-- Would a conflict of interest prevent major labels from buying a stake in AEG? The Deal tosses out Live Nation as an example, saying its artist management division’s quest for higher guarantees is fundamentally at odds with its concert promotion division.

“This is just the sort of conflict of interest that well-constructed 360 deals allow labels to avoid without compromising additional revenue streams,” writes Richard Morgan, The Deal’s assistant managing editor. “And all they have to do to remain conflict-free is not buy into AEG.” That argument looks good on paper, but reality is altogether different.

A large concert promotion business is as attractive and provides the same conflicts of interest as, say, a management company or a small concert promoter. Both types of companies have been acquired by major labels in recent years. In addition, Live Nation has signed artists to multi-rights contracts, putting it in more direct competition with major labels. So why again would a major labels not want ownership in Live Nation’s main competitor? (The Deal)

-- Ideas on how to improve copyright are famously fewer in number than calls to improve copyright. The Financial Times’ John Gapper takes a swing – and misses. In a column Thursday, Gapper argues that today’s technologies – P2P, YouTube, et al – deserve shorter copyright terms. Part of the blame for copyright’s dire situation, he argues, comes from the Sonny Bono Act, which extended copyright protection to 95 years.

“[M]ost artists would, I suspect, take a 20-year copyright term that was rigorously enforced and gave them the rights the law is supposed to grant, in exchange for an imaginary century of ineffective protection.” But would a shorter term really result in less complication and better enforcement?

A shorter copyright term would benefit sampling culture, but many other areas would continue to be no less problematic. Consider that most file-sharing consists of newer releases. According to a 2007 study by Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf, the “current alternative” category alone accounts for 48.6% of files shared but only 19.1% of files on the network studied. Catalog titles, they found, consisted of only 12.6% of traded files. If college kids were downloading nothing but music from the 80s, Gapper might have a point. And consider the many problems caused by pre-release leaks. A shorter copyright term would not have an impact there.

“Shorten copyright and make it stick,” reads the headline of the article. Well, a shorter copyright would not necessarily solve the problems Gapper mentions. Making copyright stick – if that is even possible – is the better of the two remedies. Unfortunately, how to make copyright stick is a perplexing question that gets few good answers. (Financial Times)

-- The City of San Francisco has approved a 20-year lease with concert promoter Another Planet Entertainment for the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The promoter will make $10 million in improvements and plans to hold 50 or more concerts per year at the venue. Another Planet puts on the Outside Lands concert in Golden Gate Park and the Treasure Island Music Festival. It is also the exclusive promoter for the Greek Theater in Berkeley, the Fox Theater in Oakland, The Independent in San Francisco and Harvey’s Outdoor Ampitheatre in Lake Tahoe. (SF Gate)

-- Attorney Naomi Jane Gray thinks the Viacom v. YouTube decision “lacks heft.” This has been a recurring criticism of the court’s 30-page opinion. “Clients, in my experience, are never thrilled to be advised on the tenor of the law – they want to know what the law is, so they can act accordingly,” she writes.(Shades of Gray)

-- INgrooves has added distribution deals with UK label groups San City High, Upside Records, Genepool, Prime Direct Distribution and Groove Groove. (Press release)

-- LA-based indie label IAMSOUND has signed a multi-year distribution deal with Sony Music Distribution ex-North America. The first releases under the deal will be new albums by Men (featuring JD Samson, formerly of Le Tigre) and New Villager, which will be out next year via Columbia Records/IAMSOUND. The label has extended its distribution deal with Sony’s RED Distribution for the US and Canada.

Assorted Links
-- Why e-books will never replace real books. (
-- Handicapping the mobile music services. (Digital Noise)
-- Who participates online, by age. In pictures. (FlowingData)
-- Is angel investing headed for a crash? (VentureBeat)