Peter Gabriel on Sharing


CB: and your view on the copy protection issue?

PG: I’m on two sides of the fence, maybe three, as an artist, but I’ve also
got involved in OD2, which is a digital distribution network, so I’ve spent
a lot of time discussing the issue. In some ways we are the canary down the
mine, the first battle ground, but behind us goes anyone who creates
anything that can be turned into data whether its software, films pictures
or music. Do people who create material have entitlement to get royalties?
That’s a bigger question for society. I would argue that you would get
better range, better quality and better choice if you do pay the creator
something. We live in the luxury of the in between world at the moment where
some people pay for the records while others get it for free. It is the part
of it that is the market stall, and at a certain point there will be less
fruit on the stall if there’s no money coming in. It’s strange for me to see
some artists saying ‘yeah I’m all for file sharing and free down-loading’
and at the same time they take multi-million pound contracts from record
companies. In the case of our record label, Real World, many of the artists
get sixty or seventy percent of their income from record royalties. If that
is taken away, a lot of them will not be able to continue as working
musicians – the same applies to young bands, anyone outside of the
mainstream. The other side of the coin is what is it people would be
prepared to pay for? I think were it me, I would look for convenience and
speed with all the range of musical possibilities on offer – while the key
for me would be that it was well filtered, because I know that in twenty
hours of watching TV or listening to music, I know that there is better
stuff than I am currently getting but I don’t have the time or energy to
wade through it. That is something that I would pay for. I read a few years
ago that the average record is played 1.3 times, and at first that depressed
me a lot until I thought about it and looked at my own record collection and
realised that it was probably about right; while there maybe twenty or so
discs that you play regularly, there is a ton of stuff that has just been
casual purchases – maybe you liked the cover – and you played it once and
never went back to it. This should be reflected in the price one pays for
the download, if you try and charge what you would pay in a record store
it’s never going to work.

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