Time for a truce with the music industry

CDs-175x123The record labels aren’t an easy bunch to love. If they’re not trying (and, brilliantly, failing) to fill the Christmas charts with an endless stream of mass-produced pap, they’re pursuing alleged file-sharers with an almost unhealthy zeal.

Time for a truce with the music industry

“The [music] industry has been extremely slow to listen to the demands of its customers, and has had something of an abusive relationship with them, seeking to punish them before thinking of how to serve them better,” Lord Lucas told the House of Lords recently, when debating whether to cut-off file-sharers or not. He’s not wrong.

Yet, there is a small part of me that’s tinged with sympathy for the music overlords. Perhaps I’m being overwhelmed with Christmas good spirit (although that sounds ridiculously out of character), but I can’t help thinking BPI chief Geoff Taylor had a point when he commented recently that: “There are now more than 35 legal digital music services in the UK, offering music fans a great choice of ways to get music legally. It’s disappointing that levels of illegal P2P use remain high despite this.”

I spent a good portion of my weekend wrapping presents (with the ability of a man in a strait jacket) and writing Christmas cards, with Spotify merrily playing away in the background. In between Spotify sessions I would fire up my Xbox 360, and flip between the Elbow and Tom McRae channels on the excellent Last.fm service (I’m a sucker for moribund male vocalists).

I didn’t pay a penny for either of these services – if you exclude the necessary Xbox 360 Live subscription required for Last.fm. And yet I could listen to pretty much any song I wished for on Spotify, or sit back and listen to a tailored stream of songs based on my tastes on Last.fm. And for £10 a month for Spotify and absolutely chuff all on Last.fm, I could take both of these services with me on my iPhone.

They took their time about it, but Taylor’s right: the music industry has finally delivered decent, legal music services that benefit us as much as the record labels. Plus, you could  buy the Christmas number one for only 29p from Amazon, so even the argument that digital music is overpriced is beginning to fade.

So how about we call a truce with the music industry in this season of goodwill? They drop this ridiculous campaign to persuade Government to cut off file-sharers, and we’ll stop “borrowing” albums from BitTorrent. Happy Xmas (War is Over).

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