Remember how there used to be all that piracy in the UK, and people were nabbing music for free all over the place, and then Universal launched the Music Matters campaign and all that went away?
It turned out that there was a really simple way for the major labels to convince the wider public that the record industry wasn’t staffed by a bunch of money-wasting fat cats who deserved to be ripped off by the file-sharing public – waste a load more money on some pretty but ultimately pointless videos. Including that one about how Blind Willie Johnson died in poverty despite providing the record industry with some of its most important recordings.
And then there was the Music Matters kite-mark to help consumers identify legitimate digital music services, which has been a huge success, even if no one knows what it means, and market leaders iTunes and Spotify don’t use it, rendering the whole thing pretty pointless.
Yeah, the Music Matters campaign. OK, so it’s unfair to expect one initiative to single-handedly kill, or even significantly wound, the beast that is piracy. And it’s good for the music industry to reach out to the public on copyright issues. And education is key in persuading young people to become music consumers when they are surrounded by so much free content. But the Music Matters campaign just never seemed to quite work – perhaps too obviously the result of a major label-led brainstorming session.
But hey, that’s not stopped the spread of the initiative around the world. Having been expanded into Australia and New Zealand, Music Matters has now arrived in America. Lucky America. The war against piracy will now surely be won, and we’ll be home by Christmas. Good times.
Launching Music Matters in the US, Cary Sherman, the boss of the Recording Industry Association Of America, which is backing the initiative, told reporters: “The music community has transformed how it does business, and the launch of the Why Music Matters site is another great milestone in that evolution. For the first time, in 2011 digital music revenues surpassed those generated from physical sales and that marker was reached because of a breathtaking array of services and platforms embraced by music companies”.
He added: “We understand that with so many options for accessing music online, users are eager for more information about which services are legitimate and what kinds of functionality they offer. That’s why we’re excited to be partnering with NARM and digitalmusic.org to launch whymusicmatters.com, which will hopefully make it easier for fans to access and discover sites that offer their favourite music. We’re grateful to our colleagues at [UK record industry trade body] BPI for creating Music Matters in 2010, followed by versions in Australia and New Zealand. We’re pleased to be able to expand the brand to the United States”.
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