Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
He Can Sing a Stirring Otello But Can Domingo Stop Piracy?
Spanish Tenor Rails Against Music Piracy Among Youth
Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 11:14 PM
Placido Domingo, the peripatetic tenor, conductor and opera house impresario, added another feather to his cap on Tuesday: as the new chairman of IFPI, a British trade group representing the recording industry.
The tenor said he will play a leading role promoting the priorities of the body, which is essentially an international version of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). These include improving copyright legislation and supporting the industry's advocacy efforts around digital music.
Although Domingo may be a figurehead, he has already spoken out about copyright violators. As reported in The Telegraph, Domingo, 70, called for young people who download pirated music to be stopped from using the Internet. "The opera singer said that ‘many young people accept piracy’ and need to be ‘advised’ not to take part in it,” the report stated.
Domingo is a noted darling of the recording industry. He has made over 100 recordings and has won 12 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammys. Last year he accepted the President's Merit Award from the Recording Academy, the organizer of the Grammys. Some estimates put Domingo in the ten best-selling classical artists of all time, with over 30 million records sold.
Headquartered in London, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) lobbies for the interests of the record industry, overseeing anti-piracy enforcement, regulatory affairs and market research.
It is not clear the extent to which Domingo is familiar with the technological intricacies of online distribution. "Perhaps his strongest appeal is diplomacy, and the deep respect that could bridge some fractured factions,” noted a commentary in Digital Music News, which added: “Does Domingo really want to spend his time smashing rogue websites, suing startups, and shilling for major labels?”
Domingo recently stepped down as general director of the Washington National Opera but continues to serve as a conductor and an administrator in his role as general director of the LA Opera.
The Spanish tenor has been a celebrity spokesperson for assorted causes. In May, he was invited by FIFA president Sepp Blatter to help clean up the soccer governing body, which had been accused of taking bribes from countries that wanted to stage the World Cup. He was also among the stars who signed the letter protesting New York City Opera’s move from Lincoln Center last month.
Weigh in: What do you think of Domingo's comments on music piracy?