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If you talk to people like John Weinzweig or Alexina Louie or Murray Schafer, they’re still livid 15 years later because they used to earn enough to enable them to compose and lecture without having to take a day job like an academic position. But all of a sudden that rug was pulled out from under them—I’m not saying unfairly, I understand the pop composers’ and publishers’ point of view. But the serious composers and publishers saw their incomes reduced drastically. Today, an academic appointment really is essential if you’re a serious composer. It’s a tough situation and it’s not unique to Canada, of course.” Ullmann, who is now 68, has seen other changes to the concert music landscape during his nearly 40-year career. Like the upheavals being wrought today by the digital music revolution, concert music publishers were hurt tremendously by the introduction of photocopying in the 1960s. “Before that secretaries still typed everything in duplicate and triplicate with carbons and onion skins,” remembers Ullmann. “Then, suddenly a music teacher could go into a shop and for 5 cents a page, make a whole set and take it into school. That hadn’t really been an option before the photocopier. Unfortunately, it’s widespread now.” “Another significant event,” recalls Ullman, “was the founding of the Canadian Music Centre in 1959. By the time I was at University in 1965 I remember Professor Beckwith taking us down to the CMC and showing us what it was and how it essentially did the job of a music publisher because there weren’t enough publishers in Canada promoting Canadian composers. The CMC is one of the best such organizations in the world.” When Boosey & Hawkes shuttered its Canadian office, Ullmann struck out on his own founding Counterpoint Musical Services in 1994 with assistance from his former B&H colleague, Jean-Marie Barker. Today, Counterpoint promotes the talents of a small but impressive roster of leading Canadian composers including Gary Kulesha, Jeffrey McCune, Victor Davies, Malcolm Forsyth and Glenn Buhr. The company also acts as a rental agent or sub-publisher for a variety of prestigious international catalogues. “Counterpoint is a small operation,” qualifies Ullmann. “We publish a few Canadian composers and we act for some European publishers. My goal is not to set the world on fire before I retire but to help develop the careers of the composers I represent and to continue to make a contribution to the professional organizations in my industry that defend and further copyright protection for intellectual property.” When Ullmann finally does retire he'll be able to look back on his accomplishments with the satisfaction of knowing he has played a significant role in helping to keep serious music alive in Canada during a difficult period. For a Hungarian refugee who fled his homeland in 1957 with no money and no English-language skills, Ullmann has much of which to be proud.
Gerd Leonhard continued from page 12
when you flip through the channels on cable you don’t have to keep plugging in your ID, it’s just there, use it or not. So imagine the kinds of exploration that will take place when people can surf for music the way they surf on cable TV. The jump from our present music business model to your idealized “music like water” utility model represents a radical shift. Can you describe how the changeover might take place? Ultimately, what I think is going to happen is that a company like Google is going to say, “How about if we pay the subscription fee and in return we get to dish out some advertising along with the content?” So imagine if Google pays your fee, you get the music for free and if it works seamlessly with your devices, you’re home free as a user. My guess is this is two years away, probably less because the user in such a system is worth a lot more to advertisers than the consumer would have spent buying music in the old system. This is the model that everybody’s looking at right now, Nokia, Motorola with iRadio, it’s a very powerful model. And so I think you’ll see these kinds of services coming very soon. Right now, everybody’s getting music for free on file-sharing networks and the labels and music publishers aren’t collecting anything from those uses because they’re not licensing those networks. Ultimately, I see market pressure forcing the utility model into being. There’s not going to be agreement by the per-copy faction, which is based on the status quo. I think this is a legal issue that needs to be addressed by Congress just like radio was in the 1920s. The broadcast license was born via legislation. After radio was legalized in the ’20s and cable TV was legalized in the 1970s, both industries just exploded and everybody was much happier. After Congress legalized video recording the industry came up with rental videos and then DVD’s, which represents something like 43 per cent of the film market now. So Congress is going to look at this and I think the goal ultimately will be to make sure the market works. Letting the Americans determine the value of these rights is risky though because they tend to undervalue the work of creators, certainly compared to how things are valued in Europe. The idea of individual nation laws is already over to a large degree, we just haven’t noticed yet. Everything being done in terms of economy or intellectual property is a global concern; I see WIPO and the United Nations as major drivers of these issues. For me it comes down to pressure on the market but on the other hand, also a willingness to experiment. The original radio license was initially an experiment. The system can’t require that every time a company wants to provide music online they have to go to the same four companies to get a license because then it’s basically a matter of we like you or we don’t like you. That doesn’t work. For the publisher, compulsory has always been better. If nothing else it puts down a basic calculation item that people can then figure into their business plans. Rather than accept the two per cent radio typically pays for music use, I’d be much more aggressive and ask for 10 per cent of the e-commerce revenues be given to the content owners. So if a search engine is using music to drive traffic I think they should be paying those kinds of license fees and ultimately I think they’d be quite happy with that because it’s still cheaper for them than to not have the music. For more on Gerd Leonhard visit www.mediafuturist.com.
Music Publisher Canada / Summer 2006 11
UESTIONS for Gerd Leonhard
In The Future of Music you’re highly critical of the old thinking on which the record business is built and contrastingly positive about the future of music publishing. In fact, you But people aren’t paying for podcasts at this write: “Ultimately, publishing will, by default, point. become inseparable from distribution. The tasks No, but you don’t necessarily want people performed by what used to be ‘record labels’ will to pay for the content in a one-to-one relabe morphed into the publishing business . . .” tionship. For example with a book, you buy Can you elaborate? the book, you pay for the book, there’s no The basic thing going on in digital advertising in the book. But on the internet networks is that something is being pubit’s possible to sell all kinds of coupled melished; people publish themselves, they dia so that people buy one thing but they get publish other people. What music pubseveral others with it. In the bundling prolishers realize is that it’s no longer about cess you can create value for the user but it delivery because delivery is essentially doesn’t cost very much for the producer. In free, or at least the cost is moving towards the future we won’t sell media like we used free because storage is so cheap now. So to sell CDs. We’ll bundle it, wrap it in other the challenge lies not in the distribution offerings, do quite a bit of up-selling, we’ll but in gaining the consumer’s attention. move the toll booth. A publisher makes money by having his material paid attention to, As I said, you no longer look to sell a song for $1, that’s not going basically by exposure. The music publisher used to go to Nashville to work in any large way. What’s going to work is selling a wireless and tell an artist, “Record this song and we’ll all make a million.” subscription to Sprint, for example, where you pay $3 for any and Now he goes to the web and posts his stuff, essentially previewing it all streams of music on the network, you just dial in. And with that as widely as possible through, for example, syndication and blogs, you have a mechanism to capture interest. But that’s where the legal podcasts, videogames, thereby creating demand. So as a pub“The only way to solve the problems in the music business is to go from lisher, all you have to do is set up the toll booth a little bit buying to subscribing because the value proposition for the user is much later—you don’t want to ask more powerful. Imagine the kinds of exploration that will take place when for money too early because people can surf for music the way they surf on cable TV.” it turns off the exposure. MySpace.com is a good example, it provides unpaid musical performances and downloads and challenge comes in; you can no longer say it’s a per-unit or per-copy nobody’s saying much about it because it’s essentially the next MTV. fee. We see a revenue share and this is also why publishers are in a Getting all that exposure is worth a lot more than getting $37 for a great position because they’ve always worked with revenue shares, performance. So publishers understand that the internet is a great while the record guys are so locked into a per-unit mentality. vehicle for exposure, while a distributor, which is really a record label (at least it used to be), is no longer much of a game because In the book you suggest that the ownership models of iTunes and other distribution is not a big deal anymore. digital retailers are doomed, that the model of the future will position music as a service rather than as a product. And yet subscription services have so Neither is production—another point you make in your book. These days far been very slow to catch on. What do you think will be the chief catalyst in everybody’s got ProTools and GarageBand on their computers and can record shifting the public’s consumption behaviour? a song in their bedroom. Music subscriptions as offered by Napster and Yahoo and RhapRight, but although it’s getting cheaper, it’s not getting easier. sody are fantastic services but they’re not quite working yet as techTo make a good song or a good production is probably even more nologies because you can't port the music to a mobile device (at difficult now because you have more options. To me, creating good least you couldn't the last time I tried). So there are significant content and having professional level production really is profes- problems because of digital rights management software. Subscribsional work. You may be able to write a song on the spur of the mo- ers have to be painstakingly geeky to make it work. iTunes is so sucment but to whip it into shape and make it sound great is a whole cessful because it’s fashionable and it’s a great device, but musicother cup of tea. So that means the publisher is in particularly good wise, eventually you stop buying at $1 per song, I mean you’re not shape because the song or the idea can be created rather quickly going to spend $20,000 to fill your iPod. but somebody will have to pay for the production, which may or The only way to solve the problems in the music business is to go may not be the publisher these days. All the publisher has to do is from buying to subscribing because the value proposition for the get his or her hands into the revenue streams that are basically com- user is much more powerful. As a subscriber I have seemingly limiting up out of the blue, for example, podcasting and webcasting. less choices and it feels like free in a way, just like Continues page 11
12 Music Publisher Canada / Summer 2006
Co-author of The Future of Music talks about how and why music publishers are poised to make the most of the digital revolution.
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