Major music label exec supports file sharing

The news seems to be getting better and better for music lovers who prefer the digital atmosphere for this sort of thing. CNET News.com reports that a former Google Executive has become the President of the digital music division of EMI, one of the major labels.

This is potentially huge news for music fans of all kinds. EMI represents artists like Daft Punk, Queen, Gorillaz and many others. Having this kind of variety means they appeal to a huge portion of the music listening public.

Douglas Merrill, the ex-Googlite and new EMI Digital honcho has expressed some views that are actually rather contrary to the common stereotype of the major labels and the RIAA in general. This is what he has to say on File Sharing:

“For example, there’s a set of data that shows that file sharing is actually good for artists. Not bad for artists. So maybe we shouldn’t be stopping it all the time. I don’t know…I am generally speaking (against suing fans). Obviously, there is piracy that is quite destructive but again I think the data shows that in some cases file sharing might be okay. What we need to do is understand when is it good, when it is not good…Suing fans doesn’t feel like a winning strategy.” –CNET

I think that’s completely an underreported statement. In an age where way too many fans are getting sued by the RIAA, having someone in a position of authority with one of the big 4 record labels come out and say that he doesn’t believe in the tactic is a big paradigm shift. Not to say that this will have any effect on the tactics being used, but I’d like to think it may at least turn some heads.

More importantly for the label itself is the fact that bringing in someone with a reputation for innovation is a step in the right direction. For a stuffy old label, it is vital that they understand the nature of the
internet and the growth of digital music sales. Exploring new models for music distribution (e.g. free, but ad-supported; subscription models; DRM-free) is the most important thing Merrill can do.

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