Canadian Heritage has just released their Report on the Canadian Music Industry and finds (surprise) that things are quite a bit different from the imminent collapse of civilization routinely predicted by the major label sock puppets at the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

It is nice to feel vindicated by this report. Although being a nobody in the music industry, I take a certain pride in having made certain calls about where things are going and being right about it.

A long time ago I said:

The fact of the matter is this: as long as musicians, record labels, and the RIAA keep thinking in terms of discrete "units" called "recordings", be they CD's, cassettes or carrier pigeons transporting guitar tabs, they are going to suffer disappointment and be inexorably ground into unprofitability by what I call The End of Copyright Relevancy.

I have gone on to elaborate in one way or another that in this day and age the website is the product. But on reading the report, I think they may articulate it better in that “derivative works” are found to be important emerging revenue models:

Let’s recall our ground rule:

This is about the music industry, not the CD industry.

The music industry, for those of who have been fortunate enough to have been around long enough and to have been engaged at various times in different aspects of the industry, is much more than the retailing of produced music.

Strangely though, there has tended to be more of a focus on the production/distribution/retail side of a finished good as the center of the universe. The music industry, as many will remind you, is way more than just that. Publishing and live performance, for example, are two large and profitable pillars of this industry. Lately, so are other revenue streams like calltones, ringtones, as well as derivative products and services.

The problem with the current view is that it looks at the tip of the iceberg and considers it whole.”

Well guess what, with RSS, podcasts, mashups and creative commons, it’s all derivative, baby, welcome to the digital age, where the difference between software and data is merely order of execution and the difference between content and delivery becomes client specific. Maybe this is what MacLuhan anticipated in his famous “Medium is the message”, but in any case the dinosaurs keep ranting about unfair erosion of their market share and it’s certainly refreshing to see our tax dollars produce such a clueful rebuttal.

Michael Geist posted a overview of the report this morning, calling it “required reading” for any involved in the Canadian music industry.

Category : Staff Memos