“We Haven’t Sued Anyone”

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.


  1. Alexandre Racine says:

    RIAA, MPAA, CRIA, we all know where this is going anyway… MAFIAA (Music And Film Industry Association of America) [ link ]

  2. The only rational voice on that panel, apart from Mr. Geist of course, is Nettwerk’s Terry McBride. Clearly he’s on the right track and I’ll support Nettwerk as much as I can. The new album from Rosie Thomas called These Friends Of Mine {out March 13, but available via legal MP3 download since December) is really good! Thank you, Terry!

  3. “Peter Jamieson of the BPI said the suits were needed in order to educate the public before launching new fee-based services.”

    This is funny when you also consider all of the lawsuits they are targeting at students in the US. Its a novel approach: Education through Lawsuits. I also enjoy “Educating the Record Industry through Boycotts” as well.

    Terry McBride is one of those people who is interesting in any interview you read. He marches to his own drummer, has a clear vision, is willing to take some risks, has ethics, and … respects his customers as well as his artists.

    Respecting him and his artists in return is pretty easy, and so is plunking down money for their music. This month we bought all of our missing Sarah McLachlan songs on eMusic, and started on building up our Barenaked Ladies collection.

    Fedge: Thanks for the Rosie Thomas tip. Wow, look at those ratings for the album! 5 stars and 55 votes. Darn it, bumped off BNL to get this (no worries, BNL, you have several spots on our saved list). If anyone wants to listen you can get samples of each track at:
    [ link ]

  4. Looking at my eMusic purchases this month and the saved list for next month, my little dollaroonies are showing a score of:

    Nettwerk: 80
    RIAA/CRIA: 0

    Hopefully statistics will continue to show CRIA is in hard times and CD sales drop more, and I sure hope that Nettwerk and the artists show good times financially with increased sales.

    And, the CRIA/RIAA will always assume its theft. Its not theft, its an active choice. If they had any respect for me they would believe me. They would rather just label me a thief.

  5. Hi mhaman (and everyone)! I’m glad you like Rosie Thomas. She had been with Sub Pop for a few albums but in interviews I see she moved to Nettwerk for yet even more control.

    I’m not just championing Nettwerk here – though they have consistently released many things in the past I own in my collection. I’ve supported Nettwerk since their early 80s offerings from The Grapes Of Wrath and Skinny Puppy. Yes, they’ve had major distribution from EMI and Sony but they’ve remained true to their indie heart.

    Take a band like the Cardigans for example – they’re signed to Universal but the US branch of the major showed no interest in releasing their new album Super Extra Gravity. Nettwerk stepped in and released it instead – giving a US release to a great album and a receptive home to a great band. (To Universal Canada’s defense, in fairness, they’ve always been supportive of the band).

    In addition to Nettwerk there are really good labels in Canada like Boompa, Blocks Recording Club, Mint, Last Gang, Paper Bag, Arts & Crafts, Constellation and Baudelaire (those are just the ones that immediately come to mind).

    CRIA’s Graham Henderson may have a big podium to whine from but it’s people like Nettwerk’s Terry McBride, Boompa’s Scott Walker, etc that are doing more for the industry than CRIA *EVER* will.