Canadian Heritage has just released a new report [PDF version] on the future of the Canadian music industry that should be required reading for those engaged in music and copyright issues. Written by Shelley Stein-Sacks, the former head of the government's Music Entrepreneurship Program, the report is remarkable for several reasons.
- The report is very realistic in its assessment of the challenges faced by the industry, pointing to the decline in sales following the CD replacement surge, the impact of Wal-Mart and retail channel changes, and the failure of the industry to provide consumers with music in the form and manner they were demanding.
- It enthusiastically embraces the Internet and new technology, rejecting DRM-based solutions and acknowledging the potential of MySpace and Internet sharing to generate new revenues to replace those lost by declining CD sales.
- It puts on the table the prospect of alternative compensation systems for P2P sharing.
- It calls attention to the failure to digitize Canadian music, noting that government programs fund for the completion of CDs, not digitization that allows for downloads. Further, it laments that much of the Canadian back catalog of music has never been digitized.
- There is not a single word about copyright reform. Copyright is discussed within the context of licensing issues and the copyright board, but there are no recommendations calling for major copyright reform.
- It distinguishes between the music industry and the CD industry, with the former very healthy and the latter diminishing year-by-year. Left unsaid, though no less important, is to distinguish between the Canadian music industry, which is dominated by independent labels, and CRIA, which largely represents the industry outside the country.
This is a useful report that deserves a wide audience as it stands in direct contrast to the doom-and-gloom promoted by CRIA and its allies.