All the publicity surrounding the lawsuits against software company Napster by Dr. Dre and Metallica could give you a misleading impression about the state of music on the Net.
All the publicity surrounding the lawsuits against software company
Napster by Dr. Dre and Metallica could give you a misleading impression
about the state of music on the Net.
Napster, of course, is the company that makes the software of the same
name that lets people find and copy music tracks over the Internet. And
even six months ago, it was about all you could do to get a record
company exec to say ’download’ through gritted teeth. Like Metallica
before him, rapper Dr. Dre recently submitted a monstrous list of
Napster users to the software company, alleging that all of them had
illegally made his songs available for free online, and demanding that
Napster block these people from its service. Now, despite all the
lawsuits, things are changing.
Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group announced a
partnership in May to try out a subscription-based Internet music
distribution service, close on the heels of news from the other big
music conglomerate, BMG, that it will be offering music to be
And now that the majors are at last getting it, everybody else wants in.
Even MP3.com’s Michael Robertson has changed his tune. He’s now saying
that his company’s core business is the lawful and licensed distribution
While the major record companies are catching up and the rhetoric is
changing, music PR is also becoming more Net-sophisticated. Take the
LA-based pop band Supreme Beings of Leisure, which is claiming great
success for what it calls the first virtual Internet music ’tour.’ This
involved organizing or taking part in various events on different
music-related Web sites in early May, ranging from live chat sessions to
performances on Internet radio stations and the premiere of the band’s
new video on Shockwave.com. And of course, it was all linked back to the
band’s own site (www.sbleisure.com), where the album was sold.
None of it, of course, is anything that hadn’t been done before. But
give credit to the Supreme Beings and their record label for coming up
with a novel packaging that succeeded in getting more attention than all
that promotional activity would otherwise have received.
With all the lawsuit publicity surrounding Napster, what better way to
get attention than to get the company to sponsor your tour? That’s
exactly what the group Limp Bizkit has done. The tour, which will also
include Cypress Hill, kicks off on July 4th, and naturally, the concerts
will be free.
’We could care less about the older generation’s need to do business as
usual,’ says Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst. ’We care more about what
our fans want, and our fans want music on the Internet.’ And that’s
exactly what Limp’s 16-to-20-year-old constituency wants to hear. Not
that the band will lose any money: Napster is reportedly shelling out
dollars 2 million to cover the costs of the tour.
The music business has at last realized that people want music on the
Internet. And if the record companies are not giving it to them,
somebody else will. That’s why, despite all the lawsuits, they have
turned from a defensive, protective posture to aggressively securing
online distribution - and finding as many ways as they can to get people
to pay for what they listen to.