The corner of the Internet reserved for music news is all abuzz over the digital-royalties agreement agreed to by the RIAA, the Digital Media Association, and several publishers’ and songwriters’ groups; the agreement puts into place a royalty structure for music distributed through certain online models. Still, besides just what’s in the press release, what does this actually mean?
So far, the meat of the news boils down to this: “Who knows, especially since the initial announcement left out quite a few details.” The biggest news to come out of today’s agreement: For the first time, royalty prices have been set specifically for digital distribution methods of music. In the past, those numbers were either hashed out via a legal settlement or party-to-party negotiation, or they were indexed to sales of physical product. Today’s agreement ushers in, at the very least, a new era of digital-specific rights.
When (and if) the agreement is agreed to on by the Copyright Royalty Board, there will be specific, clear numbers for both full downloads (iTunes, Amazon MP3, etc.) and subscription services (Rhapsody, whatever’s left of Napster). “Revenue-producing streams” will have guidelines as well, but right now, it’s hard to say what will and won’t fall into that grouping, especially since applications and sites that stream music seem to pop up every day and define their role in the biz a different way. Eventually, this framework may provide a solution for the Pandoras of the world–but whether it’ll prevent the next brand-new music business model predicated on giving people what they want (music, now) at a price they’d like to pay (nothing, ever) from popping up is up in the air.
Still, the good news: The heavy-hitters of the back-end of the music business–including the much-maligned RIAA–managed to get together in the name of progress. That’s not something that can be said often.
MAJOR MUSIC INDUSTRY GROUPS ANNOUNCE BREAKTHROUGH AGREEMENT [Digital Media Association]