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Bainwol & Kennedy Discuss Universal Flat Fees For Downloads

CANNES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — In a very surprising reversal, the major labels appear to be willing to consider global license fees for downloadable music at the ISP level. According to the New York Times, during a recent press conference at MIDEM, the head of the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry John Kennedy said "It's a model worth looking at. If the ISPs want to come to us and look for a blanket license for an amount per month, let's engage in that discussion."

Wow, could this be the beginning of the new media model in the offing? Maybe so but the RIAA is still coming to grips with the idea: RIAA head Mitch Bainwol was quick to note that any such consideration would be "on a voluntary, commercial basis."

It's not the first time that there's been discussion (outside of Lefsetz) of such a plan. Way back in the distant days of 2006, a group proposed just such a plan with an $8.66 monthly fee. The money would then be distributed amongst a confederation of copyright holders. At the time, the proposal was met by the RIAA with polite smiles and little else. So what's the difference now?

CD sales have continued to tank in the face of an expanding download market. The writing on the wall is surely becoming more legible every day, even to the apparently myopic major labels who've been continuing to flog the CD model (SACD format, which has recently returned sound quality to the level of vinyl for instance). Additionally, Microsoft has already started an experiment along these lines with UMG in which the label group gets a flat fee for each Zune that Microsoft manages to sell. A half-way measure to be sure, but it appears as if UMG is ever so slowly inching its way forward, albeit with shoes of lead.

In the final analysis, we here at CelebrityAccess aren't holding our collective breath for dramatic change to transpire soon, but change is in the air. If the majors don't find some way to transition to a workable new model, the decisions will be made without their input. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers