The concept of licensing and monetizing music file sharing on the ISP and P2P level has been thrown ound for several years. Just add a few dollars a month to your ISP bill and start downloading unprotected files. Then your monthly fee is shared with each artist on a usage basis similar to BMI and ASCAP. Any other plan is doomed to fail, the theory goes, because it's hard to compete with free and untethered downloads that young consumers are growing used to despite all of the legal issues.
But record labels have been slow to adopt licensing P2P's and with good reason. Not only are billions of dollars at stake, but the contractual and legal issues involving thousands and thousands or artists and writers are staggering.
Truth be told, however, labels are already doing it with the college ISP services like Ruckus and now they are dipping another very big toe in the water across the pond with a Sony/BMG deal with UK USP PlayLouder.
According to a report in Red Herring as part of PlayLouder’s service to subscribers will be able to download an unlimited number of unprotected music files. The service and high-speed Internet will cost £26.99 ($48.57) per month, which is similar to British Telecom’s pricing for broadband.
"Monday’s deal with Sony, a major label, adds artists including Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Macy Gray, and OutKast to PlayLouder’s growing library....And the ISP, which calls itself an “MSP” (music service provider), is winning support. It signed on the
United Kingdom’s Association of Independent Music in November 2004. It also has an existing agreement with the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society and Performing Right Society for licensing U.K. artists," writes Red Herring.
These experiments are worthy of watching and may provide the ultimate solution to today's record label downturn.
Read the full Red Herring article here.