ANALYSIS: Weekly Web Watch - Napster and friends are fending off bad PR with good vibrations

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.

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

downloaded.



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

of music.



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.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in