This nice video just went up on my Youtube channel: my entire keynote speech (67 minutes) from the Future with High Speed Broadband Conference in Auckland, New Zealand on February 23, 2012. Topics: Transformational Technologies and Creating new demand for ICT services - The Future of Broadband and ICT -, in detail: the coming telemedia convergence, the future of content in a hyper-connected society, social networks are cable TV without the cable, why open standards are crucial, why and how data is the new oil, how Control is being replaced by engagement and involvement, why sustainability becomes even more important, the shift from egosystems versus ecosystems, the new drivers of Innovation. The slides are embedded below, as well.
Ross Dawson and me recently met in Sydney (where I spoke at the Google ThinkTravel event, on The Consumer of Tomorrow) to do some videos together. The first episode is now live on Youtube, on the Future of Money. I think this turned out quite well and provides some interesting brain-teasers. You?
Ross has a good summary of what we discussed:
* The world of money is opening out in a big way today * Facebook credits are becoming an important alternative currency * Cash will phase out for digital payments * The rise of Bitcoin is important in shifting transactions out of the purvey of governments * In many developing countries mobile phones are becoming the predominant banking platform * Micro-payments for content could work through social media and dominant platforms such as China’s QQ * These could flow into crowdfunding for creative endeavors * Behaviorally we are some way from micro-payments working well * Money will inevitably shift to the cloud
It was a pleasure and a privilege to be invited to the Telco2.0 Executive Brainstorm event in London, today, and to address a roomful of telecom & media executives that were - as it says in the conference tagline - looking for a way to 'reduce the friction in the digital economy'. After having to listen to some rather bizarre and, sadly, rather 'retro' justifications about why those pesky Internet users and Digital Natives (i.e. our kids) really do need to be threatened with disconnection from the Net if they don't comply with the rules of yesterday's game, delivered with great pathos by the usual lobbyists from UKMusic and Universal Music Group executives (see the list of panelists below), I tried to get down to the bottom line of what the workable alternatives to their Control & Enforcement paradigms could be.
Funny thing is, that in the subsequent vote most people in the audience seemed to actually agree that disconnection and punishment are not going to change anything and are not a suitable path to new revenues... I always wonder why there seems to be strong consensus if people vote (or talk) individually, but if you hear them 'in public' everyone always delivers the good old party line of wanting more control and protection. Why is that? Whose bread we eat whose song we sing... is that it?
I will post a summary here, shortly. In the meantime, here is the slideshow (download the PDF via slideshare). A
The proposed "3 Strikes" legislation is flawed in many more ways than I could hope to outline in this letter, and many of these issues have already been addressed in many other places. Therefore I shall provide only a quick summary of some of the key issues, and then move on to describe what a fruitful, realistic and decidedly more pragmatic alternative could look like.
Unauthorized use of music on the Internet is not a technical problem but a business issue. The reasons why the global ‘free’ sharing of music via the Internet (whether streamed or downloaded) is growing exponentially cannot be nullified by technological means. Rather, the digital music (r)evolution clearly poses a myriad of business and socio-cultural problems that require us to devise a new social contract that legalizes what people actually do, and then build new business models around it.
Anyone that has attempted to innovate within the music industry (including me) will attest to the fact that the largest hurdle for the monetization of music on the Internet during the past 15 years has been the astounding absence of new licensing schemes that actually fit the 'Internet Generation' i.e. the digital natives, and the new ways of consumption that connected consumers are rapidly adopting. Bottom line: the problem is not what consumers are doing - the problem is that the music industry has not blessed it with a license yet!
Therefore, any attempt to solve these business issues with technological measures – such as the proposed 3-strikes legislation – would, with utter certainty, be very expensive, have serious social and political consequences and yet fail miserably to deliver tangible monetary results for the content industries or indeed the creators; just like Digital Rights Management (DRM) which was pushed very hard by the music industry for over a decade and has now finally been acknowledged as the snake-oil it really always was. The only outcome of the proposed 3 Strikes legislation would be to further criminalize every single consumer that is interested in music, every fan and every potential customer.
So, again, let me be pragmatic: this idea means no money for the creators, no new revenues for the industry (but even more rejection by the consumer), and still no satisfaction for the music consumers. In my view, the most pressing objective must be to solve the very real problem of how music (and then, other digital content) can indeed generate new revenues via the Internet - for the old revenue streams are the past, beyond a shadow of a doubt - just look at what is happening to newspapers and print publishing! Technology will not and cannot solve problems posed by seriously outmoded business practices.
I would argue that we are in fact trying to build a new business on top of the decidedly pre-Internet principle of total and exclusive copyright – a stark dilemma that has proven to create endless friction but produce very few new revenues. The very idea of being able to control the flow of files in order to extract earlier or possibly higher payments from the users is fundamentally flawed, and we must therefore look for ways to monetize it rather than to prevent it.
The value of music is no longer (just) in the copied file. We urgently need to understand and accept that the value of music is no longer (just) in the mere copies of the digital files. Our attention needs to shift from the old - and dying - business of ‘selling the copy’ to selling everything else i.e. the many other values around that copy (some people call that 'service' ;) but starting with providing very low-cost or flat-rated and bundled access, and then creating many new revenue generators on-top of the bundled, legalized access to music. Once legal and unlimited music distribution is build-into Internet access - when Access is Content - a revitalized music industry can focus on talent, curation and marketing, i.e. the attention-getting and the conversion of that attention into actual income. And yes, there is serious commercial value in the music industry once we regulate distribution (I call this Music 2.0 - if you care to read my free book on this... here it is)
The DML: the alternative to the proposed '3 Strikes' legislation. 80 years ago, the answer to the challenge of a then-new and vastly popular technology called 'Radio' was to legalize it and provide new licensing schemes to remunerate the content creators. The same thing happened with CableTV and with the copy-machine, and the very same logic needs to be applied to music on the Internet. A public, collective, standardized and open license for music on the Internet needs to be either voluntarily created by the music industry, or mandated i.e. enforced by the government - and the sooner the better for everyone. The DML would - similar to the existing radio & broadcasting licenses that are already in effect around the world - make music available on public, standardized terms and conditions, and therefore allow any and all businesses that want to use music to do so without the utterly crippling uncertainties that exist in the current marketplace.
Revenue shares and flat rates - not fixed license fees per song. The objective of the DML is to create a new, vast, and constantly replenishing ‘pool of money’ for music, i.e. to grow the revenue potential along with the growing number of users, as well as via the many new kinds of usages that will be spawned by the DML.
In my opinion, the most crucial component of the DML is this: the license fee needs to be calculated on a revenue-sharing basis rather than on a per-unit i.e. per song fee, whether streamed or downloaded. The current practice of a fixed per-track fee (usually amounting to about 1 cent U.S. per song, for the use of the master recording) for a stream and around 70 cents (U.S.) for a download has proven to be economically detrimental and utterly unrealistic for the market participants (such as Omnifone, Spotify, Rhapsody, Napster, We7 and Yahoo). Why is this? Because of the still-very-nascent stage of the digital music ecosystem, the fact that large-scale advertising revenues for new forms of media are always 2-3-5 years behind, and given that a very large number of users - potentially all UK consumers - are likely to listen to quite a bit of music in this way.
In its formative stage, this new market does not and will not bear license fees that are fixed in this manner and that are totally unrelated to actual incoming revenue streams. Instead, the DML would need to be calculated on a flat-rate or percentage-of-revenue basis, possibly combined with a minimum 'floor' that could prevent unfair and unintended use of 'free' music as a loss-leader (if needed).
Initial DML's reserved for ISPs, telecoms and operators. Since there are many different kinds of businesses that would benefit from having legalized music available (e.g. telecoms, operators, search engines, social networks and communities, blogs, web portals, online magazines etc) but their business objectives and parameters are so vastly different, I would propose to initially make the DML only available to ISPs, mobile network operators and telecommunications providers. This would have several important advantages: 1) once ISPs and operators are able i.e. licensed to offer music bundles and flat rates, they will have every incentive and reason to monitor (i.e. count not control!) which songs are used on their network, 2) they have very large user bases which will provide for a critical scale of payments to be obtained immediately (thus significantly lessening the perceived threat of revenue loss in the physical music market), 3) they have strong potential for the integration of next-generation, user-friendly advertising integration 4) and they already have build-in billing and payment mechanisms.
A flat fee license per user, generated in a multitude of ways. When licensing ISPs, mobile operators and other telecommunications companies it will be crucial to offer flat-rate licenses rather than to pursue revenue shares which are not going to be an acceptable way of generating music revenues from this process, at least initially. Rather, I believe that a fixed, flat-rate license fee per user, per week or month, would be the most suitable way provided that suitable 3rd parties (see below) will also engage to contribute to the funding of each user’s license fee. We must not simply declare the license fee payments to be the ISP’s problem - because it isn't, and because the solution is in the creation of a new Ecosystem, a new business logic, and not in creating tax-like burdens for individual industries.
Economic experts have already done a lot of work on the flat rate model. Far from being an economist myself, I would add that a payment of 1 GBP (in the UK) or 1 Euro (in Germany, France etc) per week per user seems to be economically feasible; however the exact price point will of course need to be negotiated with all involved parties, and possibly be adapted on a yearly basis until the market is more fully developed and each party’s ultimate value position can be determined. In any case -and this is crucial - the DML must clearly be so utterly affordable that every single ISP, operator and telecommunications company would immediately apply for a license.
In terms of the actual use of the music and the subsequent accounting for remuneration purposes, I propose that it should not make a difference if a song is downloaded or streamed (i.e. played on-demand while online), and - similar to CableTV - it should not make a difference if a user would use music 24 hours a day, every single day, or just download 3 songs every now and then. All music usage would need be counted, anonymized and reported, and artists would get paid fully proportional to the actual use of music i.e. according to their popularity (see below for details).
A calculation example: a pool of 2.6 Billion GBP per year for music, in the UK. As an example, a DSL provider and mobile network operator with 20 Million UK users would need to generate funds to pay for a DML of GBP 80 Million per month, i.e. 960 Million GBP per year.
Assuming, for mere calculation purposes, an average of 50 Million eligible UK residents i.e. a large percentage of the entire UK population (~ 61 Million) generating 1 GBP per week, the revenues for the music industry would amount to a very substantial 50 Million GBP per week i.e. 2.6 Billion GBP per year, which represents almost twice the UK's recorded music revenues in 2008 (1.36 Billion GBP). Any argument of ‘cannibalization’ of existing revenue streams such as CDs or iTunes would pale against this figure. And yes, iTunes would do just fine with and on-top of the flat-rate: remember they don't sell music, they sell iPods and iPhones!
How to fund a DML of 1 GBP per week per user. The key question is, of course, how exactly the ISPs and telecoms would raise the money to pay for the quite significant cost of the DML, every week, per user. This is a crucial issue since,a gain, under no circumstances should the ISPs, operators or telecoms be made solely responsible for the financial solution of this problem; it is absolutely crucial to position the DML as a business solution that will unlock strong new revenue opportunities and will be more than cost-neutral in a fairly short time. In my view, the job of building the financial support mechanisms i.e. the ecosystem that the DML will require should be handled by a mutually respected, knowledgeable and neutral advisory board whose mission would be to 'collate' this new ecosystem and to get device makers, advertisers, premium-service providers and other interested parties aboard as quickly as possible.
Advertising is only one of the many ways to fund the DML. Of course, as in television and radio, advertising is one of the key factors that will subsidize the DML fees. The concept of advertising-supported content is not new but what will be drastically different, going forward, is the type of advertising that we will see on digital networks in the very near future. Concepts such as advertising becoming content, itself (such as in mobile phone applications) and social advertising will blossom once permission for the legal use of music is given, creating much higher advertising revenues than we are currently seeing online.
The global advertising spend currently amounts to roughly $ 670 Billion USD, per year. The UK advertising & marketing spend is forecast at approx 25 Billion GBP in 2010 (eMarketer), with - by 2012 - an estimated 25% i.e. 6.25 Billion GBP going to digital and mobile advertising. Yet, digital and mobile advertising would only be one piece of this new puzzle: handset makers could pay subsidies to get preferred i.e. 'presented by' access to users (basically a network-centric variation of the existing ‘Nokia comes with Music’ concept), social networks could contribute subsidies to legally integrate ISP-hosted music into their own networks via the DMLs that operators and ISPs would already have; search engines and portals could do the same. Imagine if Google could sit on-top of this new system of fully legalized, feels-like-free music - this is similar to how Google has already made legal music (streaming and downloading) 'feels like free' in China.
After an initial set-up period, it would be crucial that an ISP or operator that makes use of the DML would be able to fully recover the DML costs through a multitude of new revenue streams, such as next-generation advertising, the sale of mobile applications based on the unlimited availability of music (such as social music and play list applications), subsidies by CE companies i.e. handset and device makers, data-mining and cross-selling (with careful consideration to consumers’ data protection and privacy, of course) and various forms of up-selling of other product and services (including music-related premiums) such as the games industry has been offering for the past decade, already, or even by re-packaging some of the license costs to their users.
The DML is NOT a tax. Any indication that the DML essentially amounts to a tax or is yet another compulsory payment scheme levied onto the consumer (such as the existing TV & Radio licenses) or a particular industry needs to be avoided, at least in the UK market where such a proposal would probably be politically unwise. The DML is simply a new license that is made available to businesses that want to use digital music, with the funding being generated from the market participants, themselves.
Monitoring of usage and fair payment to content owners. Every song that is performed i.e. streamed or downloaded on the Internet would need to be tracked and accounted for, using already available software solutions such as Gracenote or Shazam. This data would need to be made anonymous using a mathematical formula that would protect each user’s private data while still providing actuarial tracking of which song has been used how many times, on any given day, week or month.
Each artist and rights-holder would then receive a monthly payment that is proportional to the actuarial use of their music during each tracking period, e.g. if a given artist’s music was used 1.3% of the time (e.g. in any given month), he or she or their representatives (record labels and publishers) would receive 1.3% of the total pool of money collected. All participating creators (e.g. writers, lyricists, composers, producers etc) would get their proportional payment from the same pool. I am advocating a 50-50 split between the composer and the performer (i.e. recording and publishing), at this time. Overlaps with existing rights schemes (such as public performance on the Internet, and so-called web-casting and Internet-radio) would need to be investigated and addressed, as well.
Existing examples: similar models to the proposed DML are already in place, or are being investigated in:
Please note: this short letter cannot possibly answer every question that may arise if this proposal is further investigated or realized. Rather, I intend to make the case for why the DML would solve the pressing problem of legalizing and at the same time monetizing the many new ways that consumers use music on the Internet. Please keep in mind that most of the suggestions outlined above are still quite basic; prior to making any precise recommendations in regards to possible implementations a lot more research and input from all involved parties is required. Also, while my suggestions should be applied to digital music only, at this time, I do foresee similar developments within other digital content sectors such as motion pictures, TV and books - albeit within a wider timeframe (i.e. 3-5 years).
Music industry expert to Mandelson: Legalise it! Media Futurist Gerd Leonhard says that musicians, labels and government need to focus on their wallets rather than technology if they are to save music from the threat of illicit music downloads on the internet. Speaking ahead of the event, the “Future of Music / Stop Disconnection”, Gerd (who advises many of Europe ’s top InternetService Providers) said: "Music industry lobbyists are saying unpaid downloads are killing our business. In response, the UK government is now considering legislation that would allow people who illicitly download to be disconnected from the Net without a court process. This leaves many musicians scared and perplexed, some arguing for disconnection, others for their own fans to be restricted to dial up speed internet. Neither will see the artists or labels paid more or the relentless advance of online music sharing halted.”
“Back when UK radio stations were not licensed to play music at all, the arrival of the PPL (1934) and MCPS-PRS (1914) collective music licences opened the door for proper payment for music performed in public. We now need the government to legislate for music online, and mandate the creation of a Digital Music License that will put money into the pockets of the creators while giving the consumers what they want, at the same time.”
Bizarrely, the UK government, led by Lord Mandelson, the UK Business Secretary, seems to have done a 180-shift in the past 2 weeks by once again proposing to disconnect alleged file-sharers from the Internet. In other words: if the content industry can't get people to buy music or films, or other so-called content, by offering relevant, fair and affordable new ways to do so, maybe the government can help to force people back into buying the old-fashioned way, i.e. by the unit / copy? Rather than actually change the industry's business model, let's just change the consumers' habits - problem solved!
If you want to be puzzled, just read the UK government's announcement (PDF via Arstechnica). The Net is buzzing with news on this topic; see below. The FT has a good recent update called 'Claws & Effect' here; wherein I read (with little surprise): "Senior music industry figures, such as Lucian Grainge, head of
Universal Music International, have been influential in mobilising
Westminster to act". Lobbyists succeed again?
The bottom line can be summarized like this: "Let's just see if we can still force people to consume music in the way that suits us better". Never mind that the very similar French Sarkozy-'Bruni' proposal was just recently deemed illegal by the French Constitutional Law as well as by the European commission - maybe some good lobbyists can revert that, as well?
Here are a few quotes I have collected on this topic:
Those who like this idea
"John Kennedy, chief executive of IFPI, the organisation representing
the recording industry worldwide, says: “It is not enshrined in any law
anywhere that one has the right to steal music, films and books. There
is a crisis in the economy, and as well as respecting rights we have to
think about the economy and jobs” (FT) Related read: John Kennedy at RSA
“We welcome the government’s recognition that this problem needs to be
addressed urgently, so today is a step forward that should help the
legal digital market to grow for consumers,” the BPI, the music
industry trade body, said. “The solution to the piracy problem must be
effective, proportionate and dissuasive” (FT)
Those who don't like this idea
"Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, one of the
UK’s biggest providers, says: “We are going to fight [being forced to
disconnect customers] as hard as we can. Our fundamental duty is to
protect the rights of our subscribers” (FT)
"A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We share the government’s
commitment to addressing the piracy problem and recognise that new laws
have an important role to play in this. But persuasion not coercion is
the key to changing consumer behaviour as a heavy-handed, punitive
regime will simply alienate mainstream consumers. The
government should be ensuring a balance of action against repeat
infringers and the rapid development of new legitimate services that
provide a compelling alternative to illegal file-sharing" (FT)
"Internet provider TalkTalk said it would "strongly resist" government
attempts to oblige Internet service providers to act as Internet
police. TalkTalk said disconnecting alleged offenders "will be futile
given that it is relatively easy for determined filesharers to mask
their identity or their activity to avoid detection" (HuffPo)
One of my favorite quotes, via Labour MP Tom Watson: “Challenged by the revolutionary distribution mechanism that is the
internet, big publishers with their expensive marketing and PR
operations and big physical distribution networks, are seeing their
power and profits diminish. Faced with the choice of accepting this and
innovating, or attempting, King Canute-style, to stay the tide of
change, they’re choosing the latter option, and looking to Parliament
for help with some legislative sand bags” (FT)
Some important facts and other related snippets (quotes from various sources):
Proposed EU telecommunications legislation includes a clause stating that internet access is a fundamental human right (FT)
In Ireland, internet companies UPC and BT Ireland have refused to
comply with music companies’ requests to cut off suspected pirates (FT)
The Sunday Times claims that Lord Mandelson,
the business secretary, has been persuaded that pirates should be
deprived of internet access altogether after dining with “Hollywood
mogul” David Geffen *via FT (no surprise here, either;)
I have been saying this since 1999: the solution to illegal filesharing is to legalize the way that people share content online, to create new, public, compulsory licenses for content, starting with music (yes, just like the Radio / Broadcasting license), to create fair and flexible licensing standards, and to reduce control in favor of compensation.
The UK's trend towards increased criminalization is just plain old wrong, technologically absurd and utter fantasy, culturally 500% retro, and socially unjustifiable. Techdirt's Mike Masnick sums it up nicely: "You may kick people off the internet, but does anyone honestly think that will actually get people to buy again?"
I think creators now need to get paid for the USE of their work, not (just) for a copy. On the web, everything is a copy, every listen / watch / read / use is in fact a copy; computers are simply copy machines by default. If creators and rights-holders stick to the old definition of 'copy' and the corresponding, unit-based mode of how they used to get paid (e.g. the mechanical license for each download of a song), then we will continue to have a total mismatch between what 1.4 Billion Internet and the converging ~ 4 Billion mobile phone users are willing and / or able to pay, resulting in a drastic loss of revenues that could be harvested via revenue sharing, bundling and other collaborative, usage-based models. Check out the slideshow below. More on what I call "21st Century Content Economics" later today - I will publish a PDF with my Authors@Google presentation I am doing in San Francisco, today.
“The logic is quite straightforward: You find a way of creating a
payment within the network,” says Gerd Leonhard, a media futurist and
author...Although a similar idea failed in France in 2006 amid a fierce
lobbying effort by the recording industry, Mr. Leonhard has long argued
that if the recording industry licensed Internet networks with a
flatrate for streaming and downloading music, then advertising and
other subsidies would be able to cover the entire CD business. He
doesn’t even think the Isle of Man’s tax is necessary.
“The payment of about €1 [$1.28] per week, which we have been
debating in Europe as a flat rate, is entirely possible to raise
through the ecosystem. The music won’t be free, but it will feel like
free,” he says, in an interview from Austria. Business models like Leonhard’s are becoming more feasible as concert
tours, merchandise, and endorsements become more lucrative than
recordings. “When Prince gives away his CD away with a British Sunday newspaper,
he knows that he will be guaranteed three sold-out shows. That is worth
more to him than the recording,” Leonhard says...."
Author and futurist Leonhard says the recording industry is fighting an
uphill battle: “The tactic of criminalizing users hasn’t produced any
money. The industry needs to look for compensation, not control.”
From the BBC's excellent coverage of VirginMedia's plan to enforce the bizarre 3-strikes+out plan presented by the French Olivennes commission (and now under consideration in the UK): "BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor told BBC News that the body was prepared to ... take ISPs to court. "There is a phenomenal amount of piracy out there and we believe that the idea that 95% of content on the net is free is not sustainable. We don't believe that society can allow the free consumption of content to persist"
Now here is the problem, Geoff (and I think you know this): a free society does not have the option of disallowing something that is easy to do and undertaken by a majority of the population IF there is a plausible alternative that could make it legal without harming either party, i.e. just because your economic model of selling copies is broken it does not mean the government should protect you by turning the Internet into a police-state. The solution is a LICENSE to everyone that cares to have it, everyone that wants to offer music, everyone that wants to add music to their offerings. A license that RADIO has had for almost 100 years. Get on with it and make that happen rather than trying to enforce the unenforceable.
"At the end of the day, P2P networks and strange or alien files are not
going to cause any more economic hardship for the content industry than
they are causing right now. However, good natured, good citizens using
private storage clouds are going to be hugely hurtful. And, if good
citizens can cause irreparable harm by paving the road to hell, imagine
what bad natured, bad citizens will be able to accomplish with the same
technology. Trust me, the computer network does not know the nature of
His list of virtual drop-boxes and sharing sites is useful, as well: