Among other issues, Mills talks with The Register from Midem in Cannes about why major labels have failed at digital and pretty much everything else:Q: If the industry made a single mistake or strategic error in the last ten years, what would it be?A: Well, where do you start?
There are many, many of them. I think the major record companies have been obsessed with control, understandably, as almost any industry in their position would be, but to their ultimate detriment. They’ve been very defensive.
I think the whole “DRM as a policeman” policy was doomed to failure � the independent companies never supported it to any extent whatsoever. We have never believed in putting obstacles into what the consumer wants to do.
So I think that the industry determination to segment the market, and try and maintain a price per unit consumption model, has proved absolutely disastrous. Obviously suing Napster out of business, well, even EMI now agrees that was short-sighted. Clearly it was � the independents didn’t think so. Those are the big things.
The big part of the industry has, frankly, been Luddite. The independents less so, because quite frankly we have the opportunity not to be. We license every day of every week, and we’re not used to the level of control the majors have enjoyed, and want to continue enjoying.
Q: What’s the biggest consequence of the consolidation to a Big Four?
A: It’s access to media and access to retail. Clearly, if you own the amount of the market that Universal do, you can twist people’s arms for those few extra spaces that may go to independents or even to EMI.
Q: If you had a magic wand now what it would be � a single agreement or piece of legislation that would benefit Beggars and the independents?
A: I’m not sure there’s a single piece or agreement. We inhabit a mature industry that’s grown on a multi-territorial basis. And, frankly ,if you were reinventing it today you’d reinvent it way differently. It would be global, not territorial. All of the ways music is licensed are bogged down in territorial interests. Eventually, they’re going to disappear and it would be great if you could wave a magic wand and make it easier to license. We want to make it easier to get a license at a decent price.
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