Direct Assessment of a Method for Digital Music Distribution Supporting Revenue Generation and Sharing

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Computing


We propose a project to carry out a trial, live on the Web, of a novel method for pricing and distributing digital music. This method has been developed by the Imperial College Internet Centre and was implemented and tested in a recent Digital Economy Feasibility Study. This trial will address the critical issue of whether this method will be adopted and used, for real, by music communities on the Web. If proven successful this method would offer a radical and far-reaching solution to the problem of illegal file sharing, currently so prevalent on the Internet.The method combines an innovative pricing model developed by Drs Rayna and Striukova, which allows users to download any music they want but only pay for what they enjoy (assessed by their listening patterns), with a novel peer-to-peer music discovery and dissemination process that allows revenue generated to be shared between the originating artist and the community. It is hoped that these incentives will be sufficient to persuade users to pay for content and avoid the need to attempt to curb illegal filesharing with draconian legal measures.The trial will be conducted in collaboration with artists and groups and music softare companies. The trial will comprise two stages; the first a live but contained trial involving Imperial College students the second a live open trial on the Web.The trial will also feature exploring the use of advanced machine learning software to enable artists better understand their communities' behaviour and the distribution of other music material including impromptu live concerts.If these trials are successful they would not only provide a means of solving the problem of Digital Piracy but also open the way for a thriving Internet music community and other Internet businesses..

Planned Impact

We feel that the impact of the work, if successful, could be considerable. It would solve a current unresolved problem on the Internet, the prevalence of illegal music filesharing, particularly between the young. If left unresolved this problem could seriously affect the future growth and utilisation of the Internet and, of course, deny musicians revenue for their work. Thus, if successful, the method would have global economic and social impact. It would remove the need for people to believe they have to indulge in illegal filesharing and prove a means for the Internet to move forward with an agreed legal and acceptable model for music distribution, laying the basis for future unified and participatory developments. The successful conclusion to this work would also provide a means for musicians to distribute their work and receive appropriate remuneration. Furthermore, supporting as it does, the direct artistic social and commercial interaction between an artist and his or her fan base, the method would open up new ways for musicians to understand and interact with their communities, providing manifold opportunities for innovation in the music and music software industries. The method would also enable other modes of music material, for example impromptu live concerts to be streamed over peer-to-peer networks and monetised in accordance with the method. This would further blur the distinction between recorded audio (mp3) music material, live videos and broadcast video, and open the way for the development of a unified Internet architecture, seamlessly encompassing multiple modes of interaction. Finally, by demonstrating that, given a fair basis, users are prepared to pay directly for content, this method could have economic impact in helping develop new business models for the Internet, particularly peer-to-peer and participatory ones.


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Description The project demonstrated, or confirmed, that music is a cultural activity with musicians and their fans engaging in a wide variety of social or community activities. It was concluded that a market for digital music could be best established by developing mechanisms to allow these interactions as freely and naturally as possible and then leave artists to see what types of activity would best provide remuneration in this milieu. A social music environment was constructed to support these communities and interactions
Exploitation Route The project was aimed at a non-academic context - public digital music distribution and sharing, The project developed an on-going relationship with an established musician, Steve Lawson, who demonstrated that these ideas would work in a modern Internet environment.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Retail

Description The project developed an on-going relationship with an established musician, Steve Lawson, who demonstrated that these ideas would work in a modern Internet environment.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Cultural,Economic