Valuing Music

In the NY Times, Billy Bragg suggests that the social networking sites that have developed their audiences by hosting music should have to consider paying royalties for that music: The Royalty Scam

In our discussions, we largely ignored the elephant in the room: the issue of whether he ought to consider paying some kind of royalties to the artists. After all, wasn’t he using their music to draw members — and advertising — to his business? Social-networking sites like Bebo argue that they have no money to distribute — their value is their membership. Well, last week Michael Birch realized the value of his membership. I’m sure he’ll be rewarding those technicians and accountants who helped him achieve this success. Perhaps he should also consider the contribution of his artists.

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington suggests that recorded music has no value and that artists should be happy to be able to take advantage of free hosting. These Crazy Musicians Still Think They Should Get Paid For Recorded Music

Recorded music is nothing but marketing material to drive awareness of an artist. Websites that bring that music to listeners are doing artists a favor. In fact, they’re doing them a favor that they should (and will) be paid for. Young artists and songwriters in particular benefit from these services – Until a few years ago they had almost no way to break into the mainstream without getting a label to promote them. Now those walls are being torn down, and Bragg has the audacity to complain about it. (via pho): These crazy bloggers still think they understand the music business “While Bragg makes some interesting points, I disagree with him. Musicians and labels that upload their music to social networks ostensibly know what they’re doing and understand that there is no agreement for royalties.”
Why shouldn’t songwriters and recording artists ally in order to host music only on social networking sites that agree to pay royalties?