Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Napster & pals

Author:Jeremy Bowers
Posted:4/20/2000; 5:18:28 PM
Topic:scriptingNews outline for 4/20/2000
Msg #:16475 (In response to 16428)
Prev/Next:16474 / 16476

Why doesn't one of the artists make lemonade out of the Napster lemon, and release a low-res scan of one of their songs, a demo, with a link to a website where I can purchase the full-res scan, downloadable as an MP3 of course.

Since one of the conditions of signing with one of the labels is to turn over every right you posess on the music, the only people that could do this would be the labels themselves. Others who have tried get squashed by the label, who refuses to license the rights, giving the reason that they feel it is a service they should provide themselves, and not some store... but, mysteriously, the labels never get around to providing it. Some of it is they never seem to get that magical music format that makes piracy 100.000% impossible, and some of it is simply fear.

This is the same basic reason that you cannot buy a CD built with just the tracks you want... unless somebody's made a deal with some label to put out some severly restricted set of tracks as a "test" that never seems to go anywhere. A couple of the larger retail chains did that, or so claim some articles I've read, but I've never seen one of these devices, and I'm pretty certain they never got past the "testing" (or, "press-demo") stage. The labels claim it is their right and function to provide that service and then never follow up on it. In this case, I think they fear the money lost from the industry-standard practice of putting a top 10 song on a CD full of 20-40 minutes of hurried crap from the band, and charging $15, when they could only charge 1-3$ for the single track. (That's the probable reason for the narrow selection in those few test machines. You can't use these systems to bypass buying the full, trashy CD.) This is the root of "the music labels are gouging the customers" argument that Napster proponents use... whether you buy it is up to you (I don't), but IMHO it is the argument with the most merit for proving that the effectively-monopolized music market is hurting consumers in the pocketbook.

Those are probably the two biggest services that are flat-out missing and really prove that the market is being stifled by the labels, and innovation is being crushed as quickly as they develop. "Unfortunately" (for the labels), that is not a long-term solution, it just builds up demand until it comes out at you in a big rush... as it is just starting to now.

There are people outside of the labels are already providing both of these services. You can look at as a way of distributing MP3 demos in the hope that you will buy a CD with that music on it. They can't use Greatful Dead songs though, because those belong to the labels, which don't let people do these sort of things, so and competitors have to build a library from scratch. If you want Grateful Dead mp3's, you're going to have to rip them from your CD's for the forseeable future, or get them from Napster.

(For the record, there is nothing illegal about downloading an MP3 of a song you possess in CD format, so if you've already got the Grateful Dead music, or anything else, in CD format, grap Napster and go. I am not so certain about tape or vinyl.)

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