It’s your website.
You should know – you registered the domain with little or no strings attached. But what if that registration was subject to approvals and conditions, as determined by a clique of music industry organizations? And what if you had to be a member of one of those organizations to even be considered for approval? According to registration documents recently shared with Digital Music News, that’s exactly the idea being pursued by the RIAA, Recording Academy, ASCAP, SoundExchange and 38 other trade groups in their quest for the .music domain extension.
That is, if they’re approved to play .music God. The name of the group is Far Further, one of eight organizations battling to lord over this new domain name extension. And in its application for .music citizenship, the group outlines a plan to make sure applicants are part of the exclusive club.
“Domain registrations may be accepted, but will not resolve until the registrant has been identified and validated as a member of the music community via their membership in at least one existing association related to the creation and support of music.”
But wait – it gets worse. Because if you get approved, then have a falling out with your trade organization, you could easily lose your domain. And what if you switch to a trade organization not on the approved list?
“Should the registrant fail to meet the eligibility criteria, they risk the suspension and ultimately deletion or loss of their domain name. Verification of continued membership is required for renewal, to ensure ongoing eligibility.”
Which raises all sorts of potentially bad scenarios, all of which are largely uncommon in the .com space. For example, what if a company gets kicked out of a group based on a legal disagreement – one that would normally be resolved by the courts? In that scenario, the group risks losing its domain name, which could translate into the company then losing its business overnight. It’s a massive risk.
The potential abuses quickly degenerate into a laundry list. We vehemently disagree with the ruthless tactics employed by Grooveshark, and this is a company hated by the major labels. Luckily, none of us have control over their domain name registration. Which means, something like grooveshark.music would probably never get approved or simply get yanked – even if a court determines them to be legal.
And what about the next crop of superstars? You can spot a Willow Smith a mile away, but the rest start on the fringes (and that goes for startups, too). They have no idea what an ASCAP is and frankly don’t care early on in their careers. So, do those artists need to belong to an approved group to register their own name and collect fans, then hope to be discovered by the machine?
The question is whether this old boys club summarily puts .music into the loser category. After all, edgier technologies, music publications, and emerging artists outside this group will simply skip the pomp-and-circumstance, and stick with .com or something else.
Which means this sort of ultra-exclusivity could mean death in incubation. At this stage, it’s completely unclear whether the world moves beyond .com, .org, and a sprinkling of extra extensions like .fm and .tv. Extensions like .info never took off, and this sort of behavior could create a similar fate for .music.
A list of the 42 participating organizations in Far Further can be found at farfurther.com.