U2 manager: 'Google is the greatest theft enabler on the internet'

Paul McGuinness

U2 manager Paul McGuinness has branded Google "the greatest theft enabler on the internet" during a keynote interview at IMS in Ibiza on May 22.

In conversation with BBC Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong, McGuinness discussed piracy, streaming and the recent reported Apple and Beats deal.

The exec managed U2 for 35 years and was this year awarded Billboard's Industry Icon Awards at Midem. He retired from the position late last year to “take a less hands-on role as the band embark on the next cycle of their extraordinary career". Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary has since taken his place.

Discussing piracy, McGuinness suggested Google isn't dealing with illegal links because "they don't want to".

"There are some vested interests that could help a lot more than they are doing," he explained. "Google is the greatest theft enabler on the internet, when I Google YouTube music there are multiple opportunities to steal it.

"I don't think the industry takes [Google's] promises to take things down when they get a notice sincerely. They take it down but the bots replace them immediately. I don’t thinks it's beyond the ingenuity of those clever people at Google to deal with that, but I don’t think they don't want to."

According to the search giant, piracy is primarily a problem of the availability and price of content. The comments were made in a letter to Australia’s Minister for Communication which cited emerging “significant and credible evidence”.

DMCA takedown notices received by Google has reportedly increased by 711,887% in four years.

McGuinness has worked closely with Apple in the past when U2 soundtracked an iPod advertising campaign in 2005. Earlier this month, reports surfaced that Apple is said to be close to closing a deal to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2bn.

The deal marks Apple's move into the streaming world, according to McGuinness. "I don't think Apple were buying Beats for the headphones, they were certainly buying Beats for the streaming service," he said. "That will be the future of Apple - music distribution."

However, the exec said established artists should hold-off from giving new releases to streaming platforms straight away, in order to encourage record sales. "The sums of money that [goes back] to the artist from Spotify is so trivial that it's hard to see why you should give a new record to Spotify immediately," he said.

"[Streaming services] should be more of a promotional medium. There's no reason not to for new acts, but for established acts that are going to sell a number of records, I think Spotify should be a later window in an album release schedule."


Tags: IMS, Paul McGuinness, IMS 2014

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