When will it stop ?

the discrimination against digital labels and MP3/wav/flac.

It still seems that as much as vinyl is becoming more and more niche and boutique, CD sales are dropping and digital downloads are forever on the rise, broadcasters still won't play anything if it doesn't come in the traditional format from an established source?

I know there has always been a payola thing going on between the major labels, the broadcasters and retail chains with regards to securing synchronised blanket radio/tv play and prime window space then kicking back to the copyright collection agencies but surely even that antiquated system cannot stem the tide of quality music being released digitally.

I've noticed over the last few years and even more so now, major label's and vinyl based indy dance labels slagging the mp3 piracy angle as an excuse for distributers closing down, record shops going under, sales dwindling but really isn't that just evolution and survival of the fittest ?

Sure I could go on about big name DJ's handing out promos to radio shows and other big name DJ's who feel obligated to play out the stuff and have the up front tunes no one else has but that doesn't mean that the quality of those promos are any better than a myspace guy pimping his tunes on a few download sites.

But would those big name DJ's and radio shows actually go online, trust their own judgement enough to support an artist to buy their tunes and play them out ?

I don't think so. Is that discrimination ?

The way things are heading it is inevitable that at some time the trad broadcasting distribution, promotion and sales system will have to go digital or go under. I'd equate the current status quo to the last stages of apartheid in Sth africa being propped up by hardliners who have the most to lose though that might be a bit extreme.

so what's the hold up ?

I think it's the copyright agencies and the major labels.They can't figure out how to get residual income from stiffing the artists anymore so are reluctant to change models until the law can back them up. I would venture most of the majors sales and hence profits from the digital sites come from releasing back catalogues they own mechanical rights to in perpetuity. Something artists in previous eras had to accomodate if they wanted the big push and a deal.

The trad broadcasters still being reliant on advertising revenue, i would imagine are reluctant to play out anything which will not generate a copyright fee to the agencies being that a percentage has to go the agencies in the form of a license or a percentage of their advertising revenue for that month being paid out according to the logging of a particular songs airplay. Sure you get the odd groundbraking new music show which highlights the next big thing but even thats more of a hipster, fashion style and street cred thing for the individual radio jock. Maybe it does translate into sales but only if the medium is widely available yet more often that not it isnt.

Is that discrimination ?

you tell me

And what of the independent free press in the form of music mags and critics for the dailys ? Do they have a vested interest ? Are they a part of the same system anachronistic system of promotion and marketing tied into the money go round that monopolises the media ?

I think so but thats an entirely spearate rant ;)
Heres a classic case of that synchronicitous coincidence thing. I wrote the above diatribe without reading this and then clocked it on another site. Much of what it says echoes the sentiments I have but from an insider perspective. The point i still want to make is overcoming the discrimination people have towards digital releases, as though the music itself is any less valid, exceptional and worthy of broadcast just because it's not on CD or vinyl and available from your local shop.

I suspect that in spite of bullshit protestations about piracy affecting sales, headz are starting to look at the wider issues and realize that if they don't get in they're missing out.

The old quality control thing just doesn't wash cos sooner or later if all music is available on an even playing field the cream will rise to the top according to natural selection not due to industry push or big name DJ X playing it out.

Big labels are f*cked, and DRM is dead - Peter Jenner

The major four music labels today are "fucked", he says. Digital music pricing has been a scam where the consumer pays for manufacturing, distribution, and does all the work - and still has to pay more. Labels should outsource everything except finance and licensing...

...they know that they've built their power around their monopoly, and their manipulation of the market, and that's how they cover up their incompetence - by being "the only people who know how to buy stuff in", and so on. They've spent a lot of money establishing it.

And it's only through distribution, through black boxes, and their control of the existing copyright regime.

But it's not just that. You've also got this incredibly complicated rights structure. They've got to sweep it away online - they don't need to fuck with it offline - but they need to say there will be payment for music, and it's for the [artists] to claim under some kind of regulation.

Doing it through the courts is just too complicated - it just becomes nit-picking. What we are doing today with radio, PRS, is actually riddled with holes. Money gets lost, misattributed, deductions are taken for this or that - but we can all live with it. It's not some malicious plot. It's just compounded human error.

Any money that comes in through collective payment and you don't know who it belongs to for any reason - or you can't pay it to them because you don't know where they are - goes into what's called the black box.

Which everyone in the collection societies insists doesn't exist. You ask Fran [Richard, ASCAP] about the black box and he will give you the most fantastic bullshit. He'll say "We don't have a black box".

Of course he has a black box. With the best will in the world you cannot distribute all the money accurately.

In a blanket license system, there'll be huge black boxes, and we'll have to learn to hold the money for a long time. People will learn to register, then we can work out how to deal with the black box fairly - rather than giving it to people who know it's there. That's what's happened in the past, really.

We don't talk much about it - so no one know who's got it. And the people who get it don't say much about it - it's not top of their conversation at music conferences.


Well-known member
The only things thats driving me nuts right now is the regional licensing for different artists or releases... it makes no sense that we have a global marketplace, yet I can go to a webshop and not be able to purchase some bits and bobs because i'm in the wrong hemisphere/location.
Apparently the UK charts will now accept digital only sales into the charts. Prior to this digital sales (without a physical equivalent) only counted in the first week of release. So who will be the first mainstream radio station play a record that's not actually going to be released in a physical format ? Or even a No1 hit that is determined solely by downloads or how about ringtones should they play a factor in determining charts cos more and more it generates a higher return than actual CD sales.