Another music artist that doesn't get it: Dr. Dre.
April 19, 2000 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Another music artist that doesn't get it: Dr. Dre. I knew the Metallica thing could start a rash of followers, hopefully this isn't a trend. Why is it so difficult for artists to see that fans trading their music is a good thing? (including better sales of discs thanks to the people hearing the mp3's and better concert sales from fans buying tickets to see them live)
posted by mathowie (49 comments total)
The more articles I read about this, the more frustrated I get. Artists don't make their serious money on album sales anyway, they make it on concert revenue, and products like Napster only help to introduce them to new listeners, and hopefully boost ticket sales.

Napster is nothing more than the new mix tape.

posted by sperare at 1:33 PM on April 19, 2000

usounds had a nice little quip on the dr. dre development today... the funny thing is that Dre's lawyer wants Napster to "remove Dre's files from their site." Talk about not doing even a little bit of research on what Napster is...
posted by chaz at 1:38 PM on April 19, 2000

Artists don't make their serious money on album sales anyway, they make it on concert revenue
I've heard this argument a lot...I'd like to believe it's true, I suspect it's not. Anybody have a definitive answer for me?
posted by lbergstr at 1:38 PM on April 19, 2000

It's true. The artists get about $1 per album sold, if even that much. Mind you, that's a considerable chunk of change if you go platinum, but for the most part, the $15 you spend on a cd goes towards the recording company. The big money is in the concerts, and a bit somewhat from radio play royalties.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 1:43 PM on April 19, 2000

I'm sure that the record companies, um... 'explained' the problems with Napster to many of the musicians who are publicly complaining. It's hardly surprising that Metallica and Dre have 'problems' with it, but Chuck D doesn't.
posted by EngineBeak at 1:52 PM on April 19, 2000

Having worked in a record store up here in Canada, I have a tiny bit of knowledge as to where some of your money goes when you buy a CD.

If an item is "on sale", the store probably picked it up for about twelve bucks. If it's just a regular bin item, it's probably more like $13 or $14.

So yeah, (major label) record companies come away with at least twelve bucks from every CD they sell. Where does that money go? I don't know. The reps from record companies could never really give us a good explanation of where all the money goes, but I suspect that the $1 per album to the artist figure that is given above is probably about right, once you factor in manufacturing, raw materials, shipping, advertising, people and all the other crap that goes on at Sony, BMG, MCA, Warner and EMI.

(We didn't handle tapes or records or anything, so this applies only to the compact disc. And as I mentioned, I'm in Canada. American/European/other pricing schemes may vary.)
posted by danwalker at 1:57 PM on April 19, 2000

Stop justifying piracy.
Yes, 95% of your $15 will go to the record industry. Even if it was 99 44/100% it's still theft.
I'm all for artists and record companies to release sanctioned mp3 versions of the song, hell, I'd like to see them release the full album at a low khz for us to sample. But until that day comes, I say stop justifying your bad deeds and pay the man.
posted by perplexed at 1:57 PM on April 19, 2000

You know what's funny? Napster just built a tool that enables the music "piracy." Every agreement you read is legal and says that no user should post copyrighted music, but all of us as users are breaking that law, not Napster. Why isn't Metallica and Dr. Dre going after users instead of Napster? Because they'd never win - and they shouldn't win against Napster either.
posted by mathowie at 2:00 PM on April 19, 2000

Do you have any idea how hard it is for artists to make money on tour? Unless you're absolutely *huge*, you don't. In fact, many artists have to go into the hole with their label for tour support just to stay on the road. How do they recoup that money? Album sales. I keep hearing the argument that artists don't make anything through album sales - it's simply not true. Never mind the fact that the songwriters and producers of those songs aren't getting squat from those concerts (other than a pittance in performance royalties).

I'm a songwriter as well as a Web developer, so I'm kind of on the fence on this one. I realize that free downloads can drive music sales, but I'm increasingly mystified by the arrogance and poor reasoning of many music fans who seem to think they're owed something here.

Maybe they're not going about it the right way, but if I were Metallica or Dre, I'd be pissed, too. By the way, Chuck D's made his millions and can afford to be progressive about this stuff. Hell, it's the only way he can be relevant anymore.
posted by devdog at 2:04 PM on April 19, 2000

Anyone who has used Napster know's it's the ish... but at the same time I do feel for some of the artists who see their $$$ flying out the window-- sure there are better sales when someone can hear the album first, but what if the whole album is available, what kind of chump would you be to actually go buy it? What solution can there be? Artists get a tiny % of storage sales? Ads download along with your files? Anyone have any ideas?
posted by chaz at 2:05 PM on April 19, 2000

I am a criminal. I admit it.

I have downloaded and enjoyed copyrighted music in the mp3 format.

And you know what? It's because I got ahold of a few Bjork mp3s that I now own her entire catalog on cd. It's because of mp3 that I got turned on to Lamb, Fat Boy Slim, Jamiroquai and countless others - all of which I went out and purchased on cd.

Mp3 = more of my dollars going into cds, not less.

Eventually the record companies will wake up to this and exploit it. They should be working with the geeks to come up with ways to build a "buy this" link into mp3 files and apps. Personally, I'd love that. And so would the artists.

But all this lawsuit stuff just shows how backwards they are. And if they don't wise up soon, they may sue themselves out of a job.
posted by fraying at 2:10 PM on April 19, 2000

Mathowie is absolutely right...Metallica suing Napster is akin to them suing the makers of the blank cassette tapes because people use cassettes to tape music from the radio. Or used to :)

I don't believe Napster hurts the artists...if anyone gets hurt, it seems to be the huge corporations that surround the artists that may lose a little money (and that hasn't been proven, btw that Napster is hurting sales), and i have no great sentimental feeling for them.

posted by sperare at 2:14 PM on April 19, 2000

But it's not the same as a cassette, because if you have an mp3 player, there is no real difference in quality, portability, and ease-of-use from a CD player. The only difference is that you can get the file for free. Napster is TINY right now, imagine in a couple years when lots of people have high-speed access, and there are literally millions and millions of Napster users, and mp3 players (often made by the same companies that are complaining about napster) are well made, cheap, and readily available.

There's no way to stop Napster, it's just a better way to find and get music, period. The question is, how do the people that make the music get their piece?
posted by chaz at 2:19 PM on April 19, 2000

I mentioned before that I wish Napster had a subscription-based model, and that they also partnered with a site like CDnow or Amazon to sell CDs. I'd be fully willing to pay $30 a month for napster access, and I'd also be stoked if there were a "buy now" or at the very least "identify what artist this is and what CD this is from" button on winamp. I've heard more great weird stuff through Napster than I ever heard on radio (even college radio).

The music industry is conservative, they don't see this as an opportunity, and my guess is they'll continue to attack it with the tools they know, lawyers, instead of changing the way they think about and distribute music.

BTW, like Derek, I'm buying more CDs than ever (mostly to listen to in my car, and at work), and I am routinely seeing bands I never heard of before Napster and mp3s.
posted by mathowie at 2:27 PM on April 19, 2000

The musicians I know are making money on their publishing deal, not their record deal...
posted by prolific at 2:27 PM on April 19, 2000

Last I checked, Metallica and Dr. Dre had made their millions as well, but whether an artist has made a certain amount of money on album sales seems irrelevant to me. If an artist is interested in people listening to their music, if they're tired of record companies and radio stations dictating what's popular and what's "good" and what should be listened to, they'd realize that any technology that enables people to share their music would ultimately benefit them, the artist. I agree with Derek: grabbing a tune or two off Napster has sent me scurrying to the record store faster than hearing anything off the radio or seeing some crap on MTV. And when the artists realize the power of the network to introduce new fans, they may realize they're trying to crush the most democratic, exciting technology to hit the music industry in a very long time.
posted by megnut at 2:28 PM on April 19, 2000

Oh yeah, to justify my mp3 downloading... I buy up to a 100 CDs a year. Always have. Mp3 is not going to make me buy much more than that, I think. But it helps me choose. I have given so much to music, I think I'm ok using Napster/Gnutella etc.
posted by prolific at 2:29 PM on April 19, 2000

here we go again. i wont even dive into my personal opinions on the matter becuase it doesnt matter. youre entitled to believe and do whatever you want.

i only have to say that if the record companies were indeed smart there is a simple way to fuck up napster, and it doesnt ryhme with sue them. all they need to do is get a bunch of computer plugged into the "napster network" do a search for the top mp3's and record static or whatever they wanted and match them to the file size and length times of the song. so people will start downloading these "tainted mp3s" and napster will soon enough go the way of usenet with all the crap that is on it.

simple. but they wont think of it.
posted by sikk at 2:29 PM on April 19, 2000

I'd read this article at salon about this topic. Small quote:

"'We can make a new model' -- yeah, right," says the singer. "It's laughable. Those people have no idea how the music business works. Because unless you're Alanis Morissette or Dave Mathews, you're not making money on the road. It's all I can do to break even on tour. And the only reason to tour is to promote the sale of my CD."

As others have said: artists deserve to be compensated. While it's easy to shrug off million-selling artists, there are artists that will get dropped from their labels because they don't have sales of a X amount even if millions are enjoying their stuff through mp3. How is this a good thing?

While it's amusing to see record companies wet their pants, I really don't see napster as bringing in a grand new artistic order. There must be a better way.
posted by icathing at 2:30 PM on April 19, 2000

I take a bit of a different approach- the majority of the mp3's I've got- I wouldn't listen to unless it was free- I wouldn't have gone out and bought the cd, or listened to any other songs other than what the radio plays- after all- the radio never plays a whole album- only the songs from the album that have been released for radio play. And that's all I'd be listening too- if we didn't have Napster and MP3's- not to mention the artists that I never hear on the radio, that I have mp3's for that I really enjoy.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 3:00 PM on April 19, 2000

I'll tell you what I am owed. CDs have been out how long? 15 years or so? Have they dropped in price? Not very much, if at all. And yet, that was the Record companies main argument as to why CDs were so expensive when they came out. The CD itself cost a lot to make. But guess what. Not anymore. CDs are fairly cheap to produce, and yet, CD albums haven't dropped in price in at least the last 6 years or so. That is what I am owed... I will continue to stick it to "the man" because all "the man" is, is a bunch of greedy corporate executives who can never make enough money off the people.
posted by da5id at 3:01 PM on April 19, 2000

Is it a bad thing if the business of music is destroyed? Think about it. Untill about 50 years ago, hardly anyone made any big money being a musician. Was there a lack of music? Heck no! If anything, it kept it real. No one got in it to be rich. They made good music to make good music. I don't know why musicians now feel entitled to make big money for doing what has been done for thousands of years for free. I am all for Napster if for no other reason than it might bring an end to the Backstreet Boys and their kin.
posted by acrylic_argonaut at 3:04 PM on April 19, 2000

Theres a few things about the internet that really make me smile. One is the fact that I can regularly talk to some guy in australia that I've never met and it doesnt seem weird.

The other one is the fact that the internet inspires lots and lots of people to create the most wonderful things for the pure enjoyment of letting other people see it. I know a lot of people use their work as their portfolio and get jobs because of it, but still, there is a lot of great stuff being made that wouldn't have existed if it wasn't for the web.

I think that music could go in that direction. For every major band thats being swindled by piracy, there are dozens of bands just waiting to be heard. Not all of them are fantastic, but there are really great music artists that wouldn't have an appropirate audience if it wasnt for the net. I think as time goes by and as mp3s becomes more and more well known and popular (especially if Mtv keeps mentioning napster), the web will do the same thing for music as it did for visual arts.

thats my two cents.
posted by Teknoguy at 3:05 PM on April 19, 2000

From my stint in the music industry I think I can answer a couple of the questions about where the money goes and how much the artist actually sees. The standard record contract sees the artist getting 12-16% royalty on the cost of a cd less packaging (yes the label charges the artist for the manufacture and packaging) Which works out roughly to about a $1.15 a CD. This is not even counting points a producer, or manger may get to further dwindle the take. In order for the band to see any money they would need to make up the advance (which is basically a loan from the record company)as well as production and promotion costs. Which can be pretty steep for a major label project. So basically only the superstars are the ones making any money of record sales (I.E. the Dr Dre's and Metallica). As for touring, any band who is smart and has some kind of draw can make money on the road. Bands get in trouble by bloating their expenses with tour busses, expensive hotels etc.. etc.. to keep up the rockstar image. 311 for a long time was a good example of a band who had mediocre record sales but made money and a name for themselves on the road. While flavor of the month bands who may have sold 100 times more records than say a indeed label band but lose money on tour living the rockstar life, while the indeed band travels in a van and sleeps on floors out ahead of the game. Also ponder this if you doubt what I say, If touring was not profitable why do all these has been classic rock bands do the festival circuit? It has to pay a bit better than wherever they were working at obviously for them to go out and do it.
My take is no one is going to lose money from napster people will always still buy CD's. Another thing to remember is most of the mp3's traded are of lesser know groups with little radio airplay. If I happen to hear something I never heard of before and I like it I will go see them perform and buy their cd's and T-Shirts. I think that would help launch carriers rather than ruin them. All this is legal posturing by Major Labels afraid of things they can't have a finger on. Anyway little do they realize if I want to bootleg a Metallica song all I need to do is tape it off the hard rock station that plays them 500 times a day.
posted by remo at 3:16 PM on April 19, 2000

The top 1% selling artists get a lot more from album/record/CD sales than the other 99% of artists. They write their own ticket. Once you're an established superstar, you have a great deal of leverage.

That said, I have to think that there is someone at the labels behind these artists, pushing them to sue. Perhaps it's blackmail pictures taken at one of the lavish parties the label has thrown for them?
posted by fooljay at 3:28 PM on April 19, 2000

It's like that hotline thing, napster is just a programm, that can exchange files, the users choose what they want to exchange, for that matter the whole internet is a place to exchange, so let's sue microsoft or netscape for having a browser that lets you download pirated software or songs.
posted by tiaka at 4:14 PM on April 19, 2000

I've written about this a couple of times on my weblog - including today. The thing that really disturbs me is that it seems really clear to me that the artist is going to get (is getting) pinched here - when it's really the labels' lack of vision and business sense that is at the heart of the problem.

Just today on Wired News there was an article about major moves towards dl/able music by the major labels this summer - and just when Dre and Lars are getting their dander up. There's something wrong with that.

The trick is that the record companies have to figure out that they're selling a brand, and developing brands. And on that basis they have to figure out how to make their money - not on selling little plastic disks. They have to figure out how to get right out of the "manufactured product" business and remember that really alll they're selling is information - which lives in the brand, in the music itself, etc.

posted by mikel at 4:31 PM on April 19, 2000

here's my take on why the record companies are so frightened: technologies that make it possible for music to flow easily from consumer to consumer make it just as easy for it to flow from artist to consumer.

once the artists get that, the record industry is rendered obsolete. it's just a big distribution system.

they'll need to reinvent themselves as "trusted sources"; but they don't want to lose a bit of the money they're making, and they're doing everything they can do to fight the incoming tide.

posted by rebeccablood at 5:41 PM on April 19, 2000

Whatever happened to starving artists? ;)
No, but I spend an incredible amount of money on CDs, it costs less than $2 per CD to make, counting production, packaging and distribution.
1. As was said on the Napster board, Metallica used to encourage their fans to bootleg music, as it helped them get a wider user base. They obviously care not about that now, as they are %50 of the time played on the radio where I live.
2. It may be illegal to copy songs, but they have a copy machine in the library in my town. Dunno about you :)
3. Adobe doesn't prosecute people for pirating Photoshop, coz they know that if someone learns it at home, they will go to work and get their boss to buy a $200 license. Same thing here. Most of the people who pirate are music fanatics, and spend more than the average person on CD's.
Smart bands will give away free demos & such, for promotional purposes.
4. And even if they shut down Napster (unlikely), what are they gonna do about gnutella?
Whether it is right or wrong, there's nothing they can do, and the artists better learn some real promotional techniques whether their goal is money or art.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:08 PM on April 19, 2000

From what I can see, artists like this are screwing themselves. If you check out Gnutella, imesh, and napster you'll see thier stuff _everywhere_. If you go to the newsgroups, you'll find nothing but Metallica/Dre. Now, they are being pirated more than ever. Everyone that I've talked to is done with them forever... Hope they are happy.

By the way, I thought I heard that both artists have named internet folk in thier suits, not just napster?

Oh yeah, one last thing... Metallica never did encourage bootlegging. What they did was strong arm the stuff (audio/video) away from the offenders, had thier security/roadies kick the living hell out of them, and bundle it up and sell it back to us. I would not call that encouragement. For those who think they are just a bunch of cool rock-n-roll guys, think again... they are in business just like any other multi-million dollar corporation.

I did express my closed-minded opinion about all of this in the earlier post. Screw the man... Someone else said it best, this issue is just another feeding ground for the lawyers, god help us.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 6:34 PM on April 19, 2000

So many people have been posting great stuff about this that the mainstream media just hasn't caught onto yet.

MP3 trading is much like the old Cassette days.

I've bought as much, if not more music in spite, or because of widespread mp3 availability. I *know* I've found music I never would have heard before because of mp3.

The people who circumvent copyright by obtaining mp3's they don't own the corresponding album to, probably would have made another type of duplication rather than buy it anyway.

Every single mp3 I have is legal under existing copyright law because I either own the CD or have bought it.

Try before you buy is a rule that software companies learned the hard way after countless security mechanisms were broken. Now it's the record companies' turn.

My father, who owns a small record label, understands MP3, and he can barely turn on a computer. To him, MP3 is a great way to sell CD's, and it will remain that way until MP3 is considered the distribution mechanism of choice.
posted by tomierna at 6:56 PM on April 19, 2000

I do web design for an artist that is leaving a major label. They had to buy their own disc FROM THE LABEL at $9 a pop. the artist themselves. They made their money touring. They always have. but of course, this is the virginia music scene attitude where bands tour their butts off and a very DIY attitude.

We also utilize mp3s as a very viable promotional tool for them. unreleased tracks, complete digital live shows taped and uploaded song by song. It's amazing what the format can do. It's just old flab (literally and figuratively) at the record companies that keep any new model from happening.

Dave matthews or someone like that COULD shake up the industry, but will they? doubtful.
posted by eljuanbobo at 7:36 PM on April 19, 2000

Well bringing up Dave Matthews is interesting, if only because he's often associated with Phish and the Dead - who know all about the commercial benefits of unregulated tapes etc.

I don't think artists are driving anything though. The labels run the show, and they look at examples of "try before you buy" or "developing an invested consumer" (ack - mktg-ese) as weird anomalies. Of course they try to do it themselves in their own way - but with that essential control.

I think it's going to take one of the majors to break the ice. Once one does it they'll all have to follow. You'd think Sony would figure it out - after all, think of all the hardware they'd sell - and if they "pulled a microsoft" they could embed much simpler paths to their own artists (software/content, right?) than others through the hardware (which essentially becomes a platform) and the net... and make a pile. Add micro-transaction stuff from someone like Zero Knowledge or a telco and it's all you need for massive domination.

And then of course I'll complain about that.
posted by mikel at 8:09 PM on April 19, 2000

Even if it was only for a few minutes... It got hit on Friday, attrition has a copy. Between that and the dramatic increase in band's music being "shared," I'd imagine they got the message.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 8:27 PM on April 19, 2000

Artists don't make their serious money on album sales anyway, they make it on concert revenue

i've heard that exact opposite is true; that concert revenue is largely consumed by the cost of touring- expensive gear, venue rental, roadies, etc, and that the real money comes from album sales.
posted by themaxx at 9:00 PM on April 19, 2000

Okay, let's review: there are 100 points on a record. That means you split the 9 bucks a record label charges the store to stock their item 100 ways. You are an artist like, say, Guns and Roses, and every penny of the SIX MILLION DOLLARS of Geffen's money that you've been spending on the last FIVE YEARS of studio excesses (including having Room One (the BIG room) at The Complex in total lockdown for three years of that time, which translates into roughly ten to fifteen grand PER MONTH, then in Room One at Rhumba for the last year, translating into roughly...oh, hell...I can't do that much math this late) making your record has to be paid back from the SEVEN POINTS PER ALBUM that's stipulated in your contract. Seven points = about 70 or so cents a record. So HOW many do they have to sell to recoup? That's right, they're NOT going to sell that many records. They're banking on selling out the Staples Arena for at least five nights, and the arena in your town, too. They have to sell 25,000 seats at fifty a pop to break even...That is, if they can keep the production costs under control. Production costs? That covers the luxury Axl Express private jet, and a bus for each band member, and crew buses (based on experience, I estimate that a tour that size would go on the road with about thirty to forty full-time crew, all on union scale or weekly rates of about three grand, which I know is what most top-tier vari*lite programmers and FOH mix guys go for, some backline and monitor guys going for more than that), lighting rental, backline rental, set construction, truck rental, hotel-room damage, bar tabs, hooker payoffs, and other assorted rockstar bullshit. Pretty soon you realize that they have to sell out every venue they play, every time they play. Metallica does this without batting an eyelash. But if you're Geffen, and this is Axl, the idiot-savant who can't be coaxed into doing his fucking job and getting in front of a mic to finish his vocals because he's been too busy holed up in his Malibu mansion living the life of the idly rich rock icon for most of the past decade, a decade in which the face of rock has done a complete 180, you are positively sweating bullets over the six million you have already spent and know you will have to launch a MASSIVE marketing campaign (also billable to the band) to try and stop the bloodshed. And then, of course, if your album's reviews stink, once you've sold records to your built-in loyal fanbase of about ten million, you're parked there and can't budge it. At that point, you realize that You Are Screwed. So the fault of revenue loss lies squarely on the shoulders of labels that can't rein in their artists and the artists who have lost their grip on reality, not on a class of upscale computer nerds like you and me that just wanna hear good music.

Long Live Macster/Napster. I agree with -frayed's- point - the only thing that Napster has succeeded in doing is making sure you and I go out and buy more Groove Armada and Bjork cds, and sending us all out to stand in a four-hour line for Fatboy Slim tickets. Free music, my ass. I listen, I get hooked, I buy. It's a disease. Mp3s are directly responsible for my late-night CDnow purchases and the subsequent Amex bill. When Guns and Roses comes to town, will I be there, whether the album rocks or sucks? Yes, because I know someone who is working on it and if I don't, he'll kill me. But will you? Check into Napster when the bootleg studio sessions get uploaded and find out. I hope you love it. Geffen hopes you will. Axl's career depends on it.
posted by skintrade at 12:37 AM on April 20, 2000

wow that was so 'inside rock' that I feel like I'm backstage with the roadie from Withnail and I!
posted by chaz at 3:30 AM on April 20, 2000

Simply put. When people can share what music they like, the balance of power shifts. A consumer driven music market can only help artists as long as they trust their fans. We will buy, we are not dumb, we want them to make more music, we won't be bullied into buying what we don't want anymore.

Napster is no more evil then the radio or libraries.
posted by john at 8:44 AM on April 20, 2000

Having worked in the music / tv industry for about 10 years as an audio engineer, (before i left to try and lead a normal life :) i can say that most small and mid sized acts made next to nothing on tour. Revenue started being generated when they moved to arenas or were solo performers getting into mid size venues. For every celine dion (who had a touring rig worth a few million, easy, which the performer rents at a percentage of the total purchase cost per day/week/month, whatever) there are countless others who can't afford a new pickup for their guitar. It will ALWAYS be that way.
If anything, the mp3 "revolution" is a blessing for the thousands of indie bands who want to try to sell the 1 thousand copies of their first album, that they paid for with loans family and friends. For those making the big money, my argument would be that the mp3 effect on them would be neutral, because if you want metallica's new album, there have been many ways before (and will be after) to get it without going to the record store. It's the record label gangsters that are fearing the loss of control of the "product" that is pushing the anti-mp3 movement.
When i dl mp3 files and i like what i hear, i still go out and buy the album. i find mp3 quality is very good to preview with, but it's often full of unwanted noise and other artifacts that drive me nuts. But then i tend to be a bit picky.
posted by herb at 8:50 AM on April 20, 2000

Amongst all the arguments that I'm hearing (most of them bad, some of them good), no one's considering the main revenue loss of these bootlegged artists: royalty compensation for broadcast.

ASCAP and BMI keep a very strict log of what songs are played over commercial radio, how often, whether songs are used for commercials, etc. This is so the songwriters (and performers, I believe, but I'm not 100%) get royalties for the song they've written. Every time "I Can't Smile Without You" is played on the radio, Barry Manilow gets a few more cents. A few more cents may not seem like much, but consider just how many times a particular song is played on the radio, all across the country, and then it begins to add up. That's a lot of money, and if someone gets a hit with staying power, that could sustain an artist for a long, long time.

Napster effectively cheats a songwriter out of their royalties. Metallica and Dr. Dre wouldn't give two tugs of a dead dog's cock as to the distribution model if they were getting royalties for the stuff they've written.

Of course, there's no model for how exactly to track the millions of MP3s floating out there and make sure that artists get paid.

That's why MP3s suck. That's why artists are up in arms over Napster.

You may sit there and scream "FUCK THE MAN!" and think you're really doing a good job of sticking it to Corporate America (ooh, you rebel) with your Napster playlists, but all you're doing is stealing. You're not hurting the companies - the companies will be there no matter what. You're fucking the artists out of money they deserve. And when you put together the fact that both CDs and tours are risky propositions at best, you're hurting an artist where it hurts.

"Well, the music industry just doesn't get it." Oh, they get it all right. Do you really belive, in your heart of hearts, that this is going to make an end run around them? They'll adapt. They're not dumb. Encrypted digital music - they'll make it work. I think they might actually have a case against Napster. Napster is facilitating and encouraging the distribution of illegally obtained pirated material. Napster is fucked.

And before you go and rail against "the industry", keep in mind that all those really big headlining stars pay the bills so that the labels can afford to sign smaller but better-quality acts. The notion that the record industry is just this vampire sucking all the life out of music is a juveline fallacy.

"Well, bands will just get found on the Internet now!" Really? First of all, when you're the 5,763rd Matchbox 20 knockoff who's listed on, the signal-to-noise ratio becomes unbearably high. Second, once that one Internet band gets discovered, what do you think they're going to do? That's right - they're gonna sign with a major label! The industry wins again.

Napster is theft. Napster deprives the artist of revenue. Never mind that "the labels suck", never mind that you go out and buy the fricking CD after you heard it. Napster is illegal, and it's unethical. Ultimately, that's the bottom line.
posted by bumblepuppy at 10:15 AM on April 20, 2000

Very well said argument. Only one problem: Napster isn't any more illegal than a tape recorder. Both can facilitate piracy, as well as be used legally. And you can't outlaw something just because it could be used illegally. That's like outlawing spraypaint because of taggers.

But then I guess we'll have to wait for the courts to prove that. Again.
posted by fraying at 10:39 AM on April 20, 2000

it's amazing how some people can just be totally unreal. all these countless arguements about CDs cost too much when the material for them only costs a dollar or two. HELLO???. you're not paying for the material or all you would get is a blank cd and a plastic case. you are paying for the work that went into the album. you are paying for the advertising costs for that album. you are paying for the distributors costs. you are paying for the retail stores costs, etc.

it's a lot more than just material costs. i dont see anyone yelling so much at the video game industry who uses compact disc media and yet charge around $50 for the game. the cd and packaging still costs the same as a music cd.. so should those prices be different as well? NO. it's the same deal.

Most of you I am assuming live in the US. well you live in a capitalistic country. This is how the country was built and how it works. Don't like capitalism or the US laws.. MOVE.

i'm all for free music, but i am not for depriving bands of possible revenue from the sale of their album.

and please know, bands don't have to be on a major label, shit, they don't have to be on a label period. they could easily be straight DIY and record their music and distro it themselves in MP3 format. those however that choose to be on labels, and choose to make an album and choose to have that album sold are entitled to that, and all you are doing is fucking them over by opting for pirated music rather than buying the music.

and bullshit to the people claiming that downloading these mp3's makes them more likely to purchase the artists CD. I have nearly my whole CD collection encoded in MP3 format on my pc at home with my computer hooked up to my stereo because i like the fact of having a "jukebox". and if i was pro pirated music I would never buy a CD and i would just download the music and have it on my computer like it is now.

i don't understand what the need for purchasing the album would be if you already have the music in digital form.

start fucking thinking and stop trying to be all about "bringing down the man" while you dress up in you're fucking suit and go to your corporate job.

posted by sikk at 11:01 AM on April 20, 2000

hehe, I picture somebody foaming at the mouth after that obsenity laced rant.

Just because you don't have the sense to support the artists of the MP3s you download doesn't mean that I won't or the next guy.

It's not like this stuff hasn't gone on before in different forms. The software industry has been dealing with piracy a lot longer and have only found their sales to increase over the years. Piracy is responsible for killing off a lot of software companies that produced crap. The undeniable fact is that the majority of people purchase what they like and owning a pirated copy doesn't not deter that puchase. So it really sounds like a personal problem to me.

posted by john at 11:45 AM on April 20, 2000

i don't believe that for a second. piracy on many forms has been going on for a long time. being against that is only one part of my "rant", i'm sorry you choose to ignore the rest.

making dup's of cassette tapes and trading with immidiate friends is one thing. making dup's of cds into mp3 format and sharing them with millions across the world who can download them and burn them onto CD creating their own CD is another.

you are unique if you honestly say you would buy the artists cd over that. you can deny doing the opposite all you want, but i hope you acknowledge the fact that the majority of people do not.
posted by sikk at 4:51 PM on April 20, 2000

I think there's a touch of irony in the fact that the musicians that can "afford to be progressive" are also the musicians who can afford to try and do something about it. Realistically, if you aren't a Metallica or Dr. Dre, you probably can't afford to initiate this kind of war.
posted by peas at 6:32 PM on April 20, 2000

What a messy subject. Anecdotal evidence and strong opinions won't get us anywhere. Are there any statistics on this matter? Like music store sales trends in regions (colleges) of heavy Napster use? I know that these could be messy as well, but The Statistician can work in subtle ways.
posted by EngineBeak at 8:01 PM on April 20, 2000

Why is there such a huge surge towards MP3s in the first place?

I have a theory. Napster & MP3 trading is the new radio.

Think about it... you used to listen to the radio, get exposed to new music for free, and when you heard stuff you liked, you'd go out and buy the album.

But radio is so homogenized that it's hard to find a station that plays anything worth listening to.

The only reason Napster is different is that theoretically, you don't ever have to buy the CD to listen to MP3s-- kind of like taping songs off the radio, taken to a new level by available technology.

Napster can't be like it is forever because sometime the Napster developers are going to have to get paid. They're going to have to partner with someone who sells music. They're going to have to find a way to let people buy music by clicking on a link in Napster. Then they'll have proof that people are buying music because they're hearing it first via MP3s.

And btw, my SO and I have both bought albums after hearing the tracks via MP3s first.

The biggest temptation of piracy for me is the rare tracks people put on Napster. I don't even know where some of these things come from-- I didn't know they existed or I would have bought them already, like an amazing cover of Nirvana's "About a Girl" done by Cibo Matto (!!) I looked everywhere for the CD which contained that song after hearing the MP3 and I couldn't find it.

In some cases it's more insidious though, like b-sides of singles. I don't want to buy singles because they clutter up my already stuffed CD collection and they're expensive for as little music as you get. But I've found a few b-side tracks via MP3 trading that I wound up really liking. I want them but I don't want to pay as much for them as the record companies are asking. That doesn't make it right for me to pirate the songs, but you can understand why it's happening. I think that's a big part of the Napster dilemma.

As far as record companies go... I don't think it's right to steal from a corrupt system any more than it's right to steal from an honest one. But I can definitely see why people are disgusted by record companies when they learn that their favorite artists only get about a dollar for every $15 their fans shell out for their music. (The "$1 per CD" figure I believe originates from a Behind the Music special on TLC, who broke down the sales numbers behind one of their albums when they explained why they went bankrupt.) People want to listen to TLC and they want to pay TLC for the privilege, not Pebbles (their manager who got an exorbitant cut of their profits) or LaFace Records.

And to add a personal rant, I find it's typical of big business that they go on and on about how they shouldn't be regulated and the government shouldn't interfere with the free market-- but when the free market develops something like MP3 trading, which economically you can see as a market reaction to perceived overpricing of a commodity (music) due to wasteful business practices, big business cries and mewls and whines and sues because they're "losing" profits (btw, most news stories about MP3s point out that 1999 was significantly *more* profitable than '98 for all the complaining record companies).

It's a complicated issue. Sadly I doubt it will be resolved in a way that benefits musicians, music lovers & customers. There's just too much money at stake for the middlemen.
posted by wiremommy at 12:29 PM on April 21, 2000

Who says that listening to Mp3s as a prelude to buying the CDs is bullshit? I've been downloading Mp3s for almost a year and I'd say about 85% of the CDs I've acquired in that time comes to hearing a song or two and wanting the CD. I can't bring the Mp3s on my computer everywhere with me. I want to be able to play the music on my big stereo and in my car and when I'm out and about. I'd say because of "free Mp3s" I've spent more of my hard-earned cash on CDs than ever before.
posted by thisyearsgirl at 4:03 AM on April 28, 2000

This is a little late, but...

Has anyone seen the Sony MP3 player that is currently retailing for US$400? It's an alternative to a walkman or a discman, it can store up to 80 minutes worth of MP3 music. It seems to me that 'Corporate America', for all it's talk about being opposed to this 'stealing', seems to be cashing in on MP3s pretty fucking quickly.

posted by roxy at 6:16 AM on May 24, 2000

« Older   |   Seperated at birth? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments