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

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.

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