SoundCtrl Series Part 5: Dance Music in the Era of Copyright Controversy

by Angus Thomas Paterson

This is Part 5 of a running series.

For Part 1: “Life After the Digital Disruption,” click here.
For Part 2: “
Protecting the Future of Music,” click here.
For Part 3: “The Power of Independents” click here.
For Part 4: “Cultivating Cultural Capital” click here.

Listening to the Future

If dance music’s independents have proved adept at responding to shifting ground, all signs indicate they’ll need to continue to do so, as the industry framework continues to rapidly evolve. Producer Matt Thomas says he’s witnessed dramatic changes in just the past few years alone, when it comes to the value attached to artistic output.

“It’s reflective of the whole Facebook culture, that steady stream of activity running past your eyes all the time,” he says. “If you have a YouTube link, there’s no need to own 90 per cent of the music you’re hearing. There used to be a paradigm where you could make a fantastic tune, and rest on the laurels of that for a while. These days though, records have their day really quickly. There’s a living to be made in the studio, but you had better be prolific.”

Rae from FMC says the industry is still looking for a long-term solution in the digital era. His organization has championed industry-wide consultation that would see the traditionally underrepresented independent stakeholders given a louder voice, to help negotiate a policy solution to adjust business models and copyright laws to make more sense in the new environment. His central criticism of ACTA is that it was drawn up in the dark with a lack of transparency, with the likes of the RIAA allowed a disproportionate influence.

It’s part of a overall story of the larger end of town effectively trying to hit the net really hard with a big hammer. “The traditional industry trade organizations and lobby groups will put tons of cash and capital into trying to get the law to bend their way. This can have adverse repercussions on freedom of expression as well as development of future business models.”

The FMC asserts that at the end of the day, the ultimate goal should be to ensure artists are worth investing in. “As we rise from the ashes of Music Industry 1.0, it’ll have to be more artist centric. That’s the only way it’ll be sustainable. I sometimes question the real motives of the traditional players, because I don’t think they’re necessarily aligned with the artists at this point.”

“Again, to champion the independent sector, I feel I can paint with a broad brush and say historically they’ve been more supportive of artists, because they’re closer to the ground.”