Record Labels' Answer to Napster Still Has Artists Feeling Bypassed (NY Times).
February 18, 2002 1:12 AM   Subscribe

Record Labels' Answer to Napster Still Has Artists Feeling Bypassed (NY Times). Well, it seems the shoe's on the other foot now. Some artists are learning that the industry alternative (Pressplay, MusicNet) to free music downloading services isn't paying quite the dividends they'd expected.
"Last December, the major record labels responded with two Internet services of their own where fans pay monthly fees to download songs. Under this arrangement, however, the performers still don't get a dime: for each song downloaded, they stand to get only a fraction of a cent, according to the calculations of disgruntled managers and lawyers. And, artists and their managers say, the labels, like Napster, aren't putting the music online with proper permission either.
Can't say I have a lot of sympathy for any of the principals involved. What is especially amusing (but not surprising) is the apparent duplicity of the labels: "in comments not for attribution, several executives at labels and their subscription services did not dispute the accusations regarding the payment plan. They said their first priority was to make the services attractive to consumers and that the details of compensation could be worked out afterward."
posted by topolino (14 comments total)
Some friends of mine who have a fairly successful locally in L.A. (but still unsigned) band, say that for the small-time artist, getting compensation directly from the people downloading the music is really beside the point. What the small acts want is publicity, including the listenership of people all over the world who would never pay for their music (at this point) but would be willing to try it out for free.
posted by bingo at 2:16 AM on February 18, 2002

It is not just the artists that are feeling duped. From what I hear, Music labels are making a terrible mess of the service level of the downlaoding services too. 'What I Want' (from 'New Architect') documents the problems that they still have to sort out if they expect to reach economies of scale. (Interestingly, the article quotes a Metafilter comment to demonstrate customer dissastisfaction with the music industry services).

The big labels have always been well way behind the curve in adoption of new technology. They also indulge in strong arm tactics whenever they can get away with it. But they are so much bigger and the barrier to entry so high that smaller labels typically sell out, unknown artists eventually sign up if they expect to gain anything more than regional fame. Ani Difranco is the only example that I can think of - of someone who has managed to beat the system.
posted by justlooking at 4:37 AM on February 18, 2002 was a great service, working with record labels (albeit, not enough of them), providing an amazing array of downloads from obscure record labels.

I used them for the whole run of my 3-4 month subscription (don't remember, it's been a while and I haven't loaded the page since cancelling), and they were great. Very fast servers, great selection of albums, good categorization.

All-in-all, this service got it right; paying labels for access to their entire catalogues. Hell, I even got my hands on some very rare Slayer stuff I didn't know existed.

Just my 2 cents though...
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:02 AM on February 18, 2002

Major record labels don't give a damn about their artists. The only thing they worry about is the bottom line.
posted by eraserhed at 7:08 AM on February 18, 2002

Do your favorite "unknown" artist a favor and buy their CD directly from them. At a concert, from their website, or by mail, whatever it takes. It doesn't eliminate the record companies, but it puts more cash in the hands of the artists.
posted by tommasz at 7:20 AM on February 18, 2002

I can only hope that Metallica is also getting shafted.
posted by trioperative at 8:55 AM on February 18, 2002

emusic is still around, BTW. And they have everything from Epitaph, so if you're into punk, it kicks ass.
posted by smackfu at 9:29 AM on February 18, 2002

any artist complaining about not getting enough money is probably getting way too much money... or at least used to getting way too much.
posted by Satapher at 9:58 AM on February 18, 2002

Audiogalaxy still works like a charm, better than Napster ever was, and it's free...
posted by Ben Grimm at 10:12 AM on February 18, 2002

More sad attempts from an industry desperately flailing in resistance to evolution. None of this worries me. I will always get the music I want, and I will never put up will b.s. like media files that cease working when you cease paying your subscription.

The industry tried to resist and failed at the dawn of VHS. The industry will try and fail again at the dawn of the internet and recordable digital media.

The customer is always right.
posted by tomorama at 10:28 AM on February 18, 2002

Audiogalaxy still works like a charm...

Yeah, and so does the spyware it installs on your system. Morpheus and WinMX, which I use in conjunction, seem to be free of these scourges.
posted by Danelope at 10:35 AM on February 18, 2002

I don't know about Morpheus, but I know Kazaa won't run without it's spyware components.

tomorama: with eMusic, the mp3 files continue working long after subscriptions are up. You just can't access any more mp3s afterwards. You can still browse their entire catalogue, though, in case there are enough files worth your subscription at a later date.

Like I said, I was very happy with eMusic. I just ran out of stuff to download for now.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:41 AM on February 18, 2002

My emusic subscription runs out today, and I'll be putting it on hold until the catalogue has more stuff I want. I have also been impressed with the service levels and quality of the downloads.

I have used WinMX for other downloads, and I really prefer it to Morpheus et al. There aren't as many users on it, but there's no advertising and you get a good idea of what's available. Ad-aware didn't detect any spyware when WinMX loaded.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:33 PM on February 18, 2002

Audiogalaxy still works like a charm...

Yeah, and so does the spyware it installs on your system. Morpheus and WinMX, which I use in conjunction, seem to be free of these scourges.

Run ad-aware after the install and you're set.
posted by yupislyr at 3:02 PM on February 19, 2002

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