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A Lone Voice??

Posted by Boghound on August 12, 2011


EMI’s Ex-boss Said File-Sharing Was Good

Ex-president of EMI Douglas Merrill attracted attention by saying that sharing music files is actually not a bad thing. Of course, this point of view has been voiced before, but not by the person who had been CEO of New Music and president of Digital Business at EMI Music. Besides, Merrill also used to work for Google, where he was chief information officer and vice president of engineering. Currently he is CEO of ZestCast, which means that he isn’t an easily dismissed firebrand claiming that data wants to be free.

Speaking at CA Expo in Australia, Douglas Merrill explained that he felt the entertainment industry was “collapsing” when he joined EMI back in 2008. Meanwhile, he admitted there was information indicating that file-sharing might actually be good for musicians, or at least not bad for them. And so Merrill suggests that maybe the industry shouldn’t be stopping it all the time. Apparently, there’s piracy that is really destructive, but in most cases file-sharing might be good.

Considering such sentiments, it’s not surprising that Douglas Merrill left EMI two years ago, less than a year after taking on the job. He compared pursuing consumers for file-sharing with attempts to sell soap by throwing dirt on the customers. He also pointed out that file-sharing is not actual theft, but rather try-before-you-buy marketing, which you don’t even have to pay for.

Douglas Merrill apparently had insights of interest to a wider audience of executive. For example, there were suggestions that managers should hire a diverse group of employees in order to get a wide range of inputs, they were also recommended to stay out of the way more often, and be aware of innovation regardless of its source. In order to provide evidence, Merrill cited that 66% of the Fortune 100 companies have disappeared or dropped off that list since 1990. His best example to be named is Eastman Kodak, which has more patents than any other entity throughout the globe, while being the most successful research company. Meanwhile, back in 1990, when some young researcher invented the charge coupled device (which is actually the core of every camera nowadays), his boss called him a moron and said they made film. Besides, Merrill warned against reliance on focus groups, especially if the issue is about disruptive or innovative products outside of their experience.

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