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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Music chiefs consider 'life after Napster'
Music 33
Music 33: Tony Wilson's site sells songs for 33p each
The future of music on the internet is through user-friendly fee-charging services, an interactive music conference has been told.

Napster is "fatally wounded" and a lasting replacement will be established within five years, according to Tony Wilson, ex-Factory Records boss and organiser of the Interactive City conference.

He said the general feeling at the conference, which ended in Cardiff, Wales, on Monday, was one of optimism that the dotcom "madness" has finished - and that the industry has a healthy long-term outlook.


Digital content cannot be free - that element is very much accepted by everybody

Tony Wilson
"One of the things this event says is: 'If you think it's over then you're wrong because it is changing everything.'"

Delegates from the music industry and other new media sectors gathered in Cardiff for the two-day event, which was billed as a forum about "life after Napster and the dotcom meltdown".

Mr Wilson, who is better-known for giving the Sex Pistols their TV debut and running Manchester's Hašienda nightclub, told BBC News Online that the dotcom gloom should not put people off planning ahead.

Breakthrough

"There is a feeling in the music business that despite all the trouble that Napster causes, we need to keep working on it," he said.

"Even though it [a breakthrough] isn't happening at the moment, at some point in 2002, 2003 or 2004, it will all happen."

Whatever the outcome, fans will end up paying for any music they download, he said.


At some point in the future, people will get their music digitally, if they want it that wa

Tony Wilson
"Digital content cannot be free - that element is very much accepted by everybody.

"The idea that music should be free just because it's digital would mean that television would be free next year and movies free the year after.

"At some point in the future, people will get their music digitally, if they want it that way - but they'll have to pay for it."

He added that it might cost less than a CD, though, because there would be no manufacturing or retailing costs.

And although the five major record labels will dominate interactive music services, independent music will also be well represented, he says.

Gavin Robertson, head of new technology for the Association for Independent Music (AIM), was described by Mr Wilson as "the cleverest mind in the industry" and Aim as the "sixth major".

'Well served'

"If the cleverest man in technology is actually working for the sixth major, then that's a good sign," he said.

"It means that the independent sector of the UK industry is being very, very well served."

Delegates also heard a keynote speech from Andrew Davies, e-Minister for Wales.

Mr Wilson currently runs online music retailer Music33, which sells tracks for 33p each.

Many of the major labels have already announced their intent to set up similar paid-for schemes.

Bertelsmann owns Myplay.com and online retailer CDNow, has an alliance with Napster and is a partner in subscription-based music service MusicNet with AOL TimeWarner, EMI and RealNetworks.

Vivendi is to buy MP3.com and has agreed to start another subscription service, Duet, with Sony.

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The BBC's Simon Mayo
talks to Tony Wilson and Stuart Maconie

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See also:

30 May 01 | Business
Bertelsmann buys Myplay
18 May 01 | New Media
Digital music firms' copyright fears
09 May 01 | New Media
Napster fingerprints its songs
30 Apr 01 | Business
Online music bonanza
06 Apr 01 | Reviews
Napster rivals fail to fill vacuum
05 Apr 01 | Business
Yahoo joins online music venture
03 Apr 01 | Business
Music giants form Napster rival
17 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Napster deal puts more music on net
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