Anthony Wilson: There needs to be an easier system to buy music

From the Royal Society of Arts lecture on music and the internet, given in London by the Factory Records founder
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The Independent Online

The internet is supposed to remove barriers to trade, and the biggest barrier to trade in the music industry is having to get a bloody bus into town, go to a shop and find the right record. The whole Napster experience, of people downloading digital music from the internet for free, has had a profound effect. It showed there is a massive appetite for music to be delivered at home.

The chairman of a large entertainment company in Japan has remarked that the idiocy of his music company bosses around the world created the problem. There is no industry in the world where senior people are less likely to know how to work a computer than the music business. It's pathetic.

They turned their back on the Napster phenomenon and hoped it would go away. It has not, and Napster bit them up the bottom, and now a company chairman is saying "my music company bosses are idiots" for turning their back on this world.

Their refusal to embrace or to understand digital music created Napster. There needs to be an easier, more elegant system for kids to go on line and get the music. It just doesn't exist at the moment.

I ask people, "If it cost you a quarter of a penny, every time that you hit Google, would you pay a quarter of a penny?" And the answer is yes, you probably would. In which case, how incredibly successful and rich could a company like Google be, as well as everybody else who worked on the internet?

Internet visitor numbers are being held back because there is no proper way of charging for music online. Just think of the work that we do as record companies in actually manufacturing the CD, packaging it, distributing it, getting it into those Securicor vans, placing it in some shops and getting it on the the shelves. And then the shop has to pay its rates, its rent, its staff and all the other costs. If you get rid of all those costs, music can still make as much money as ever for musicians and song writers and yet cost a lot less.

It is simply the intransigence and pig-headedness of the music industry that means this isn't here yet.