Longtime U2 manager Paul McGuinness has reiterated his belief that tech companies should do more to help artists.
“I really wish those geniuses who bring us Google, Facebook, Amazon and Spotify would get their act together,” he said via telephone from Brazil on Sky News’ Jeff Randall Live television program.
McGuinness has been outspoken about the role tech companies play in the music value chain. At the Midem conference in January 2008, for example, he urged them share their ingenuity and take a more active role in reducing piracy. “I call on them today to start doing two things: first, taking responsibility for protecting the music they are distributing; and second, by commercial agreements, sharing their enormous revenues with the content makers and owners.”
A year later, McGuinness told CNET that rights holders deserved to be paid for the free exchange of their works on networks. “Realistically the only way they are going to be recompensed is in partnership with ISPs, who after all, are collecting revenues from their subscribers.”
U2 can still sell albums, McGuinness told Sky News, but he sees little revenue coming from the Internet (he has always spoken out on behalf of all artists, not just his immensely successful clients). “We are still selling an awful lot of records. The current U2 record, which was released in 2009, ‘No Line on the Horizon,’ has sold nearly five million copies. So record sales have not disappeared completely. What hasn’t happened yet is the monetizing of the Internet.”
His comments came immediately after U2’s 360 tour surpassed the Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang tour to become the highest grossing tour of all time. And McGuinness’s comments ignore the billions of dollars spent globally on mostly downloads but also music subscription services. Licensing and digital performance revenue related to digital music is also on the rise. So music is being monetized on the Internet – although the argument can be made it is not being monetized satisfactorily.
When the host pointed out the free downloads make for a great promotional tool that can benefit concert attendance, McGuinness replied, “Well, that’s one of our two businesses. We make records and we do shows. Music has never been more popular worldwide. People are listening to it more than ever. They’re just not paying for it. It’s not the downloading that’s the problem. It’s a bit of ingenuity and a bit of generosity that’s required from the people who are making money from the internet to make sure the newspaper, movie, music industries are still there in a decade’s time and with content.”