[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[FYI] Napster: Die Musikerszene wehrt sich


-------------------------------- CUT ------------------------------
Artists to Napster: Drop dead! 

To many musicians, the MP3 trading software isn't a revolution -- 
it's a rip-off.  

                - - - - - - - - - - - -
                   BY ERIC BOEHLERT

But Scott Sapp, lead singer for the popular rock band Creed, says the 
time has come to speak out: "It has been taboo for artists to speak 
out concerning the business side of their music. The fear has been 
that the buying public, as well as other artists, would perceive this 
concern as greed, and that the artists' sole purpose for creating was 
the money. This perception has silenced many artists concerning MP3 
and Napster. The silence must end."  

And that's where the bad news for Napster begins. Napster may have 
started out as a labor-of-love project, but it's now a technology 
corporation -- and as the infant company attempts to grow and form 
profitable marketing alliances, Napster's going to need support from 
the artist community, not just unsigned wannabes but full-fledged 
stars. The problem is, as more artists and their advocates bone up on 
Napster and agree to talk about it, it's clear there's a reservoir of 
resentment over what they see as the blatant theft of their work -- 
their intellectual property -- made possible by arrogant Napster 
programmers and their investors.  

"Napster is robbing me blind," complains Sapp. Black Crowes lead 
singer Chris Robinson became upset during the Silicon Alley 2000 
conference when his panel discussion turned towards Napster, which he 
railed was ripping him off. At the same time, rapper and label 
founder Puffy Combs has complained that Napster "abuses" artists and 
that it should show more respect.  

"What disturbs me the most is that artists' rights are never 
discussed," says manager Ron Stone, who notes most of the Napster 
press coverage has framed the debate as "an argument between Internet 
groups and record companies, or the RIAA. Artists just seem to be a 
ping-pong ball whacked back and forth and nobody gives a fuck about 

Indeed, a recent Page One Napster piece in the New York Times -- not 
to mention a recent Fortune magazine feature, a Time story, a 
Newsweek business column and Salon's previous coverage of the Napster 
phenomenon -- contained no input from artists on how the 
revolutionary software might impact their livelihoods.  

Stone hopes to air their concerns with a new Artists Against Piracy 
ad campaign set to run on TV, radio and the Internet: "Artists don't 
want to get involved in the RIAA's dispute with Napster. They want to 
take the high road and say, if you care about us, and music is of 
value to you, then you shouldn't take it for free. It's stealing from 
artists, and that connection needs to be made."  

"It pisses me off and I resent it," says singer-songwriter Jonatha 
Brooke, when asked about Napster -- and she's no technophobe. Back in 
December 1998, when her "Jonatha Brooke Live" album was released 
exclusively online, Brooke became a pioneer among established acts 
who turned to the Web as a way to communicate directly with her 
audience as well as deliver new music to it. "It's a great way to 
access fans, to maintain that intimacy that you have on stage."  

But when she looks at Napster and the piracy it enables, Brooke sees 
only greed. "I spent $15,000 on my Web site. I paid a publicist for a 
year and a half out of my own pocket. And now some kid's going to 
tell me my catalog should be free? They're just entrepreneurs setting 
themselves up to make a ton of money off other people's work. Where's 
the compensation for the artists?"  

This is from an artist who bounced around the major label system, 
only to leave heartbroken by career promises that never materialized. 
(Brooke was half of the critically acclaimed folk-pop group The 
Story, which recorded for Elektra; she then released solo records on 
labels inside the Universal Records family.) In other words, she's 
the type of disillusioned performer Napster fans say should embrace 
the digital revolution.  


Others scratch their heads when they hear that Napster's defenders -- 
like the Students Against University Censorship, who protest campus 
restrictions on Napster use -- are adopting a free-speech argument. 
"It's pure fantasy," says Frank Breeden, president of the Gospel 
Music Association. "The First Amendment is not a right to do whatever 
you want in life. You don't have a right to come into my house and 
steal whatever you want."  


-------------------------------- CUT ------------------------------