U2 manager thinks music drives the net

A speech given by U2's long-time manager Paul McGuinness details his take on the music industry and the internet and computer/device hardware industries. I think the synopsis is provided by a single question he asks: "Who's got our money and what can be done?" Stay tuned after the jump for the story of a complainer who charges 75% of a months salary for a performance and still wants to have more.

During the speech he also asserts that "ISPs and device manufacturers" have built multi billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it." Clearly indicating that things like YouTube and all of the written, textual, and pictorial content of the internet has absolutely no value.

I find it interesting that he points out that the performance portion of the music industry is thriving and even comments that "This is proved by the upward trend in ticket prices, generally unresisted". He goes on to point out that bands can play without subsidy from the intermediaries (begging, but not asking or answering the question of what the purpose of the intermediaries are today).

After all of this, though, he doesn't think about the marketing aspects of the availability of downloadable music, and he falls for the same statistical garbage that the commercial software industry does, that people who will take something when given to them for free will willingly pay whatever price you set for it if they couldn't get it for free.

This has never proven true in the software industry and is most certainly not true in the music industry. Of course, this argument is made by somebody who is fronting a band that has plenty of advertising and history behind it, so they (like Microsoft) are at the point in their careers that they are trying to milk the most out of their past that they can. They see little benefit to things like file sharing and disintermediation that reduce the barrier to entry for smaller, independent groups. These are the people who benefit most from the internet and the power of sharing and easy distribution. The U2's of the world are not in this same position. They are well known, well played, and don't need the help of free publicity to lead to their successful shows at venues with 50,000 seats in them.

Contrast that to people like John McCutcheon--a Virginia folk singer--who puts MP3s of many of his favorites on his web site in order to encourage people to "learn them, sing them, teach them to others." He's not putting his whole catalog up there, and he does sell it on iTunes, but he has not been afraid of the internet, and instead has used it to great effect in packing venues for his concerts despite not having the name recognition of Bono.

In closing, if I have to listen to another multi-deca-millionaire complaining about how they aren't getting their due because they're rolling in the dough from a $335M concert tour where people in Brasil were paying "200 reais -- about $75, or two-thirds of Brazil's minimum monthly wage.", I'm going to just throw up my hands.

Now, I don't know about you, but I know for a fact that I, my parents, most of my close friends, their parents, etc. all have internet access and all are paying pretty high prices for the high speed access that we have. We are also NOT pirating music, or for that matter even purchasing music online or in bricks and mortar stores. We're part of that generation that is mostly done with our buying, but happy to spend the money to go see both new and old music live. As a matter of fact, the last 2 CDs I purchased were each in live venues where the musicians were selling them out of an old instrument case. So, pardon me if I don't apologize to the wealthy musicians out there who think that we're all thieves.