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March Madness in April? Napster & RIAA Continue to Duke it Out!
Artists and Labels: Place Your Bets...
By Heather Johnson
(more articles from this author)
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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 RIAA.

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 day."

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 system.

"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 Club Network.

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 to stream the band's music video on-demand, find more information on Skindive and register to win a SONY 35" television.

"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.


AOL Time Warner -
Bertelsmann -
Burly Bear -
Digital Club Network -
Dispatch -
MusicNet -
Napster -
Palm Pictures -
RealNetworks -
Skindive -
StarPolish -
Tonos -

Related MusicDish e-Journal Articles:
» The New World - While Napster May Disappear, File-Sharing Will Live On... (2001-03-25)
» An Open Letter on Napster from an Independent Artist - It's not just record labels and big-name artists getting hurt! (2001-03-14)
» Guilt-Free File Sharing - Legitimate Music Services Offer Alternative to Napster (2001-03-12)
» Judge's Ruling Furthers Marriage of Napster and the Recording Industry - If Digital Music is the Drug and Napster the Needle, Then Who's the Pusher? (2001-03-06)
» Napster Extends a $1 Billion Olive Branch - The Industry Reacts - And Other Emanations from the Napster Decision... (2001-02-22)
» The Napster Decision: Where do we go from here? - Alternatives to Napster - Friends of Napster - Enemies of Napster (2001-02-15)
» Wanted: A Survival Plan for the Music Industry - Napster and the Consequences - Chapter 5: Five hypotheses (2001-02-13)
» Napster Takes a Blow, But Problems Still Loom for the Recording Industry (2001-02-12)
» RIAA V. Napster: Sympathy for Which Devil? - Introduction (2001-02-08)

Related News from Mi2N:
» AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann, Emi And Realnetworks Create New Platform For Online Music Subscription Services
» Dispatch To Perform At Napster Goes To Washington Concert
» Statement Of Hank Barry In Response To RIAA's March 27 Filing
» Napster Offers Enhanced Resources For New Artists Through Starpolish And Tonos
» Napster's Compliance Report

Home » News Beat » March Madness in April? Napster & RIAA Continue to Duke it Out!
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