Hating Hilary.
January 23, 2003 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Hating Hilary. We've certainly heard a bit from Hilary Rosen, CEO of the RIAA. Love her, hate her or hate her more, this particular interview reveals (to me at least) a very different Hilary, a woman who is perhaps not the beast that her bosses expect her to be and the immovable technophobic distribution system and business model she represents forces her to be.

In fact, Rosen tried to steer the labels toward the online future long before they saw it coming. In the mid-'90s, Rosen brought [Esther] Dyson to a conference of music executives to brief them on how technology would transform their business. Dyson described for them the inevitability of digital delivery, an eventuality Rosen says she had begun to understand but wanted her bosses to hear from an outsider. But as Dyson spoke, the label executives became defensive, then furious. By all accounts, the meeting devolved into a shouting match.

the picture of her with an iPod says it all

"I finally convince the idiot record companies that they have to offer a product to compete with pirates, and now the publishers won't make a deal," she said, throwing up her hands. priceless.
posted by 11235813 (39 comments total)
I hate to be a wet blanket, fibonacci, but there was a Hilary Rosen thread just yesterday.
posted by beth at 10:40 AM on January 23, 2003

eh, this is worth talking about.
posted by mathowie at 10:45 AM on January 23, 2003

it's a very different dicussion i hope to get from the article i posted, beth. two separate events. thanks.
posted by 11235813 at 10:54 AM on January 23, 2003

The article wasn't really an interview with her. They had about 3 quotes, none of which were very revealing. I'd be interested in a thorough interview where she could really get into her point of view throughout this whole sordid process with Napster, etc.
posted by witchstone at 11:00 AM on January 23, 2003

I bet the spokesperson for the Horse-and-Buggy lobby was a nice person as well. Any bets on when the RIAA disbands? Seems to me that as soon as one label creates a digital distribution model that makes money, there will no longer be a common enemy.
posted by machaus at 11:04 AM on January 23, 2003

"Rosen single-handedly marshaled the forces necessary to push back the power of the digital age. At least temporarily."

I think that says everything about her that needs to be said.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2003

"It's absolutely clear that the reason our sales are on the decline is the Internet and CD burning," Rosen declared when we first met.

That's such a bold faced lie as to invalidate any other spin she's trying to do for herself. It might contribute a little, but it's far from the reason their sales are in decline and if she's as savvy as she is trying to portray herself to be then she must know that.

I was far more interested in Wired's story from yesterday The Year the Music Dies. Call me an rosy eyed optimist, but I'd love to believe that the major label system might actually crumble in the next 5 years or sooner.
posted by willnot at 11:30 AM on January 23, 2003

Agreed, willnot. Here's another choice quote from the article, from the author himself:

File-sharing has become part of pop culture; witness the Intel ad that shows a scruffy guy happily burning tunes onto a CD-R.

Yesterday I did the same thing. I burned a CD-R chock full of MP3s (albeit not on an Intel box). My own MP3s. Ripped from my own CDs. So that I could listen to them in my own car.

This is what pisses me off about the RIAA battle. The RIAA has had enormous success equating MP3s with file sharing, and file sharing with piracy, and piracy with a huge decline in sales. All this PR lays the groundwork for collecting royalties on my CD-R media, proposing to tax my internet usage, asking for federal dollars for their policework, eroding the privacy rights of ISPs, trying to build copy protection into computers, and on and on and on. All these things directly affect my money, my fair use of my own purchases, and my privacy, even though I've never downloaded an MP3.
posted by delapohl at 11:40 AM on January 23, 2003

"It's absolutely clear that the reason our sales are on the decline is the Internet and CD burning," Rosen declared when we first met.

I think you could also interpret this as a recognition of the symptoms caused in reaction to the RIAA's overpriced product. The Internet and CD burning facilitate an alternative to $16 CDs as a change in consumer habits, and Hillary was probably aware of this. I doubt the RIAA was willing to accept this scenario, even if presented by Rosen.

She was still an industry whore though.
posted by hulette at 11:46 AM on January 23, 2003

, even though I've never downloaded an MP3.

I have to confess that once I did download some, but I didn't inhale
posted by matteo at 11:49 AM on January 23, 2003

the picture of her with an iPod says it all
Hypocrite. Highest. Order.

Or HHO for those of you into TLA's and/or all that shiznit.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:55 AM on January 23, 2003

delapohl, yes! much of what the major labels argue (and by default the RIAA as their voice) is fallacious. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

The rhetoric is bothersome. Sales are on the decline because of the Internet and CD burning. It isn't because of the Internet and burners. It is because it they are tools that meet our needs. We have the opportunity to build music libraries according to our rules, not what the suits say.

If the labels take a risk, they just might be ten times more profitable than they are now. I only wish I had the answer. I'd be a very rich man. Even then, it is a risk -- something labels aren't known for doing. Bubble gum pop, my ass.
posted by pedantic at 11:59 AM on January 23, 2003

The interview is quite sympathetic but she did get $1m per annum to take the abuse. The fact remains that she lobbied for some pretty skanky legislation: 'work for hire' for artists and that 'we can hack your computer' clause. At best she's a corporate stooge, at worst "a total hard-ass monster". The record execs may be even more conservative than she, but Rosen was their public face.

The final quote in the article sums it up neatly: "...she will be remembered not as an agent for constructive change, but as an agent standing in the way of constructive change."
posted by bonehead at 12:03 PM on January 23, 2003

the picture of her with an iPod says it all

Not to derail, but I do believe that those are the hugest hands I've ever seen on a woman.
posted by ttrendel at 12:04 PM on January 23, 2003

what about Jenna Elfman's?
posted by matteo at 12:13 PM on January 23, 2003

Not to derail, but I do believe that those are the hugest hands I've ever seen on a woman.

what about Jenna Elfman's?

Not to continue the derailment, but Rosen's are way bigger ;-)
posted by JaxJaggywires at 12:24 PM on January 23, 2003

what about Jenna Elfman's?

But just imagine what she can do with them...

Sorry, I have to be excused for few minutes.
posted by smcniven at 12:29 PM on January 23, 2003

And she's fat!
posted by xmutex at 12:30 PM on January 23, 2003

actually, no. she's zoftig. get back on topic.
posted by patricking at 12:36 PM on January 23, 2003

get back on topic

She's a lesbian!

(Rosen, not Elfman)
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:43 PM on January 23, 2003

"She's a lesbian!"

I did not know that.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:48 PM on January 23, 2003

Rosen's are way bigger ;-)

no, Rosen's are just thicker, but shorter.
Look at her pics, Elfman's palms and fingers are impressively long (btw this has nothing to do with my opinion of ms. Elfman, whom I consider a very good comedy actress -- even if almost always dealing with weak scripts -- and a very attractive young woman)
posted by matteo at 12:53 PM on January 23, 2003

pedantic, i think the answer is quite simple, really.

you see the massive success and consumer embrace of napster, p2p, kazaa. you see the widespread use of mp3 as the format of choice. (altho i prefer ogg). they're competing with something that is free. therefore, all they'd REALLY have to do is add just a LITTLE BIT of value and consumers just might do it! ie: if i could have access to a p2p network as i use now, and enjoy the benefits of what i use now and in addition am offered something that is of worth to me (guarantee of higher quality downloads, mp3 or ogg high bitrate files, guaranteed faster transfer rates) in ADDITION to the normal expectations of a network, you'd be looking at some very happy music listeners.

instead, each of their pitiful attempts at making an online music service (ie: pressplay) have failed miserably because they simply offered nothing even close to what consumers wanted (and were used to) in terms of catalogue, format or flexibility and then confined them with DRM and restrictive use of the media they had already purchased. quite simply, there was never an argument to pay for one of their services because the offerings of the free networks were BETTER than what you'd get had you shelled out some cash.
posted by 11235813 at 12:57 PM on January 23, 2003

I don't think she, the RIAA, or their critics have paid nearly as much attention to the vastly increased competition that they face, and the fact that even if the RIAA could summarly eliminate file sharing they would still be in about the same position.

I mean, youngsters can spend $50 on a console game that they will play for 100 hours or more, or $20 for a pre-packaged plop CD that they'll forget they own after 2 playing.

And the record year for Hollywood at the boxoffice - a lot of those tickets came out of money that might have been spent on CD's.

For oldsters like me, the difference between basic cable/satellite and premium works out to a CD or two a month.

Bottom line - the RIAA makes less and less product that people want and there's just so mush more competition.
posted by Jos Bleau at 12:58 PM on January 23, 2003

I had to count Jenna Elfman's fingers in that photo a few times to convince myself that she didn't have an extra one. Long fingers yes, but Rosen wins for sheer girth. I actually think she's a pretty attractive woman, but she looks like she could squeeze that iPod into dust with her George "The Animal" Steele-esque mitts.

posted by ttrendel at 1:02 PM on January 23, 2003

Meh. She can say all she wants about how progressive she is. Covering the things she said and did at the helm with 'I was just doing my job' doesn't cut it. People have to be judged for the things they say and do. What their job requires of them doesn't really come into it; their choice to do the job does.
posted by holycola at 1:10 PM on January 23, 2003

I hear Rosen's leading off Penthouse's "Girls of the RIAA" issue this April.

Jerry: She had man hands.
Elaine: Man hands?
Jerry: The hands of a man. It's like a creature out of Greek mythology. I mean, she was like part woman, part horrible beast.
Elaine: Would you prefer it if she had no hands at all?
Jerry: Would she have hooks?

posted by gottabefunky at 1:26 PM on January 23, 2003

What their job requires of them doesn't really come into it; their choice to do the job does

Couldn't have said it better. And believe me, I was trying before I hit Preview.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:28 PM on January 23, 2003

1123.14159265358 (sorry, Pi is easier than remembering your nom de plume). ;)

quite simply, there was never an argument to pay for one of their services because the offerings of the free networks were BETTER than what you'd get had you shelled out some cash.

Exactamundo. When I say risk, I mean it in the sense that they need to do exactly that. To the labels, it is going against how they've functioned for years. It is such a big, happy family -- the music industry. Labels/radio/performance stroke each other. It is all they've ever known. Doing something out of your element is a risk. That's what growing up is all about. The music industry is a bunch of little kids wanting their pie. Hopefully, they'll realized that this P2P zit is what being a teen is all about -- adapting.
posted by pedantic at 2:05 PM on January 23, 2003

Apple's "Switch" campaign is tired. They need to run with that picture of Rosen and fire up their "Bitch" campaign.
posted by NortonDC at 2:06 PM on January 23, 2003

yeah but the Rolling Stones are going to ask Apple a shitload of money for the rights
posted by matteo at 2:56 PM on January 23, 2003

Allright, she's less of a hard-ass than the five music label CEO jerks she takes the heat and works for. Can we get some of the low down against them? No sense in letting them off easy....

(I know, I should go looking myself, but I can't get on the RIAA website to get a listing of represented labels... I wonder if it's from the announcement that Hillary's quitin')

(Actually, working on recollection, I'm not sure the RIAA site did have a list of represented labels, but my use of google isn't turning up much else yet).
posted by namespan at 3:24 PM on January 23, 2003

Just for you NortonDC. I made it myself:

posted by WolfDaddy at 4:13 PM on January 23, 2003

member labels of the RIAA
posted by willnot at 4:16 PM on January 23, 2003

munged the link. Let's try again member labels.
posted by willnot at 4:17 PM on January 23, 2003

On a Wired's-music-issue related note, Tommy Mottola, the head of Sony Music who'd like the whole mp3 thing to just disappear (unfortunately, the article "The civil war inside Sony" is not online at time of writing), 'resigned' a couple of weeks ago.

Two down...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:56 PM on January 23, 2003

Ok, it's online, just not linked yet.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:01 PM on January 23, 2003

Wow, very professional, WolfDaddy; you even hid the tufts of hair on the backs of her hands.
posted by NortonDC at 6:26 PM on January 23, 2003

I don't think HRs mentality is not atypical in some professions. Lawyers, lobbyists, and political consultants all settle into the voice they are paid to have, voicing the opinions that came with the contract. She is just as bad as the mouthpieces of tobacco and Scientology. An ideological mercenary.

Record company people are scary with how little they are worried about art. I used to run conference calls for a label under the AOL umbrella now. They never talk about their personal opinion of the CD. They get "excited" about a CD and are worried more about a "good buzz" than a quality piece of work. I know this comes as a newsflash to everyone.

And unfortunately Jenna Elfman is a Scientologist, a clear even. Call me Xenu baby!! Help me exorcize the body thetans in my pants!!
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 7:36 PM on January 23, 2003

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