A full version of This Week in News will be out on Friday, but here are a few highlights from last week.
Should musicians be paid by social network sites?
After AOL bought social networking site Bebo for $850 million, songwriter Billy Bragg wonders why artists don’t receive royalties. He reasons that musicians help attract users, and the sale of the website for such a staggering sum clearly indicates that these users have significant monetary value.
New York Times, March 22nd
UPDATE: Here's a piece from e-consultancy.com which doesn't agree with all of Bragg's points, but still makes a strong case for why musicians deserve to be paid for recorded works. The author also debunks some of the pervasive myths among the "music should be free" crowd.
Fans take "wiki" over MySpace for music info
A new survey indicates that fans looking for information about a band turn to Wikipedia more often than MySpace or the band’s official website. Promoters and artists focus on the latter two sources, but consumers are twice as likely to click the Wikipedia entry as the band’s MySpace page. Musicians, take note.
Yahoo, March 22nd
Music Industry Proposes a Piracy Surcharge on ISPs
This idea has been floated before, but now it’s being taken seriously by the RIAA. Record labels are beginning to warm to a plan to charge a flat fee ($5 a month is the usual suggestion) to allow internet users to download music for free legally. The money would, in theory, go to the artists. Skeptics contend that charging everyone assumes that all people are criminals, and would even cost people who have no interest in music.
Wired, March 13th
Musicians seek extra ways to connect with fans, build market
Faced with rapidly declining sales, more and more artists are cramming their CDs with extras, like studio or concert footage or bonus tracks. Singer Ann Murray says that it was odd to have cameras in the recording studio, and “making of” features immediate bring to mind the depressing “Let It Be” movie. But these extras can help mitigate the drop in CD sales.
The Canadian Press, March 21st