This year, the tenth anniversary of the Meeting of Italian Independent Labels (MEI) was hosted in Faenza (a little-known city about half an hour south east of Bologna). BeatPick was there to represent and promote our unique brand of music distribution, and to discover how far the Italian debate has gotten on the subject of IP rights in a digital age.
Both objectives were accomplished: in the first case with a stand that contained all the important information necessary, for artists and producers alike, to understand who we are and what we stand for; and in the second with a presentation we gave at a conference on new forms of distribution in a digital age.
It was very interresting to assess to what degree Italians within the (independent) music industry were informed on the subject of creative commons and intellectual property with regards to Web 2.0. Many people had no idea what it was (which has so far been the case in the UK too), some people knew what it was but found it confusing, some people regarded it with suspicion and one group of people we met had instead gone as far as setting up the first creative commons based radio in Italy (a Sienese radio called Radio Papesse which is part of the Palazzo delle Papesse museum).
The conference in which we gave our presentation showed us, instead, that at higher levels many of the debates on music and IP rights are still very polarized according to antiquated left vs. right stereotypes, and that the people on top are still having problems distinguishing between what they believe reality should be like (where copyright and royalty collecting societies rule all, and there is little room for maonoeuvre for those who are not affiliated to the Majors) and what reality is actually like (Web 2.0, p2p, Open Source, creative commons etc.). Our presentation struck an almost odd cord within this context: we were the only people who were not projecting austere scenarios of doom and gloom but instead had a pretty positive outlook on what we predict could be the future of the music industry.
All in all this excursion into the physical world of music and distribution (as opposed to our usual efforts to maintain visibility within the internet realm) can be seen as a success. We achieved the objectives we’d set ourselves and returned home with dufflebags full of CDs from aspiring artists all eagerly awating a chance to join the BeatPick project (it’s gonna take a long take to listen to them all… will keep you posted if anything really remarkable jumps out). Will be looking at attending other events of this kind in other cities Europe-wide (and worldwide if anyone cares to pay for our tickets!) so if anyone knows of anything of this type let us know and we’ll see if we can make our way there…