The Magnatune revolution

Fascinating openDemocracy article by John Buckman about Magnatune.

Four years ago, inspired by the open-source movement, I launched Magnatune – an internet-based record label based on a model I called “open music”. At the time, the major-label music industry was on a self-destructive rampage, destroying companies that attempted new business models and trying to create an all-pervasive “permission society”. Their customers hated them, and “piracy”, far from being seen as anti-social behaviour, was viewed as a strike against injustice: copying music illegally as facilitating the demise of a malevolent system.

Against this backdrop, I use the slogan “we are not evil” for Magnatune, to encompass everything I wanted the music business to be. This is stronger than Google’s “don’t be evil”, which is a recommendation, a goal, but not a rule. “We are not evil” means that we won’t ever do anything evil, but it also insinuates that someone else in the music industry is evil. It also means – and with interesting results – that Magnatune can’t get involved in certain parts of the music business (for example, physical CD distribution) because those areas demand its participants to be evil or they don’t have a chance of surviving…

Read on. It’s a good story of an ingenious idea which is already enjoying modest success.

John Buckman is the founder/owner of the record label Magnatune, and organiser of the peer-to-peer book exchange BookMooch (which is also very ingenious). He is a member of the board of directors at Creative Commons and the advisory board of the Open Rights Group