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Former music industry boss wants £1 albums

A former recording industry boss has finally started making sense now that he's not being paid to toe the company line by Big Music.

Rob Dickins, who once ran Warner music in the UK and is a former chairman of the BPI, has severely restricted the number of recording industry Christmas card lists he is on by telling a Manchester music conference that downloaded albums should cost no more than a quid.

His former colleagues might be spitting their lunchtime schooner of Henri IV Dudognon Heritage, but the rest of the music-buying world will be cheering on the forward-thinking ex-exec.

Dickins has broken out of the archaic mind-set of his former colleagues and reckons that the way forward for music lies on the download model pioneered by Apple's iTunes.

Whereas eight million people brought the biggest-selling long player of last year (we're appalled to discover it was Susan Boyle's talent show-fuelled karaoke nightmare), Dickins reckons offerings from popular artists could clock up upwards of 200 million downloads if the price was right.

He has a point. The Internet it democratising the world and even the relatively poor can get Internet access. Mobile phones are everywhere and MP3 players are so close to being given away in cereal boxes that it doesn't bear thinking about.

There are billions of people who would never even consider spending £10 on a U2 album, but price it at £1 and watch the sales figures go through the roof.

To most in the western world ten pounds is a considered purchase. One pound is split second decision. If you like the band, or even know enough people who reckon you'll like it, you'll buy it.

Selling music at a negligible price to the consumer will also put an end to a great deal of casual piracy. If the choice is between coughing up a quid or getting a letter from some bottom-feeding scumbag of a lawyer threatening to take us to court, we know which route we'll be taking.

Of course the pathetic dinosaurs currently running the music industry into the ground with their outdated models and unrealistic expectations will stamp and bellow and make up astronomical figures which prove that selling music at a fair price makes Baby Jesus cry, but the world is moving on.

Music has escaped from the clutches of the profiteers and charlatans. It's time to put the cash back where it should be... in the pockets of the artists, composers and performers who create the art in the first place.

Resistance is inevitable according to the bleatings of some music industry hangers on, but the truth of the matter is that resistance is futile.

Music has found a new home and a new audience on the Internet. A tech-savvy audience which demands instant gratification will follow the path of least resistance, and the biggest cause of friction holding back music sales is the artificially high cost of downloads.

Selling albums for a pound will be a huge gamble for the recording industry, but it could be the final roll of the dice.