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What is being shared on Napster and company?
June 10, 2001 5:33 PM   Subscribe

What is being shared on Napster and company? Let's just say p2p isn't helping to promote your garage band like some would claim.
posted by bonzo (13 comments total)

 
I don't think this will surprise anyone. Since Napster automatically shares downloaded files, popular files propagate nearly exponentially. Add that to the star-maker system, and you've got a big ol' mess.
posted by skyline at 6:08 PM on June 10, 2001


I think the most interesting part though is that the results are pretty much exactly like one expects. Napster-ish systems are just large scale piracy, atleast according current laws. No room for "it helps promote this" or similar arguments.
posted by bonzo at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2001


Of course well-known bands are traded more often than unknown bands. I don't think that comes as a surprise to anybody. File-sharing systems like Napster are primarily used for trading music by famous bands. But that doesn't mean that they aren't being used to trade music by garage bands. It's just that small-time bands are traded much less frequently than the current top ten pop songs. But even that small amount of trading can be very beneficial to a garage band. Saying that p2p doesn't benefit small bands because its mainly used for big ones is like saying a highway doesn't benefit motorcyclists because its mainly used by cars.
posted by antispork at 6:19 PM on June 10, 2001


I think this guy forgot to take into account that for every platinum artist, there are thousands of indie bands. Just because no single indie artist is being traded in large numbers, it is still possible indie music makes up a large percentage of trades collectively. What he should of done was look at random directories and figured out what percentage of mp3s are from indie artists.
posted by swipe66 at 6:29 PM on June 10, 2001


And of the indie bands that are found on Napster, how many gave their permission to have their songs passed around in this fashion?
posted by kindall at 6:55 PM on June 10, 2001


Well, duh.

But, as others pointed out, the drop off in web-minutes after MSN, AOL and Yahoo is pretty steep, because they hog the media space. So it is with Britney fucking Spears.
posted by holgate at 9:20 PM on June 10, 2001


Kindall: probably not many, but I would venture a guess that they'd elated to find that someone thought their material was worthy of trading on Napster.

The problem I have with Napster is not with file-sharing/P2P or what have you. Rather, it's the fact that Napster (the company) received 15 million dollars last year to develop their file-sharing technology while giving nothing back to the artists -- superstar, indie or otherwise. (although I'm pretty sure that money is gone by now.) It's bad enough that artists are basically indentured servants to their record companies in the first place.

Again, I have no problem with the technology, but basically I see Napster as no better than the record labels. "Hey, (artist name here), thanks for making us rich. What? You want paid for your work?"

If music, like information, really should be free, then why should anyone make a profit?
posted by scottandrew at 10:37 PM on June 10, 2001


It's the same problem with mp3.com's my.mp3.com service; they provided free access to any recording, given that you could prove that you owned the CD. Seems like a pretty legal system, and the security was decent enough, but few supporters seemed to notice that mp3.com would be getting loads of ad revenue using the artists' work. Worst part: CEO Michael Robertson's corny posts calling for users to protect their listening rights (and boost his income).

I put my own work on Napster last year, and blew my bandwidth quota overnight. It didn't make me famous, but I can't imagine a better way for indies to get their stuff out there.
posted by skyline at 10:53 PM on June 10, 2001


Loads of ad revenue? I would be impressed if the advertising revenue covered half the bandwidth and hosting costs of my.mp3.com
posted by aki at 1:45 AM on June 11, 2001


The real question to me is not whether or not a small town band from Podunk is being shared as much as Titney Spears, but if they are being shared at all.

Instead of comparing the really big artists to the really small, maybe it would be a good idea to just track 10 indepentant artists and see how many people have heard their music before Napster and after Napster.
posted by FPN at 4:33 AM on June 11, 2001


I think the most interesting part though is that the results are pretty much exactly like one expects. Napster-ish systems are just large scale piracy, atleast according current laws. No room for "it helps promote this" or similar arguments.

Since the bands most traded are the ones at the top of the charts, how can you rule out the possibility that they sold more CDs because of file sharing? The recording industry had a banner year in 2000 when 20 million people were swapping files.
posted by rcade at 7:36 AM on June 11, 2001


The recording industry had a banner year in 2000 when 20 million people were swapping files.

Exactly. Loss of revenue is only a smokescreen. Several million college kids swapping low-quality files isn't going to put a dent in the vast amounts of cash the labels rake in. No, underneath it all, the recording industry is more concerned about control. When no alternatives exist, the labels are free to charge $16-18 for a CD that cost them less than a dollar to manufacture, and from the sale of which they will eventually recoup all their costs before the artist sees a penny.

And in the meantime, they can continue to produce ex-Mouseketeer R&B lite crap with their ridiculous star-making machinery, inking cross-promotional deals with Pepsi, lest your 11-year-old daughter miss out on the latest craze.

Beatlemania revisited, without all that useless talent.
posted by scottandrew at 12:12 PM on June 11, 2001


Disregarding the legality of music file swapping (as I was inclined to do), one of the greatest ways for finding new music was to search for a song, find a fellow with a high speed connection, and peruse his shared folder. The idea, I guess, is somewhat analogous to the reviews/comments you find on Amazon. In this manner, you could stumble upon indie groups or other lesser known musicians, as I did many times, and begin to appreciate and learn about music that you might never have. As sad as it sounds, it is because of Napster that, to a degree, my taste in music changed and became much more broad. I think it is somewhat of a shame that this avenue has been cut off.
posted by crustbuster at 12:44 PM on June 11, 2001


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