Over the past year, Jim Griffin has been working on a collective licensing plan that would allow college students across the country to download an unlimited amount of music, in exchange for a small fee built into the cost of their tuition. The initiative, known as Choruss, is currently being funded by Warner Music Group and has also gained support from Sony, EMI, and Universal, as well as, the National Music Publishers Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Choruss is expected to begin its pilot phase this coming fall, and there are currently five schools said to be on board.
In a nutshell, students would log-on to their campus’ network, using software similar to that of Kazaa or Limewire, and be allowed to trade music with their peers or download directly from a central server. The fees collected by Choruss would then be distributed to artists, songwriters, record labels and music publishers. If successful, Choruss would likely look to extend its program to Internet Service Providers.
Choruss represents an enormous step forward for the music industry, as it has previously resisted collective licensing online since the early days of Napster. Griffin has repeatedly called the plan an “experiment,” and continues to reassure interested parties that Choruss does not seek a “one size fits all” approach. Once established, Choruss will roll out as an independent non-profit organization similar to the likes of ASCAP and BMI.
Jim recently spoke on a panel entitled “Marketing and Distribution in a Digital World” at the National MEIEA Conference, which was held at CONTACT _Con-39FED1481 \c \s \l Berklee College of Music on March 28th and 29th. Though he did not directly reference Choruss, elements of the plan surfaced regularly throughout his remarks, and much of the audience was fully aware of his proposal. Following the panel, Jim was greeted by a mob of excited music business students from across the country interested in working with Choruss at their respective schools.
By Kyle Shoemaker