Apologies if this has been on the list already, been a bit busy
lately to read things but anyway look, Napster just got competition...
March Madness in April? Napster & RIAA Continue to Duke it Out!
Artists and Labels: Place Your Bets...
By: Heather Johnson (Associate Writer, MusicDish)
April 3, 2001 will appear in music history books as the date of the
first U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the future of
digital music. While the Senate discusses copyright law and online
entertainment, online distributors, major record companies and our
friends at Napster are looking to new horizons for marketing music.
Yesterday it was announced that RealNetworks, a leader in music
distribution, joined with AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann AG and EMI
Group PLC to launch MusicNet, a new online subscription service to be
launched later this year. MusicNet, which will allow users to play
and store music for a set fee, will adopt proper licensing
agreements, to ensure that artists and record companies get
compensated for the music that is distributed.
In a recent news conference, MusicNet officials admitted that the
popularity of Napster helped fuel their decision to launch a new
subscription service. Meanwhile, Napster continues their battles with
The world's leading file-sharing community reports that they are
aggressively complying with the court's recent injunction, blocking
access to over 275,000 unique songs and over 1.6 million unique file
names. In addition, with the aid of Gracenote's database, Napster
reports to have added over 10,000 variations in artists' names and
over 40,000 variations in song titles. According to a recent
statement from Hank Barry, acting CEO for Napster, Inc., the total
number of files available through the Napster index at any one time
has dropped by 57 percent from 370 million to 160 million, and the
average number of files being shared by users has dropped by almost
two thirds form 198 to 74.
"Effective blocking is an ongoing and iterative process that we take
very seriously," Barry said. "Thirty percent of Napster's staff are
working full-time on aspects of compliance, whether it be
engineering, database management, notice processing or variant
identification, and almost everyone in the company has contributed in
some way to our compliance effort. More progress is being made every
Officials with the RIAA, however, claim that Napster's efforts are
less than perfect. The recording organization outlined the numerous
problems with Napster's "archaic" filtering system and asked that the
service either adopt superior technology-based filters or revamp into
a "filter-in" system only. Under a "filter-in" model, Napster would
only permit works on their system that are authorized to be on their
"Napster seems to have adopted the most porous filter available. Do
they refuse to employ an effective filter for fear that it might
actually work?" Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry
Association of America said. "Calling this type of filter effective
is like calling an umbrella full of holes a hurricane shelter. It's
not working, it never will work and Napster should be ordered to
implement an effective filter or to change its filtering method."
In response to this strong statement, Napster shifts the blame back
to the RIAA. Napster officials state that the RIAA's report fails to
mention a "complete lack of cooperation" in supplying variations in
artist names and song titles. "While we have gone forward to block a
multitude of files, it is important to note that not a single record
company has provided us with one variant of any song name," Barry
notes. "This is contrary to both the Ninth Circuit's decision and the
District Court's order."
While the two companies work to resolve their conflicts, one
independent artist in particular will benefit from the flurry of
court orders and hearings. Boston-based rock band Dispatch will
headline the Napster Goes to Washington Concert tonight at the 9:30
Club in Washington, DC. The free show, which coincides with the
Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing, is being organized as a thank
you for the Napster supporters who are planning to attend the hearing
to show their support.
The event will be webcast live by Digital Club Network, a webcaster
of live music, on Tuesday evening at 9:00 p.m. (EST).
Dispatch, DCN and Napster will also release several live tracks
through Napster's Featured Music Program in the weeks following the
concert. Other Dispatch webcasts can be found archived at Digital
Dispatch actively promotes its music on Napster, so when founder
Shawn Fanning invited the band to perform at the Napster Goes to
Washington event, they jumped at the chance.
Band member Chad Urmston further emphasized that during a recent
tour, the band played to large crowds even in new cities, and he
directly attributes that support to Napster.
The self-titled debut from Dublin-based band Skindive hit record
stores today and their label, Palm Pictures, has included Napster in
their promotional plan. Napster and the college cable TV network
Burly Bear have entered into a promotional agreement to introduce
Skindive to the twenty-something marketplace.
The four-pronged college-targeted promotion will incorporate
Napster's Featured Music Program, television marketing, Internet
promotion and contests, and on-campus guerilla marketing.
Through its "Featured Music Program," Napster will promote an
exclusive re-mix of Skindive's first single, "Tranquillizer," to
their over 70 million registered users. Users will be able to link
directly to Burlybear.com to stream the band's music video on-demand,
find more information on Skindive and register to win a SONY 35"
"We are very excited to partner with Napster and Burly Bear to
introduce Skindive. This integrated cross-promotional campaign
represents an essential component of Palm's approach to artist
development." Chris Blackwell, Founder of Palm Pictures said.
To further assist independent artists, Napster recently partnered
with StarPolish to develop a new "Advice" section that will provide
musicians with information on creating MP3 files, promoting and
marketing their music and other topics. The section will be updated
on a bi-weekly basis.
Napster has also created a section called "Collaborate" through its
alliance with Tonos. Napster now offers new artists the Tonos TC8, an
innovative and easy-to-use home recording and mixing tool that
enables musicians to record music on their own, or make music with
other musicians via the Internet.
As the recording industry and Napster duke it out in the digital
music boxing ring, the independent artists are walking away with the
least amount of bruises.
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