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MP3 Means More Music, Less Money, Better Quality

[Berlin, GERMANY] "More music, less money, better quality". This is how positive the future of music distribution over the Internet looks to Christian Seidl, the editor of "jetzt", a youth magazine from the "Suddeutsche Zeitung", one of Germany's leading newspapers. In the podium discussion on the topic "Wadde hadde dudde da - who will take care of music in the future?" at the Munich Media Days, Seidl categorized the opportunity for the free exchange of music as a structural revolution on the music market: customers are taking matters into their own hands and, when downloading from the Internet, they're not looking for cheap music but rather for quality.

Additionally, the new possibility of distribution over the Internet also provides publicity to artists without record contracts. This is where Seidl believes the opportunity lies for "a new music culture". He sees the uncomplicated exchange of data leading to worldwide forums of musicians that could set free an explosion of creativity and diversity.

Dr. Hans-Herwig Geyer, the spokesman for GEMA (the German Author's Rights Society), naturally could not share this vision of the future. Geyer stressed that the Internet must be reconciled with the basic copyrights of the artists. The GEMA representative warned that intellectual property is a value that must be protected, and under no circumstances may it be forgotten.

Basic legal conditions and a departure from the illegality of music piracy were also called for by Rudi Gassner, former president and CEO of BMG Entertainment International and new member of the Bertelsmann board of directors. He recalled that the Internet provider Napster, which has in the mean time been bought by Bertelsmann, started as a small company that was clearly infringing upon copyrights and yet was still declared to be a favorite of 34 million users. Bertelmann's strategy now is to transform the product into a legitimate service, according to Gassner.

Tim Renner, executive vice president and President Music Group of the Universal Music Group Germany (UMG), pointed out that music being offered over in the Internet in no way threatens the existence of record companies. The more music placed on the Web, the more likely it is that a user's search for specific music will be unsuccessful. Record companies are still necessary for promotion and marketing. However, even Renner declared the great opportunity for diversity through the anarchy of the Internet to be indisputable. In his estimation the music market is stagnating, but the distribution of music over the Internet offers the chance for targeted communication, not only amongst artists but also amongst users, which knows no regional boundaries. Renner admitted that there was undoubtedly "a lot of junk" amongst the large amount of music being offered on the Internet. But he said that he was sure there were also "a few diamonds" out there.