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The site’s objective is to figure out a viable “direct artist-to-fan model” with the assumption that P2P can’t be stopped technologically, and that file-sharers are indeed willing to pay artists for their work.A few weeks ago I mentioned how Jon Newton over at P2PNet began a discussion with Billy Bragg, English alternative rock musician and member of the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), over how best to create a stable digital music business model for the 21st century.Together they came up with a2f2a, artists-to-fans-to-artists, a site which is intended to create a community where artists and music fans are able to discuss how they can “cut out the middleman” and ensure that artists are fairly compensate for their work.The site’s mission statement:Help each community better understand the other;Help find a practical and workable system which offers artists fair remuneration in exchange for access to material by fans; andHelp set the agenda for discussions about the role P2P can play within the emergent digital record industry.“For almost 10 years the corporate music industry has been painting a picture of people who share music online as criminals and thieves — hard-core recidivists with no desire to recompense creators,” says Newton in a post. “But this is about as realistic as Big Music claims that they care about, and deal honestly with, performers. Don’t make any mistake. Music lovers want to pay for the music they love.”Exactly. Radiohead proved long ago that people are willing to pay artists for their music not record labels unless absolutely necessary. File-sharers are more than willing to pay artists for their work there’s just no mechanism to do so other than via indirect album support through concert ticket purchases, t-shirts, etc..“For artists, the idea of a direct artist-to-fan model, in which we make our music available ourselves and reap the economic benefits, has never been closer,” writes Bragg. “Yet, so far, the potential has only been hinted at. Our objective at this forum is to explore with music fans how viable a2f models might work and to introduce those ideas into the ongoing debate about the new digital music industry.”Bragg encourages artists to take part, yet to be “prepared for a hostile reaction.” He also warns them not to call P2P users “thieves” and risk poisoning the debate between the two sides.“My participation in this initiative is based on my understanding of two principles that are central to the beliefs of the p2p community,” he adds. “Firstly, that there is no technological solution to the problems that artists face as a result of the digitisation of music and, secondly, that p2p users are willing to pay for music if they can be sure that the money is going to the artists whose work they enjoy.”It all reminds me of what Trent Reznor, NIN frontman, said a few months back. He observed that “old record labels are dead,” and that the “new thing hasn’t really come out yet.” Reznor hopes that whatever it turns out to be gives artists more control over their music as well as a greater share of the profits.In the end, artists are the ones creating what fans love and so it’s only appropriate they, and not labels, are the ones who reap the rewards. File-sharers all agree on that, now it’s only a matter of how to go about it.