The MIDEM music conference in Cannes, France seems to have passed about as quietly — with respect to our interests, at least — as CES in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago.   Nokia’s Tero Ojanperä announced that Comes With Music will expand into more countries throughout the world this year, though he offered neither specific rollout dates nor any figures on the mobile subscription service’s uptake in the UK, its initial market.

Apart from that, the only item of interest was plans announced by the government of the Isle of Man, the small tax haven in the Irish Sea, to adopt the flat-tax plan for online music sharing.  In this scheme, ISPs will pay a monthly fee for each subscriber, who will have unlimited, free, and legal access to online music.  

Pockets of the music industry are starting to embrace the flat-tax idea, while being careful to use a more polite term such as “blanket licensing” to describe it.   BPI (the UK analog to RIAA in the US) expressed support for the Manx scheme, while the international umbrella organization IFPI professed skepticism that it would scale to markets larger than the island’s population of 80,000.  

Analogously, we are hearing about Warner Music Group‘s experiments in flat-tax licensing on university campuses, almost all of which have even smaller populations.  Some campuses’ bursars’ offices already collect student fees for campus music services provided by Napster and others.  WMG’s campus flat-tax scheme merely amounts to yet another step in the process of offering users more rights for less money as a response to piracy.

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