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news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

Online music business and technical models

posted: Jul 12, 2003 3:39:09 PM

CNET has a decent article this morning on What's holding back online music? which explores various business and technical models for online music. This article's ideas correspond with a number of my interests in online music, including:

  • I am a musician who wants to make my music available online (perhaps ultimately making some kind of living doing this)
  • I listen to a lot of music and collect CDs and MP3s
  • I have worked with a lot of systems / businesses trying to deal with digital content business and technical models
  • I am interested in copyright law and its evolution in the online content era
  • I have a lot of experience serving streaming media

Once the iCite net is up and running, I want to do an experiment that is something like having each music listener function as a radio station, primarily to themselves. Like radio stations, they effectively license music, paying based on use and audience size / revenue.

It seems to me that the Internet can facilitate a model where each artists is their own record label and each listener is their own radio station—and, of course, if artists want to combine and share or listeners want to combine and share, that is natural as well.

The 20th century's record labels and on-air radio stations are designed on a largely centralized model. That is, there are a lot fewer record labels and a lot fewer radio stations than there are listeners, but all of the infrastructure is designed for and managed by the labels and stations.

I think, with the Internet, it is vital to design and manage things at the "ends", and allow them to join as desired. The infrastructure (in this case, of music distribution) can be designed for and managed at the ends: musician and listener.

Anyway, with the iCite net, I think I am going to be able to create a compelling experiment where the listener is more directly in relationship and accountable to the musician for the use of the musician's music, and vice versa.

Like any, that relationship might be abused and open technology isn't going to stop that. But, I imagine it possible that some open technology could facilitate the respect and admiration that can exist between musicians and their listeners, and that it also can simply keep the honest honest about any agreements.

Along these lines, I recently became aware of Kevin Marks and his mediAgora project. I am interested in Kevin's ideas and will be interested to see if what he is talking about can be facilitated in any way by the iCite net, or perhaps they can be complimented by the developments I am suggesting in this post.

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