Despite my digital home here at Variety, I’m a pretty
entertainment-agnostic guy. I like movies. I like music. I like video games.
Heck, I even like books – both the old fashioned kind and in electronic form.
I’m not a big fan of fan alienation, though – which the
music industry is up to once again.
After waging war with their fan base for years over digital
music (and offering no viable legal ways for fans to use their MP3 players
until iTunes came around), the industry is finding new ways to look ridiculous.
Music royalty groups ASCAP and BMI are reportedly trying to
strong-arm online music stores into paying royalties for the short previews
that people listen to as they mull whether to buy a song.
I’ll say that again, since I had to read it two or three
times to believe it myself. The music industry wants users to (ultimately) pay
for 30-second song samples.
That’s akin to tacking a surcharge on to movie tickets to
watch the trailers. Or asking broadcast networks to pay a royalty for music
used during a commercial to promote the CD itself.
What’s particularly sad is this inane cash-grab is wrapped
up with a legitimate grievance – that composers receive no royalties for music
used in movies and TV shows that are downloaded.
Guys, if you want people to pay attention to real problems,
you need to stop making a fuss about non-existent ones. It’s hard to get any
public backing when your customer base hates you.