Of course the issue here is not really preventing people from sharing music illegally or otherwise. It is all about protecting profit. The profit of the music labels, that is! And not, as the BPI claim, “ensuring that creators are fairly rewarded in the digital age”.
Why else have there been recent moves by various artists including Radiohead, R.E.M. and Nine Inch Nails? It is clear that artists are willing to seek ways of delivering their creations that are reducing the involvement of music labels (or excluding them altogether). This is placing a further squeeze on the revenue streams of the labels so increasingly they’re trying to sting us listeners for as much as they can get. Which is very foolish really because the more they hack us off the more likely we are to look for other ways of getting our music fix.
Obviously illegal sharing and downloading of music is very naughty and shouldn’t be indulged in, especially with so many legitimate sources of paid for music available, including subscription services such as Napster (which looks well worth checking out the more I think about it). There are also a few advertising sponsored free services such as the excellent we7 out there too. There are also live trading groups which make it possible to share free, artist approved live recordings – though if you trade you should also support the artist by buying their product or going to their gigs.
Another interesting model has been used by Marillion who ask their fans to pay for albums in advance as a means of funding the recording process – the fans are then credited (and pictured) on the album sleeve when it is released. And finally, there are a great many independent artists who are now using the digital marketplace to sell their recordings direct to the consumer with no label involvement at all!
I suspect that last scenario is the future, with artist revenues being boosted by their takings from live performances, and it’s a future that the likes of the BPI don’t want to see. After all, it’s a future from which they are excluded.