April 5, 2001
11:12 AM   Subscribe

In response to Napster's call to arms to its 60 million users to converge on Congress during the Senate Judiciary Committee session yesterday, about 500 people showed up. That's a turn-out of 0.0008 %. In contrast, a far more significant proportion of users indicates in online polls that they would be willing to pay for the service - anywhere from 20 to 50%, depending on the survey.

I wonder if someone in Redwood City is looking at these numbers. All the hype and rhetoric aside; this battle is lost in advance in the political or legal arena, since it belongs in a brightly lit board room, with a few people working out a proper, law-abiding business plan. Like everyone else. That's the cold inevitable truth.
posted by coyroy (11 comments total)
Already got one , thanks.

"Music television is about to expand to the Internet, as all five major labels announce a new retail service that will allow consumers to purchase digital downloads through MTV's online network."

"The service will initially have 10,000 tracks available, with singles selling for $1.99 and albums selling for $18.98. Consumers will have a variety of rights in terms of how they get to transport the music, depending on which label the music comes from."

"While the price seems high for music that is delivered digitally and comes with some restrictions on use, one record label executive said that maintaining a retail price structure was important in clearing licenses."

"It makes it more complex to go to an artist and tell them that they are going to get less money because they are selling the tracks digitally."

Gee, us guyz in the music biz are so concerned about the poor artists getting their share.

So, how many people think this is the mp3 killer? I doubt it, said the Walrus...
posted by jfuller at 11:26 AM on April 5, 2001

No way... the price has to come way down... $20 for an album? with restrictions? who in their right mind...? and there has to be assurances that the artist will be getting a bigger cut. The implication that if they dropped the prices artists would get less, is very telling. Why should a drop in price come from the artist's share when they get such a small amount from sales in the first place? Doesn't part of the Labels' share supposedly pay for manufacture, distribution, etc...?
posted by Haveed at 11:51 AM on April 5, 2001

Napster asking users to descend on congress struck me as funny. I can't remember who said it, or where I read it, but somewhere (here?) there was a great diatribe about napster and activism. It was something like "a couple generations ago, people fought in the streets and struggled until strides were made for civil rights. The next generation fought against an unjust war in Vietnam. And now the current generation's big struggle is fighting for free pop music."

The pricing is a joke. If record companies embraced the web years ago, and made songs a buck each, I doubt a napster would have ever been developed, since it's more conveinient to just pay a small fee and get the songs where you know you can get them, quickly, than to chase them down on others' machines. This ~$20 a CD is a load of crap, since there's nowhere near the production or distribution costs a CD requires.
posted by mathowie at 12:00 PM on April 5, 2001

Better yet, the artists can cut out the major labels altogether and sell songs online for, say, 50 cents apiece. They'd probably make a better deal off of that than they had selling albums through the majors.
posted by Loudmax at 1:41 PM on April 5, 2001

Here's some more coverage of the hearings from the Register:

Napster's heinous crime: independence

MPAA believes all Netizens are criminals

And here's a comment I made on the story yesterday that may be apropos to this one.

ps: My compliments on the ctrl-shirt-a autolinker.
posted by retrofut at 1:45 PM on April 5, 2001

Was it this article in Salon, Matt?

And, yeah...march for Napster? Please. I'd rather have marched after the MPAA sued 2600 over distribution of DeCSS.
posted by RakDaddy at 2:32 PM on April 5, 2001

"And now the current generation's big struggle is fighting for free pop music"

The whole point is, it ISN'T a big struggle, since people now and then are smart enough to understand that pop music, although it has an emotional value to many, is a product, that takes money to source, engineer, produce, market and distribute. So you can't have it free, just because someone writes a program that makes it possible.

But a bit of upheaval every now and then in any industry is not a bad thing.
posted by coyroy at 2:48 PM on April 5, 2001

Hmmm.... I'm not sure if this has been asked before, but:

Just how much of the proceeds from online sales is the artist going to see?

Does it justify stomping on Napster if the money is just going back to the labels? It seems like (to me at least) the recording industry has just been going around rousing up all the artists to protect their own stake in the profits.

TLC mentioned on VH-1 that they get 7 out of 100 points for an album...what's the breakdown of points on a $1.99 single?
posted by brokosz at 3:01 PM on April 5, 2001

I'm not sure why the pricing suprised anyone, really. The typical label acknowledged long ago that actually making physical CDs, and even the distribution of them, isn't the largest part of the fee structure.

Paying for all the people involved, and the investment on other bands (remember, the big names pay for all the other artists to put out a failing CD) is where all the money supposedly goes.

That's the argument, at least, and to maintain that argument the labels have to charge just as much or more than they otherwise would.

Dropping the price would be as bad as admitting that they (labels) don't lose as much to investments on other artists as they claim to. That, in turn, would be an argument that they don't need to charge as much on CDs.

That in turn leads to a drop in CD prices, which means a hit to their bottom line. It could also be the thing that turns label hating, which is currently at best a discussion topic for many people - I'd say most don't even think about it except when they're buying a CD "grumble grumble money grubbing bastards... Oer! Shiny thing!" - into an active hobby.

"The bastards lied to us," will be the common cry, "and we're going to do everything in our power to screw them over."

Sure, CD trading is mostly done through mp3s, but say Napster's demise destroys online mp3 trading. I could see a group of 10 people contribute $2 each to buy a CD and burn it onto 9 copies. Making mixed audio CDs is already more common than mixed tape making was. Now the source is the Internet, tomorrow it will be your peers.

The fucking genie is out of the fucking bottle. Accept it, get over it, and figure out what you're going to do to be around in 2 years, let alone a billion dollar corporation.

I really hope the current generation will be the one that really topples the political system of "knowledge is power" and raises "knowledge is freedom"
posted by cCranium at 7:59 AM on April 6, 2001

I recall something in the LA Weekly about ten years ago that only one in 135 bands signed to the majors made a profit. And two years ago Webnoize asserted that only 200 or so CDs released one year had sold more than 10,000 copies.

The book industry in this country is one last bastion against the encroachment of standard business practices, as many authors will tell you; looks like the movie and record industries are even further out there in terms of being able to predict what people will buy, and with better lawyers. (I know of contracts that specifically cover the corp's rights on locations other than the surface of this planet.)
posted by retrofut at 10:04 AM on April 6, 2001

Well, the record labels only get about $10-$12 per CD, the rest is retail-level profit. If the labels are selling albums in digital format directly online, they could charge the $10 and be done with it. $19 is ridiculous. $2 for a song is even worse.
posted by daveadams at 2:00 PM on April 6, 2001

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