This was bound to happen
sooner or later. Consumers are migrating away from the venerable CD form,
to the new handheld and digital age. Some are predicting a future where we
don't own the music it is just "there". So, are the labels and recording
companies needed, are they becoming a useless bureaucracy?
Rock veterans Peter Gabriel co-founder of OD2, or On Demand Distribution and Brian
Eno who is with SSEYO, a company that provides interactive software for music
and audio are in Cannes, France, launching a new musicians' alliance. A kind of muscians
union for downloaded materials that would allow artists sell their music online
instead of only through record labels. They say they are not cutting the labels
out, they are just going to empower the musicians to produce on their own,
if they so choose, via the Internet.
With the Internet transforming how people buy and
listen to songs, they feel now is the time to act. If the musicians hesitate,
they could find new rules written leaving them powerless. Gabriel and Eno handed
out a slim red manifesto at a huge dealmaking music conference known as Midem,
that speaks to the issue before them.
They call the plan the "Magnificent Union of
Digitally Downloading Artists" - or MUDDA.
artists quickly grasp the possibilities that are available to them, then
the rules will get written, and they'll get written without much input
from artists," said Eno, who has a long history of experimenting with
By removing record labels
from the equation, artists can set their own prices and set their own
agendas, said the two independent musicians, who hope to launch the online
alliance within a month.
Their pamphlet lists ideas
for artists to explore once they're freed from the confines of the CD
format. One might decide to release a minute of music every day for a
month. Another could post several recorded variations of the same song and
ask fans what they like best.
Gabriel, who has his own
label, Real World Records, said he isn't trying to shut down the record
companies - he just wants to give artists more options.
"There are some artists who
already tried to do everything on their own," he said, adding that those
musicians often found out they didn't like marketing or accounting. "We
believe there will be all sorts of models for this."
A representative with the
venture said other musicians had expressed interest in participating in
the alliance, but did not provide
One problem facing such a movement is the fact that
signed artists would be in violation of their contracts. On the other hand,
Gabriel makes a point. He says that labels are stuck in album mode. In order to
get published you need to fill an album. He says he is incredibly slow at
creating and is excited about the concept of writing a song and publishing it
online. We all have complained that the CDs are often mostly fill, this would be
nice for the artist, no longer tethered to the album format could produce
on their own schedule. It would seem to relieve a lot of pressure on creative
thought. We want ala cart downloads, so why not let the artist put up