Editor's Note: Constantine Roussos is the entrepreneur behind the proposed .music top-level domain name initiative. His effort began in 2001, when his business plan for .music won top prize at the USC Entrepreneur Program. He's since become CEO of dotMusic and holds the rights to domains like Music.us and Music.mobi. He says he is trying to bring consistency, organization and centralization to the industry and help monetize music online for everyone. But his ideas raised eyebrows within the industry associations and prompted the RIAA, A2IM and ASCAP to issue a letter to ICANN (International Internet domain registry) voicing concerns that .music could be used to advance piracy. Here's Roussos response.
By Constantine Roussos
The Internet has truly democratized the manner that music is delivered and consumed with a click of a button. It has leveled the playing field but at the expense of chaos, decentralization and inconsistency.
My core vision behind the .MUSIC (dotMusic) Top-Level Domain (TLD) was to solve the inefficiencies that the Internet has created through innovation. My definition of disruptive innovation is bringing together two seemingly unrelated industries together and connect the dots to create shared value and a difference that matters. Organizing the music industry on the web can only be accomplished by utilizing the root of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS). Not only does a .MUSIC Top-Level Domain bring consistency, organization and centralization, it also assures ownership and control still remains in the hands of the music industry.
.MUSIC is being launched as a community-based domain. This means that only members of the music community will be able to register the domain. My decision to launch .MUSIC as an exclusive, community-based domain was strategic and integral to ensuring that .MUSIC websites create a trusted Internet zone for music consumption. An example of a TLD that has enjoyed success using this approach is .EDU for education.
Verifying members has shown to increase trust, credibility and the sense of true community. The .MUSIC domain will be exclusive only to authentic music community members that can be verified through .MUSIC-accredited Community Member Organizations.
By incorporating efficient registration policy-making and domain name authentication, monies will flow directly into the pockets of artists and the music community, not to pirates or unlicensed illegitimate websites. This way, .MUSIC solves the piracy concerns expressed by the RIAA, A2IM, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, NMPA and other music organizations in their letter to ICANN, the governing body of the Internet. By using this quality-driven strategy, as opposed to focusing on maximizing the quantity of total domain registrations, weaknesses become strengths and problems become solutions.
The .MUSIC domain will serve as a badge of trust, safety and credibility to the music consumer. By allowing only verified music community members to register their domain, .MUSIC will ensure it will be used in a safe and responsible manner. Confidential consumer data, security and stability are a priority. Stricter guidelines for registration will also help protect Internet users from malware, phishing or any other malicious behavior that can arise as well as increase trust.
Even Rich Bengloff, the president of A2IM, expressed his opinion to Billboard that the .MUSIC domain should be legitimized and verified in order to "generate more interest and more consumption of music." T he Washington Post ran a front-page article about new Top-Level Domains and .MUSIC, the day after the Super Bowl with a similar opinion that .MUSIC will "help Internet users easily connect to their favorite band's real website by typing the name of the band followed by .MUSIC on their Web browser; and will help musicians sell their music directly to consumers."
My objective with .MUSIC was to connect a Top-Level Domain with a purpose-driven initiative that is committed in creating value for the music community and making a difference that matters for artists. The mission of the .MUSIC initiative is focused on the music community owning and controlling their home and brand on the Web in a transparent, accountable, trusted way, while experiencing the benefits of the .MUSIC network effect.
To accomplish and operate .MUSIC in a manner that is optimal for the music community, the .MUSIC team is comprised of professionals from both the technical and policy domain name industry, as well as the music industry. We try to be as open and transparent as possible, and have been public with our initiative for years. We participate in many music industry events and are proud members of A2IM and NARM. We employ a multi-stakeholder model that ensures fair representation of both commercial and non-commercial music constituents.
This is why feedback and participation from the music community remains vital to our "bottom-up" approach. The .MUSIC initiative petition has already received over 1.5 million signatures and will be presented to ICANN. Please visit the .MUSIC website to let your voice be heard by signing the .MUSIC petition or let us know your opinion here.
For more information about the author and .MUSIC founder, visit the Constantine Roussos page.