Canadian Music Week wraps up in Toronto today. I attended on Thursday, where I participated on a DRM panel that was somewhat less than the sum of its parts (Puretracks, eMusic, SOCAN, ASCAP, Chris Castle, and myself on the panel that packed a room but never fully gelled) and attended two keynote addresses. The first was from Terry McBride, the CEO of Nettwerk. McBride delivered a masterful speech – with no notes and "speaking from the heart" (his words) – he argued against the use of DRM and provided a stunning, forward looking vision of the music industry. For McBride, business is booming with incredible opportunities to use the Internet and technology to connect fans and artists in an unprecedented fashion. As an example, he highlighted the recent work of Avril Lavigne, which includes a manga strategy that mixes music, books, and open content, as well as the release of the song Girlfriend in eight different languages.
After McBride, the heads of the RIAA, CRIA, ARIA, and BPI took the stage for a panel titled State of the Industry: Partly Cloudy. The contrast was striking. The industry heads all indicated that they generally agreed with McBride but then proceeded to disagree with him on the law, on DRM, and on lawsuits. It was the lawsuit discussion that really caught my attention. Mitch Bainwol of the RIAA argued that the P2P lawsuits had helped keep P2P use in check, while Peter Jamieson of the BPI said the suits were needed in order to educate the public before launching new fee-based services. As for CRIA's Graham Henderson, he said that they haven't sued anyone. That surely comes as news to the 29 alleged file sharers who were sued in 2004 as well as to federal court judges who ruled in the case. Perhaps what Henderson meant to say is that the Canadian music lobby group hasn't sued anyone successfully.