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Peter Gabriel: Digital Music Downloading's Future 99

securitas writes "CNN International's Becky Anderson interviews musician and OD2 online music service co-founder Peter Gabriel about the future of digital music downloads. The interview covers Gabriel's motivations in starting OD2, how technology has changed the music industry business model in the favor of artists and away from the big record labels, and where the small, independent artist fits in. Gabriel's words have weight because of his insights as both a musician/artist and a businessman who guided a digital music on demand distribution (OD2) and download service to success."
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Peter Gabriel: Digital Music Downloading's Future

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  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) on Saturday July 24, 2004 @09:25AM (#9788641) Homepage Journal

    Gabriel: That's always the question. There are deals being done now where the independents are going to get screwed again, I think. Where they're told they're on a level playing field but actually the big boys are. And again, I think it's only by staying together, and consolidating as a lump, that has some leverage and some power, that the little guy can have a chance to compete. The great thing about the economics of the digital world is that it's much cheaper to do everything and to reach people.

    I think that this is something that everyone outside of the time/warner, sony, etc cartels who want to be in the music industry need to take heed of. If the big boys are consolidating, then maybe the smaller labels and distributors should put aside their personal ambitions and look at the larger picture...before they're written out of it.
    • This does seem to be one of the big problems, as he mentioned a couple times in the interview - the little guy (independent, or just an artist) gets run over in the mad dash for power. Independent labels and artists are simply too diffuse to have an real say.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What the big guys fear is that ANYONE can simply record their music or video's and put it on line and bypass the cartels. In fact, the whole monopolistic industry of entertainment is shaking in their boots.

      Why? InternetTV. Forget HDTV, cable TV, DVD and other, I want InternetTV where I get to choose what I watch and what I subscribe to.

      The industry pouncing on companies like ICraveTV show how desperate they are to control what we see (and we thought it was just Outer Limits).

      See []
    • Unfortunately, consolidation often leads to far more problems than one might think. In about as close to ideal in a given social system (yes, an industry is a social system) the safest system is one in which there is little, if any consolidation. It leaves room for differences, such as varying music styles. However, once people start consolidating under major groups, something interesting starts to happen.

      The smaller entities start getting shoved out of the big picture. You are no longer dealing with the
    • Unfortunately, Gabriel has missed a key point. Everything he mentions would be true and would provide a great way forward for musicians in the digital era, if only it weren't for one collosal problem.

      Musicians live within an extremely complex community embracing music production, fandom, distribution, a major hype machine, journalism, radio and television, thousands of associated forms of business, professional institutions of various kinds, and a strong legal environment, all parts of which sustain each
      • Sounds like he's well aware of the situation to me. Also if some artists are too dumb to see the situation they are quite in their rights to allow themselves to be owned....

        "Gabriel: Well you see, I think that a lot of artists aren't very good when it comes to marketing or accounts or doing a lot of the jobs that record companies do, so we're going to want somebody to do that. And probably the people we will look to do it are probably those who have the experience. But what I fundamentally believe is that
    • If your an independent artist or on a small label your not going to get on Itunes and these other services. It doesnt matter how good your music is! Peter is dead on with his assessment and it is happening now. Technology has leveled the playing field somewhat but the labels and media companies hate that and are taking over content control. It took them awhile to adjust to the new scenario but now they have the upper hand. RIAA is now creating the Golden download award but dont expect any surprises here. I
  • listen to the man (Score:5, Informative)

    by jacquesm ( 154384 ) <j AT ww DOT com> on Saturday July 24, 2004 @09:29AM (#9788654) Homepage
    Peter Gabriel has always been one of the music scene's most technologically advanced members. For instance with Genesis he pioneered the use of lasers during concerts.
    • Gabriel has always been into technology, but I believe Genesis' involvement with Vari*Lite k=Company&category=Main [] came long after his departure.
      • Re:listen to the man (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jacquesm ( 154384 ) <j AT ww DOT com> on Saturday July 24, 2004 @12:22PM (#9789479) Homepage
        I'm not aware of 'varilight', but I do know that a friend of mine used to tour with Genesis and did their first laser shows (they *built* their own stuff, hardware, software and so on, practically between gigs). This is way back when Gabriel was still in charge.
      • Varilite were one of the coolest lighting companies to work for in the eighties (and maybe the 90's too). Not only did the engineers get to play with some of the most cutting edge robotics technology, but also got to make lighting designers dreams come true on a massive scale. I was in Spain for a show in the mid 80's that was part of a summer long festival series put together by a TV company, and they had rented a Varilite rig for the summer to handle the higher level lighting work. The engineer, who aolo
        • I forgot to mention that one night I asked the Varilite guy (I can't remember his name - sorry) if he could make the lights do the same epic display that Genesis used to do for the end of one of their songs (Los Endos?) which is featured on the front of their a live album Seconds Out but he told me that was one their signature displays and no Varilite engineer worth his salt would risk using it in the same way. He did make them do it during a rehearsal a few days later, with the smoke and everything, and I
    • He also pioneered the art of wearing big bulky flower costumes during performance! Gabriel's Genesis days were bizarre, indeed.

      Seriously, Gabriel is one of my favorite musicians. He defitely brings a feeling of originality to each record with new instruments and arrangements. He was one of the first musicians to use samplers, world music, and the Chapman "Stick []" on his records. Now, if only he would put out more than one record a decade!

  • When I was younger I was sooo much a fan of Peter Gabriel I'd tape his songs off the radio.
    • You pirate! People like you make the internet a bad place. The RIAA will be subpoena-ing Slashdot to get your IP with evidence like that so freely available.
  • by k4_pacific ( 736911 ) < minus pi> on Saturday July 24, 2004 @09:31AM (#9788660) Homepage Journal
    Peter Gabriel was quoted as saying, "I'd like to hit the RIAA with a SLEDGE-HAMMER dunt-duh. After all, I've kicked the RIAA habit, (kicked the habit, whoo)"
  • by Asprin ( 545477 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dlonrasg'> on Saturday July 24, 2004 @09:32AM (#9788662) Homepage Journal

    Sorry guys, OD2 is Win/IE only. No Mac, no Linux, no Moz.
    • Yep:

      The site you have tried to enter requires Internet Explorer 5 (or better) with Windows Media Player 7 (or better) on Windows XP, 2000, Me or 98. Click Here to use our Doctor Download application to help you check your configuration alternatively Email Dr Download.

      Please try again.

      As seen on MacOS X with Safari. Same result with Konqueror. UA spoofing does not help.
    • ...exactly where did you encounter this? I surfed around extensively and everything just worked.

      No UA spoofing, no nothing. Gentoo with: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7) Gecko/20040703 Firefox/0.9.1
      • Aside from any webbrowsing barriers, the files themselves are in Microsoft Windows Media DRM format. So even if you get the website to work you won't be able to use the service.

        Not that getting locked out of the service is exactly a big deal. Who the hell wants to buy a DRM crippled product anyway?

  • Too Bad. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OS24Ever ( 245667 ) *
    I'm addicted to the iTunes Music Store, and since I have an iPod I'm not really going to switch to OD2. Though I really respect Peter Gabriel's work and music, he needs to get OD2 and iTunes together I'd think since they only support Windows from what I can tell, and that pretty much locks me out on my desktop or server OS platform of choice.
  • by JasonUCF ( 601670 ) <jason-slashdawt@jnl p r o .com> on Saturday July 24, 2004 @09:41AM (#9788698) Homepage
    a businessman who guided a digital music on demand distribution (OD2) and download service to success.

    Durrr... I dig Peter Gabriel, and I dig this concept, but, uh, success? Can we have any stats to back that up?

    In January, it seemed [] like the store had varying rights per label, delivering only Windows Media songs. Varying DRM'd files with fine print? Ok, I guess people were buying [] into it when they introduced that penny per streaming song thing.

    Outside of that I've seen no press releases or 3rd party sites talking about OD2 as a "success". Are we qualifying it by the fact that they're still here after 6 months? The submission just feels weird to me.. I couldn't even find any stats thru google [].

    (again, I dig Mr. Gabriel, and I appreciate him and Mr. Eno coming up with a new concept. It's nice for iTunes to have competition.. but I need to see some numbers to endear a service with only DRM'd WM9 files servicing 3-4 countries of the EU as a "success". Even the BBC [] calls them a success with no numbers!)

  • by tenjinzan ( 799758 ) on Saturday July 24, 2004 @09:47AM (#9788719)
    This won't work for any artist other than mainstream artists, unless the indie artist gets airtime. Radio stations are still owned by big corporations, and like to shove thier music down your throat...until there are more places like IRL [], then this model will probably not work for small artists. What Gabriel is suggesting is alot like communism...looks great on paper, but in the real world, other things need to change, not just how you buy the music. He is suggesting a change that will alow ANY artist to sell thier own works, but that really does need alot of help in the "Gabriel: Well you see, I think that a lot of artists aren't very good when it comes to marketing or accounts or doing a lot of the jobs that record companies do" area....and that doesn't necessarily mean that the RIAA can still have a job. Fsck the RIAA! I want to choose the music that I want to listen to!
    • Unlike broadcast, anyone could set up a radio on the 'net and reach all over the world. I could tune into a number of stations that played exactly the kind of music I like, and more importantly, hear music I'd not have heard otherwise. As large as my jukebox is, it's still only got music I own (or not, depending on RIAA's PoV) in it.

      Nowadays, I look at play-lists from clubs and look at what's being played and try find samples of artists who get mixed in with stuff that I like. The only radio I listen to is
  • Tiscali Music Club: System Check

    In order to enter the Tiscali Music Club you must have the following on your PC:

    * Internet Explorer 5.0 (or better) - Click here to download the latest version
    * Windows Media Player 7.0 (or better) - Click here to download the latest version
    * Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP

    • I think it needs to be mentioned that Tiscali sucks at most things including customer service ("we cut your phone off because of a billing mistake that _we_ made, we didnt give you a number to call, theres no number on any of the bills, and even when you find a number you wont be able to call it because we cut you off. However when you finally do call.. and get through (peak rate on your mobile) we will fob you off to as many departments as we can until we tell you that you owe us money but we cant take you
    • Internet Explorer 5.0 (or
      IOW, Safari, Firefox, Mozilla, Omniweb, Opera...
  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Saturday July 24, 2004 @10:44AM (#9788971)
    Downloading takes the critical distribution link in the music delivery chain away from the big companies. That alone gives the artist the biggest chance to break free that they've ever had. P2P file-sharing, not iTunes-style pay-per-download, weakens the promotion link in the music delivery chain to some extent as well. That is, it doesn't cost you anything to experiment.

    Big promotions via radio and ad campaigns are a different matter. Pretty tough for the small artist to negotiate with ClearChannel for airtime. Also pretty tall order for them to finance a billboard in Times Square. But that's the case now, so perhaps we're looking at a future where small artists starting out have to look to viral marketing to get their name out there.

    What must go is the big labels acting like dictators, oppressing artists and dumbing down music to fit their marketing models. They should shrink and shrink until they're like specialized ad agencies, marketing a product like every other firm on Madison Avenue does. Then successful artists can hire them just like they'd hire an accountant, retain a lawyer, or any other sort of specialized service.

    It's still not easy for small artists to accomplish what a label does now, but with home-recording studios more affordable than ever, P2P file-sharing for free advertising, and accounting software like Quicken it's more possible now than it ever has been for the motivated indy artist to DYI their own success.
    • P2P has always been touted as a method of promotion, but in reality it isnt. P2p technology by nature only serves as an outlet for distribution, not a method of promotion. Sadly brick and mortar promotion channels still have the most clout in getting the word out to a broad audience and this is why the current industry is model is king. They know it, and I think most slashdotters sorely fear its true. Think of the dot coms, why would these companies spend millions to advertise on tv and radio when their tar
      • Personally I get more from iTunes than from bricks & mortar. Possibly this is an age thing -- going into a music store makes me feel old so I don't just go in and browse. To be honest, I'm pretty lost in a music store now, even on the top 20 I wouldn't have heard of 19 of the artists.

        I also find p2p helps somewhat. I hear something and thing, hmm that sound ok. I then download more from p2p and see if I like it before getting the CD. Though this is really just a backup for iTunes.
  • I recently discovered AllOfMP3 [], a Russian music store, because I was trying to find music by Eva Cassidy [] online and neither iTunes [] or Napster [] carry her music [].

    This site offers pay by bandwidth download of digital music, $10(US) per 1GB, and even allows you to select the bitrate and format of your download (including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, etc).

    I was a bit wary at first, and I carefully reviewed the legal info [] provided on the site. I was reassured by the fact that they accept PayPal and are PayPal verified []
  • OD2 apparently has "virus free music". Is that something new and innovative or what?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      KaZaA sez:

      BritneySpearsChris tinaAguilaraShakiraThreesumXXXcu m.mpg.exe
      SpearsBrit neyPron.exe
      Download_Britney_HOT_XXX_NUDE_PHOTOS. jpg.exe
  • Yes! (Score:2, Funny)

    by natrius ( 642724 )
    Now I can hold up my MP3 player in front of my girlfriend's house and play In Your Eyes to win her back!

    But if I actually had a girlfriend to win back, I wouldn't be posting on Slashdot, would I?
  • how does one GET successful using these new models.

    many of the models for independent records, such as those created by King Crimson (DGM), Marillion, Peter Gabriel, Phish, et al, all work for those artists because they already have a large fan base from their days when they WERE on major labels, with major promotion budgets (or at least major touring budgets).

    the independent approach (whether independent labels or downloads) can sustain an artist once they've reached a certain success level, but simply d
    • What you state is the primary difference between a "garage" band and a "studio" band. The bottom line is: if, as an artist, you want to make it big, get your name out there. How does an indie do it? By playing locally to start with. How does an RIAA puppet do it? Go to the studio. The fact of the matter is, actually WORKING is what brings in the cash; not some pseudo-moronic suit in California or New York telling you what you need to listen to. I think that concept has left the US; that one actually
  • I compliment this man on finding a good business idea. Create a music service "package", and sell it to everybody else. Kind of like how the people who really got rich during the goldrush were the people selling shovels.

    However, for work I did some research into online music services, and really have to say that I am not happy with the quality of OD2. Lousy selection, high price for what you get, and it has restrictions up the whazoo.

    So while he gets kudos for being intelligent enough to start the busine

Everyone can be taught to sculpt: Michelangelo would have had to be taught how not to. So it is with the great programmers.