During the third and final day of U.K. music conference In The City in Manchester, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason likened the band’s recent court case with EMI to “fighting a rear-guard action.”
In March this year Pink Floyd won a London High Court battle with the British music major in a ruling covering digital sales.
It was widely interpreted that the ruling would prevent EMI from selling single track downloads from the group’s albums, although many single tracks are still available to buy from iTunes in the U.K. There are some exceptions: “Us and Them” is only available when purchasing the whole of “Dark Side of the Moon” and the longer tracks on “Wish You Were Here” are only available as part of the album bundle.
Discussing the March ruling alongside fellow keynote speaker Jeremy Silver, acting CEO of the Featured Artists’ Coalition, Mason told a packed room of delegates that the motivation behind the case was “fighting a rear guard action.”
“Unfortunately, it’s probably useful to a few bands rather than the majority because it is sort of predicated on the importance of the songs being linked to each other. It’s unlikely to help in a number of [other] cases,” Mason went on to say in a compelling address in which he said that his advice for artists entering the industry “always came down to the same thing: safeguard your rights don’t sign everything away initially, however bad you want that deal.”
Quizzed by Silver on Pink Floyd’s approach to iTunes, Mason was rather more elusive explaining that the band have “tended to do short licenses” with the Apple store. Pressed on the reason why, a smiling Mason paused before jokingly responding: “We are considering our options.”
The perennial question of whether Pink Floyd will reform for further live shows following their appearance at the 2005 Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London, meanwhile, saw Mason voice his desire for the band to reunite and perform once again.
“I think Live8 hopefully was a template for something we would do again,” Mason told delegates. “I think it would be a very nice way for a band to gently move towards retirement: playing shows absolutely for charity rather than for more income.”
“We’ll take the income on the T-shirts and play music for fun,” he joked, later adding that he would like to one day see the entire Pink Floyd back catalog re-issued as a deluxe digital package complete with artwork, images and videos, similar in design to the limited edition Beatles apple-shaped USB drive released last year, which contained 14 studio albums, documentaries, art work, photos and linear notes.
“I’d love to go along that sort of route in terms of either as a physical thing or as an ultimate download. But we’re certainly not there at the moment,” Mason told the audience.
How Guetta Went Global
Earlier in the day, David Guetta manager Caroline Prothero told delegates that collaborations between dance DJs and urban artists, such as those between Guetta and Black Eyed Peas, had helped “take dance music to the next level.”
Speaking at the dance keynote address entitled “Unlocked Beats,” Prothero told delegates that tireless persistence had also been a key driver in Guetta’s global success.
“We had to grab opportunities when they were available to us. It would be a call saying we need to be in L.A. in Monday so we shifted things around,” said Prothero, who has represented Guetta for over ten years and recently added Australian sisters Nervo — who wrote and produced Guetta’s global smash “When Love Takes Over,” featuring Kelly Rowland — to her management roster.
“I don’t think we’ve even touched the surface yet,” Prothero stated when asked about whether the current dance boom will continue. “I think social networking has connected [all] the scenes worldwide. This hasn’t happened overnight. This is twenty years in the making.”
Other standout panels that took place during the final day of In The City (Oct. 16) included a lively debate on the future of concert ticketing, as well as a seminar examining the popularity of the U.K.’s thriving dubstep dance scene, which has made the crossover from the underground to commercial success in the United Kingdom this year and is now rapidly growing in popularity worldwide.
According to organizers, the number of delegates attending the In The City — which this year restructured its management team and placed a greater emphasis on education, introducing a learning program aimed at ages 16-plus called In The City Hive – had grown from 800 the previous year to almost 1,800, although many passes were distributed free to media representatives and students. Of those, organizers claimed that approx 45% were paid delegates, attracted by a vast reduction in delegate prices, which this year begun at around £100 ($160) for advance registration.
CEO Philip Coen told Billboard.biz that he was “absolutely delighted” with how the event had been received by media commentators, industry delegates and attending artists.
“People now are looking at In The City with a refreshed vigor,” Coen told Billboard.biz. “They’re looking with a new perspective and I think we’ve got the ability now to build on that in various forms and shapes over the next few years. In The City wants to position itself within the live arena, the conference arena and the education arena as a trusted source that people can engage with.”