Michael Robertson hits out at label licensing demands


MP3tunes boss Michael Robertson is flinging cats into crowds of pigeons again, with a column for GigaOm in which he outlines why streaming music services face such a struggle to become profitable. He takes aim at licensing conditions from major labels and rightsholders that “doom online audio companies to a life of subjugation to the labels”, including general deal structures; taking equity stakes; up-front and minimum payments; detailed reporting; data normalisation; publishing deals – “determining ownership is a complete nightmare and there are huge holes in the licensable catalog” – most favoured nation demands and non-disclosure agreements. “With most other businesses, if a supplier makes unreasonable demands, a retailer can turn to other providers. Since copyright law gives record labels and publishers a government-granted monopoly, no such option is possible with music,” writes Robertson. The existence of such terms is no surprise to Music Ally readers, but the question of whether they make it impossible for digital services to build successful businesses is the issue to chew over.

Music Ally

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