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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Could it be?

This weekend Malta will choose its entry for the 50th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. I know that this introductory sentence has caused some of my readers to stop reading instantly, but I have already made my position quite clear on this matter in an earlier post.

Anyway, there are various things I think about every year when we come to select a representative for the longest-running annual music show on TV. This year my pre-show thoughts are overwhelmed by the absence of audio clips from the songs on

Over the past few years has given Internet users the opportunity to listen to the finalists in the Malta Song for Europe. Since the event is partly funded by taxpayers we feel it is their right to have access to the songs online.

MaltaMedia's editor-in-chief made an official request via email to the Maltasong Board Secretary a couple of weeks ago. Although the songs were made available for radio over the past two weeks, we have still not received a CD to enable us to make clips available as web streams on Our editor-in-chief has followed up on the original request, which was quite politely received, but so far our request has not been granted by Maltasong, even though the secretary has emailed us a couple of times about other matters. We've even published press releases from Maltasong, such as the one on tickets for sale for the final coming up this weekend.

Why have the song clips not been made available to this year?

The Maltasong board certainly understands the potential marketing tool they have at their disposal via Then again, the Maltasong official website leaves a lot to be desired, and perhaps is a clear indication of the real value Maltasong sees in the Internet as a prime marketing tool for the event they've been entrusted with by so many hopeful singers and songwriters.

Malta Song for Europe 2005When we approached one of the local radio stations to enquire about their source for this year's songs, we were told that there's resistance towards having the songs played before the festival. I can understand this. Many years ago, when I was a member of the organizing committee for the Malta Song Contest (a predecessor to the Malta Song for Europe) we restricted radio exposure (on the one and only radio station available at that time) to ensure that none of the songs received preferential treatment before the contest. Yet I somehow doubt that this is the true reason the songs are being held back this year. Someone please tell me I'm wrong.

Surely people entrusted by the Malta government to handle such a high-profile music event know about digital rights management (not to mention the difference between file downloads and audio streams) and that making song clips available to the foremost Eurovision fan site from Malta a win-win proposition.

Are the songs being held back from the Internet in an attempt to preserve CD sales? What could be more important than marketing the 22 songs, singers and songwriters in any way possible to the people televoting for them this weekend?

Does the fact that the chairperson of the Maltasong board is also an owner of the main recorded music retail company in the Maltese Islands pose any conflict of interest?

Blogger Toni Sant said...

On Friday morning, MaltaMedia acquired the CD with all 22 songs taking part in tonight's Song for Europe contest, during an official press conference given by the Maltasong board.

We're now processing the CD to make the music available as an on-demand web stream via

What a storm in a tea cup! 

1:01 PM, February 18, 2005
Blogger Noel Zarb said...

You can at least ensure that the quality of the clips on are at least clear and not distorted 

4:09 PM, February 22, 2005
Blogger Toni Sant said...

Hi Noel, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. The quality of the clips is what it is for three reasons (a) we received the music less than 24 hours before the actual night of the show, (b) we cannot afford the free bandwidth required to stream good quality audio, and (c) we don't want to detract from the sale of the official CD. There are solutions to each of these issues, of course. Here's my reponse to each of the possible solutions (a) I can't be bothered to re-encode the tracks because I've had enough of Maltese pop for now, (b) we could do with a few more sponsors/advertisers to enable us to pay our hosting bills, and (c) I think the storm in a tea cup I made earlier would take on a stronger dimension if people could acquire the music online for free.

Incidentally, you're very welcome. 

4:17 PM, February 22, 2005

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