The account of the Music 4.5 Conference here ( on Collection Societies reveals just how hostile the climate has become between users, Collection Societies, and their members.

In any negotiation climate-setting is a crucial stage. It determines the atmosphere in which the negotiation takes place, and that atmosphere has a great bearing on the parties’ behaviours and the outcome.

There are normally 4 choices. You can have a warm climate which very open and friendly, a cool climate which is very objective and process driven, a hostile climate which is very confrontational or a wacky climate which is very fun and off the wall. Different climates suit different deals, but as between a Collection Society and its own members one would hope that the climate would be a warm and open one – they are after all on the same side, aren’t they? In fact, depending on the Society, the atmosphere often seems to be mistrustful on both sides, with a climate that veers between cool and hostile. That is why members are sometimes tempted to withdraw rights from Societies and Societies use practices such as NDA’s to ensure that only they have a clear picture of what is going on.

Meanwhile users reap the rewards of this climate schism between Societies and their members, with the result that negotiations mirror the same degree of hostility or coolness. It’s small wonder that so many users in the audience kept quiet when this issue was being discussed at Music 4.5.

An unhelpful climate creates negative thinking on all sides, and means that parties are intent on protecting their own positions rather than (for example) growing the legitimate market to the benefit of all participants in the value chain.

When climate goes wrong, the best thing to do is to try and re-set the climate appropriately. This is a process that can take some time, but the benefits to all parties involved in a negotiation are immense. Maybe that’s where the focus of the next Music 4.5 conference should be.