The Agenda’s Decade of Downloading Debate

Last Friday, I appeared on TVO's The Agenda for a 40 minute debate titled "A Decade of Downloading." Other participants include Bob Wiseman (formerly of Blue Rodeo), Matt Hartley of the Globe and Mail, Grant Dexter of MapleMusic, and Andy Maize of the Skydiggers and MapleMusic.  The program is embedded below.


  1. Devil's Advocate says:

    Just watched it…
    First of all, I don’t know if I’m an exception here, but the embedded video doesn’t seem to be offering the switches to activate it, so I watched it on TVO’s site.

    Having done that, I just wanted to say, Dr. Geist, you did a great job of pointing out many of the key issues I feel are at stake here:

    1) The need for the industries to damned-well ADAPT;

    2) The numerous opportunities for success the Internet has provided everyone, including the industries, that have been automatically and summarily “outlawed” by the industries, rather than embraced.

    3) The hypocracy of the American propaganda about Canada’s laws and stance on IP, and the actual elephant in the room being the need for all to evolve, rather than trying to somehow reform Copyright itself to suit the situation.

    I was also pleased to see Bob Wiseman there as a live testimony that there are certainly artists out there that have NOT seen any notable differences in their ability to make a living through a label, “despite” the existence of file sharing. Indeed, he seemed to be quite supportive of the fact that file sharing has, indeed, resulted in great promotional value.

    Hats off to those who are choosing to “peddle” reality! And to you, Michael, as you seem to be consistently appearing in all the right places!

  2. Interesting show and guests
    It was nice to hear from Bob Wiseman, an artist and also involved in the Blocks label speaking with so much passion about the music. I can understand Grant Dexter’s position too. His MapleMusic label/distribution system via Universal should be a source of national pride.

    The middle ground is somewhere between the two business models.

    The major labels frittered away their chance to control the means of distribution once the internet was born. They should be thanking their lucky stars for the success of companies like iTunes and eMusic. Funny how it took outsiders like Apple to save the music business!

    However, bickering over territorial rights (which often leaves some music unavailable on the aforementioned sites depending on where you live, regardless if the music is owned worldwide by one label), bonus tracks that are sold only with the purchase of the full album and a per-song price that is still too high considering the labels do not provide packaging – are petty issues that the INDUSTRY needs to fix, NOT the FAN.

    It’s been over a decade since Napster and the labels still haven’t figured out how to benefit from the internet.

    Ultimately, people who acquire music online without paying will continue not to pay. The people the industry needs to cater to are the ones that still buy CDs and get music from iTunes. The labels are slowly catching on that DRM is bad so maybe there’s hope yet.

  3. I think what we need to see is more artists taking responsibility for the whole package. There is no reason now to continue giving away the lion’s share of all sales to the middleman, particularly in music where the means of production and distribution are now easily attainable for the artist and cutting out the corporations should allow more artists to make a living without neccessary being a pop star.

    What the big moneys always seem to avoid is that the purpose of copyright law isn’t to make them money. It isn’t even to protect artists, copyright holders, and creators. It is to promote development and saturation of art, culture and ideas. This is not neccessarily best done by giving more rights to those who already have a lot of rights..

    In this case the copyright owners and the creators already have a lot of rights; I think too many. Their claims to be struggling are only based on that they have been basking in unfair luxury for so long.

    Copyright law is currently unbalanced:
    In the software industry, we have corporations copyrighting and patenting every little obvious detail in the hopes that they can scam money out of other creators and protecting their copyrights to the point of sacrificing the software users. In the music industry we have the industry muscling the copyrights out of the creators hands. In the film industry, we have such a disproportionate amount of money flowing that nearly all creation is spurred by how much money they expect can be made off it.

  4. Jerry Can says:

    Good point Crade
    An artist might not want to care about the business end of music, but those artist shoudl realize that historically they only get a very small sliver of that pie. Essentially, if they don’t care about the business end, be prpared for the business end to not care about you, such as it is. Let’s not worry about “lost” sales that were never really there to begin with.

  5. Crockett says:

    I’ll buy Bob’s music
    Wow, I found Bob Wiseman’s attitude to be the most realistic of any music artist I heard so far. I appreciate it and I think I’ll support him and buy some of his music.

  6. Jean-François Mezei says:

    I think people forget about the “Walkman”. Ipods/MP3 players are just a modern version of the cassette driven Walkman.

    Also, in the past, people recorded music for free from their radio. Now they record it for free from the internet.

    In the past, radio stations acted as the advertising medium for new music. These days, radio has become more or less irrelevant for new music and people are hearing about new music from the internet. And this is a significant change for record labels who have fiunally begun to adopt this.

    And last, but not least, the music industry, for the past decade, has imposed a type of rap music, or a limited set of pop music from blonde bimbos who should be signing. So a drop in sales should also be attributable to the marketability of the type of music the record labels have tried to make us buy.

    One needs to remember that buying music from itunes gives you cassette quality music that is not the same as a real CD. But you don’t want to spend money to buy music that you will quickly get tired of (flash in the pan hits), and this is what the record labels have produced in the last decade.

  7. Well done Mr. Geist, your comments were to the point and clearly understandable, even for those not involved in that topic.
    I must also say that this has been the best televised debate I have seen in ages. I can’t even remember when I last saw a host who had actually informed himself before a show. But then, it might be because I never again had a TV since I moved out of my parent’s house some 10 years ago. The Internet is just so much more interesting.

  8. Geoff Becker says:

    Great job Mr. Geist. If the host had been less partial and opinionated it would have been an open, well rounded debate. What often strikes me as odd in Canadian media is how they recognize that Canadians pay a levy on blank media, then insist on calling the sharing of music ‘stealing’. It can’t really be both, can it?