CD, and have them post it to you - £7.99.

    The cost of reproduction and distribution of digital music is essentially zero, as demonstrated by the P2P networks reproducing and distributing digital music by the terabyte for the cost of an internet connection which people would have anyway.

    What makes the music business think people are prepared to pay a premium for something which costs them substantially less to produce? They think people won't notice or perhaps enjoy getting shafted by them? Do they really think people are going spend £13,000 to fill an ipod?

    When downloaded tracks are priced at around the 4p they are really worth P2P will fade away and there will still be money to be made by those smart enough to take advantage of the huge cost savings the internet offers.

  8. Corrine

    @Richard Kay

    Fuck you. Anybody who tries to use my money to pay an industry whose products I hate will find me more than happy to spend a lot more of my money hiring people to mug them.

  9. Alfazed

    Saving ISPs and the music biz

    Oh, so us consumers are now a bloody voluntary organisation acting like the UK's lifeboatmen, saving rich yatchers who're too clever to load up with safety equipment before they leave harbour !

    Maybe new legislation will work by making us smoke less pot as well !

    But I doubt it.

    What everyone overlooks in this little foo bar, is that the record industry make more money now from the resale of the likes of Pink Floyd, et al, than they did when the makers went platinum back in yonder year.

    No wonder the mean grasping culture mulchers won't take their clawlike fingers out of the distribution pie.

    I don't see that many ISP's going out of business just yet.

    But they can maybe save themselves by making the domestic upstream pipe a bit fatter, to help P2P users win this battle.


  10. Steve Roper

    Ah, debate permitted!

    "legal P2P so strange to several readers that they had difficulty comprehending it was really true"

    This speaks volumes about the way people regard P2P and copyright - they are aware it's against the law, and they don't care any more. If the music industry had thought on their feet instead of viciously persecuting all and sundry, they might have been able to build a low-margin/high-volume business model instead of, as now, arriving so late to the party that any attempt to capitalise on it now is meaningless.

    One business model that comes to mind is, if instead of squashing Napster, they had implemented digital fingerprinting to see how much each song was being downloaded. Then they could have released a bunch of new artists on Napster, and seen which ones took off. This would have saved them from the old risk-based model where they put together a band, hope it takes off, and use the profits from the few that do to cover the costs from all the ones that don't. Using Napster this way would have given their market analysts a valuable snapshot of the public's likes and dislikes, and a thus a way of achieving a much greater hit/miss ratio. Then they could have set up huge concerts grouping the public's favourites in mass acts that would in all likelihood pulled record attendances.

    Instead, they stomped on Napster, which then splattered into the chaos of modern P2P - which as it stands is financially unexploitable. Napster could have been as big as Google, but in the music/media arena, and thus turning a nice little profit for the music industry. But now, I can't see how the two sides are going to meet in a way that will be of benefit to anyone; too little, too late.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The worlds dumbest industry

    The only reflex these people have left is the one that allows them to repeatedly shoot at their own foot. Against all the odds, Apple managed to get them to see sense long enough for a service to be created that didn't seem to explicitly piss the paying punters off - one that, given time and a little coercion, might just serve as a model to wean the freetards off 'free', or at least reduce their numbers. While the music types liked it to start with, they seem genetically incapable of imagining what long term development actually is and the glitter of gold made them revert to type and start squealing over pricing. Why anyone beyond the industry cares if it collapses is beyond me.

    In the early 90's I worked for a graphics company that did display and pre-powerpoint projection material for one of the labels, a subsidiary of one of the industry big hitters. For fun, I had a good look at the slides for their annual strategy conference for the coming year, which for someone interested in music confirmed every cynical thought about the industry. The centrepiece of the "big plan" that was going to make them filthy rich was the 4th (their note) relaunch of a very aging American "rock" (very loosely!) heartthrob who'd never quite taken the UK by storm on the 3 previous attempts. TV appearances, gigs, singles; the whole lot was laid bare on those slides. The language, tactics and cynical approach to the public was more reminiscent of a crack dealer plotting a marketing strategy for sales to six year olds at the school gates than a company at the sharp end of a supposedly creative industry.

    It was entertaining to watch the strategy pan out, tank and go largely unnoticed over the next 12 months, the aging purveyor of mid-american rock gunge as unloved in blighty as he'd been for the previous twenty years. It's perhaps symptomatic of the industry's remarkable stupidity that I see the same tired strategy hauled out regularly to this day, about every two years, with the axe-wielding pensioner's publicity shots consuming more Photoshop processor cycles with each outing.

    I predict he'll be firing up the great Marshall stack in the sky around the same time as the major labels finally implode under the weight of their own perfectly avoidable stupidity.

    Paris, cos she's not out the screw the whole public.

  12. Mage Silver badge


    No one can win this battle.

    Everyone, Artists most of all, listeners and Labels can all lose.

  13. EvilGav

    Why ?

    Why would I pay more for a crappier version of the same song ? Current legal downloads are shitty rips of the full fat version on the CD and sound like shitty rips on anything but a set of headphones plugged into an mp3 player.

    I don't download illegal rips for the very same reason, they are still shitty rips of a decent version and sound crap when played on a proper set of speakers.

    What I do do is rip my legally bought CD's to a full fat version and an mp3 version - the former to stream from a NAS to a media centre playing over the hi-fi and the latter for my mp3 player. Which is of course illegal in the UK, since we don't have the same acceptable use rules that the US has.

    All of the idiots involved want everything, whilst giving back nothing.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I could be wrong...

    ... but I think I read somewhere that smaller "indie" labels were actually doing quite nicely; distribute some content over, myspace or (or whatever) for "free"; maybe with a limit on the number of plays per user or streaming only. With links to where you can buy the content legally - either as digital or physical.

    I seem to be accumulating (buying) a pretty large collection of CDs from the Metropolis label myself.

    Will we really miss the "big labels" with their bland, talentless, mass-produced pop-pap (or regurgitated oldies)? There'll be plenty of small fish to feed on the decaying corpses of those whales when they finally buy the farm.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another good article on the subject

    Estate agents (Realtors to Americans) have suffered hugely since the internet came about, mostly from people knowing what they do and how to do it for themselves.

  16. BioTube

    Lord ain't willing and the creek done rose

    The record labels are going down. In the future, the artist will likely have to rent recording studios and arrange concerts(which will likely become more important for revenue) for himself. Either that or hire a manager(a REAL one, not a talent agent).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @"I could be wrong..."

    Hey, me too! Never thought another Metropolis fan would be on the Reg...

  18. Kevin Whitefoot

    @I Could be wrong ...

    And Jamendo has 14 000 albums available for legal free download. Some of it is unutterable crap of course but then the same applies to the big labels. Some of it is just as well produced as anything from SonyWarnerVirginEtcMegaLabel. Most on some kind of Creative Commons licence. Some of it also turns up on now. See

    Smiley face because I am happy to see the record industry go under.

  19. Paul M.


    Well I clicked on the first six at Jamendo mate and they're fecking terrible.

    That's a typical Freetard response. Don't tell me - your idea of art is a translucent Gnome widget, you spell Microsoft M$ and you live with your mum. Only a serial failure could recommend that garbage.

    "Smiley face because I am happy to see the record industry go under."

    Frowny face because you can't think of anything better to replace it with.


This topic is closed for new posts.