PNG Business on CHM and digital distribution

PNG Business has an interesting, but perhaps conservative, article about Chin H Meen's movement into iTunes and the world of copyright here.

The Masalai Blog also has a copy.

I made a comment on the Masalai site, pointing out that the biggest market for Melanesian music is in Melanesia, and that in PNG informal digital networks and forms of distribution (hard drives, phones, flashdrives) are probably more predominant forms of sharing than over the Net. That is a real challenge for people trying to control what they call "disruptive" technology in the article. The technology is only disruptive if you have an old business model like distributing music via physical media... If phones become more common devices on which people listen to music, then there is an obvious form of distribution to pursue. I was reading the other day that 37% of PNG's population is under 15 (compared to 19% in Australia) so looking at how younger people in Melanesia listen, create and share music will be critical in understanding how best to distribute music in the near future (when today's 15 year olds are 25, say). A good deal of music production in PNG and the Solomons (the places I am most familiar with) is already independent. CHM is distributing the music from a much more diverse and independent set of sources than it was even five years ago so it could be argued that the studio part of the business is less important now. What happens if people find a way of digital distribution that bypasses a gatekeeper/label like CHM? At the moment the advantage of going through CHM is having access to the infrastructure for royalties and marketing. Any musician can join APRA, however, so there is no reason why bands who get their marketing act together shouldn't bypass CHM completely. There are opportunities there for sure.

This has to be tempered by the uncomfortable (for musicians and CHM at least) thought that revenue from recorded music is likely to continue to drop. Royalties from broadcasts and sales from live performances might well be more lucrative forms of income in the future. I'll have more to post as I start to summarise work from recent research examining recording industries in Melanesia so watch this space.