Planet Rock

Austin, Texas, SXSW 2005

Planet Rock
Photo By Gary Miller

The Shape of Things to Come Panel

Austin Convention Center, Saturday, March 19

The music business can be a cruel mistress. Saturday afternoon's panel attempted to chart out exactly what its future may hold, most notably in terms of downloadable music. The panel was helmed by Brad King, Web editor for Technology Review, and featured Sandy Pearlman, an industry veteran and visiting scholar from McGill University who's working on a music search engine; Peter Jenner, former manager for T. Rex and the Clash; Michael Bracy, policy director for the Future of Music Coalition; Jay Frank, head of programming for Yahoo Music; and Neeru Paharia, assistant director for Creative Commons, an online group that allows artists to keep their copyrights. One of the most contentious points was Pearlman's idea of "5-cent downloads" for all music online. "Teenagers don't want to own the music, they just want access to it," countered Frank. "Not all music is created equal. Why does it have to be a flat five cents?" To which Jenner responded: "Twenty years ago, no one paid for TV. Now people pay $150." The panel discussed ways to distribute music, whether it's through subscription services or paying for each download. The future shape of music is amorphous, but there's hope in making sense of all this:

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