(I normally track and save my comments at other blogs using cocomment. But cocomment did not seem to have worked this time and I am copying my comments here. This is my comment to Michael Arrington's post about music label's new business model, which had a scary title originally.)
I take a minority opinion. Let the creators (artists and their helpers) decide whether to release their music as paid or free. It is always better to have choices and currently what is lacking is the ‘paid’ choice.
One thing I found very interesting at the end of the portfolio.com article: “Apple is reportedly negotiating with the major record labels to offer consumers free access to the entire iTunes library in exchange for paying a premium for Apple hardware.”
If Apple pays labels (that is, ultimately to musicians) based on downloads, that is close to my idea of alternative free model, even though I did not expect the hardware manufactures to increase the hardware price.
We should understand that whether you are charged by Apple or the label is economically not very different. All of them need to make money to exist. There is no particular reason why you should prefer paying $110 to apple and zero to labels than paying $100 to apple and $10 to labels. If you don’t think labels worth existing, that’s a different topic. But as long as they add value, they should get paid, too. Personally, I think many musicians will look for help of others who will take care of non-music works so that they can focus on creating and performing music. I don’t know whether the they will look like current labels or different (smaller?), but they will be there. It is called division of labor, which I also wrote about most recently.
By the way, I don’t like the term ‘tax’. Someone made a mistake by calling it tax rather than paid subscription. That sounds terrible.