Paul Cooke, Ben Ohmart and Kenny Love on MP3.com, Labels & the Future
MusicDish Writers Speak Out on the Issues
[Question] What do you think will be the impact of the court ruling that MP3.com willfully infringed on Universal Music's copyright?
[Kenny Love] While MP3.com has been found guilty in its initial
music distribution procedures, I would hope that
this situation can be worked out much better through
an appeal, than what is on the table at the moment.
If not, and MP3.com is forced into damage payout, I see
some dark days ahead for independent musicians in
regard to it...namely, either a newly structured
pricing scheme will be implemented by MP3 in an effort to
recoup a degree of its financial loss if it intends to
continue its existence, or worse, a complete shutdown
of this vital site.
[Paul Cooke] It [court ruling on MP3.com lawsuit] will allow mew media distributors to understand the nature of the beast,
ie: the entertainment industry distribution of product.
The mistakes MP3.com, Napster, Scour made was that they invariably attempted
to play the product distribution game utilizing a medium (Internet) that is
not about music distribution, it's about marketing. Secondly, it shows that
music distribution and CD-ROM's are a thing of the past and that new forms of
media like direct sharing are viable. Thirdly, why build a community to
effectively market free music and artists, and then embrace traditional
artists into the scheme of things? MP3.com should have marketed these
traditional artists only, and ploughed the money into direct file sharing
and built its community. At the end of the day, there will soon be 8 billion
users hooked up to mobile communications, downloading music at 1 cent a
go...why play games with the majors in-regards to re-distribution of product;
it doesn't make sense?
[Ben Ohmart] Eventually I can see everything to do with mp3s tightening up, but really only for the signed, high-profile artists. Compressed, Internet music files are too much of a marketing tool nowadays to be abolished at All. It will all depend on which corp. suits what to go with using mp3s still. But in time, all contracts will talk about licensing mp3s. In fact, MP3.com always makes newcomers sign an agreement about letting people download, so it will just take time to separate the hunger of new material from shoplifting.
[Question] Even if MP3.com survives the damages, Napster & Scour are quickly running out of capital due to legal fees (with investors staying away). Which companies do you think will take their place in leading the mp3 community with new technology or innovative services?
[Paul Cooke] I'm afraid most traditional major players have developed proprietary systems
and much work has gone into exploiting the WAP/mobile distribution of
content. This will be the new medium of distributing audio visual
product. If a 20 second clip of Britney's new video can be viewed within your
mobile and costs you 1 cent to view it, why log on? If the same song can
purchased via the mobile device, who needs a PC and what is the Internet
going to be used for? Effective marketing of course...
[Ben Ohmart] MP3.com will stay around because it's got some big time blood behind it, like Alanis. AMP3.com, IUMA.com and a few others look good because they cater mostly to new artists. Even if the mp3 dies someday, another, perhaps smaller, music file will take it's place. Online music is here to stay, and even the rich guys know that.
[Kenny Love] While I can't provide any particular "names" that might replace MP3, I am aware that there are already a number of similarly structured organizations that have
utilized the current unfortunate legal situation of MP3 as a benchmark
for fine-tuning their own future legal aspects, especially, in
terms of meticulously insuring the copyright aspect of their
organizations are covered. I base this summation on the recent agreements the RIAA
has begun (and continues) to implement with various
organizations, within just the last several weeks.