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U2's Paul McGuinness - "Drowning Man"

By VF's Steve Jenner: I had the honour of speaking at last week's Midem music industry conference in Cannes, France, about the exciting ways in which emerging technologies - particularly on the web - are going to revolutionise the market for live music.

In another (bigger) room, U2 manager Paul McGuinness was delivering his own thoughts on the matter. At the time, I was disappointed that our appearances clashed, as I have long regarded Mr. McGuinness as a legend and I would have liked to have seen him. In hindsight, I'm very glad that I didn't witness first hand these undignified death throws of a dinosaur entering extinction.

How the times they are a-changing. McGuinness is often refered to as the "5th member" of U2. This is the man credited with turning that unbecoming, be-mulleted, whining creature (Bono) into the biggest rock star on the planet and sustaining this in the face of ever spectacular levels of embarassment (on Bono's part). Accordingly, the manager is up there in the rock svengali Top 5 with the likes of Peter Grant (Led Zep), Brian Epstein (The Beatles), Colonel Parker (Elvis) and Ian Faith (Spinal Tap).

Extrordinary then, to read in the papers what an astonishing load of bunkum spewed forth from his face when he spoke at Midem and accused the technology sector (currently the sinking music industry's life-raft) of screwing over the business. One can only presume that he was too busy to write his speech and had Bono do it for him.

The rock business peddles some right old cobblers a lot of the time, but he came out with some absolute jaw-droppers at the industry shindig.

First off, he accused the tech industry of being "extremely socially irresponsible" - to a room full of music executives who've made millions out of pedalling (admittedly often entertaining) tales of sex, drugs, bling and murder.

He then castigated the tech industry for adopting "hippy values" that the music biz itself shamelessly promotes on one hand, while on the other conducting itself with all the decorum of a school of sharks.

He lectured the tech industry on not understanding the "special value" of music, as if this "special value" should imply special treatment.

He's predictably concerned about file sharing, Apple iPods and illegal downloading, saying companies like Yahoo and AOL should be prosecuted for illegal filesharing, and downloaders should be legally barred from accessing the internet if they continue to download.

He's changed his tune then since U2 were paid millions by Apple to officially endorse the iPod a few years ago (when CD's were still going strong).

Others like him go further and argue for all internet connections to be monitored and taxed, so much the better to keep the music industry forever in drugs and limos.

Why stop there - what about all those other industries that are being forced to change? Shall we tax Internet Service Providers to keep them happy too, until the cost of getting online is £150 a month and you need a special government department to collect and distribute the money to all the different companies with their noses in the trough?

Here's an idea: if the music industry wants a cut out of broadband, then stump up and buy some ISPs of their own.

Accountants like McGuiness should feel worried, because as bands like Prince and the Arctic Monkeys increasingly discover new ways to use the internet to promote and make (perhaps not as much) money with music - people like him who fail to move with the grain of events, will be out of a job. Certainly the sort of job that nets him (allegedly) a fifth of the band's income.

These old dinosaurs in the music industry seem to want it both ways: the freedom to spread whatever messages they want while denying us the freedom to consume those messages how we wish.

I've never been more glad to be an active part of the revolution, shifting the power away from these bloated idiots, back into the hands of the talented artists they have been creaming off for decades.

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Uploaded By: virtualfestivals
1 Day ago

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