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Ask a Music Producer/Publicist About Filesharing and the RIAA 371

Bill Evans is one of those people in the music business who doesn't get a lot of public exposure, but keeps the wheels cranking behind the scenes. He's not just a musician and techie, but a publicist whose clients include Numavox Records artists Kerry Livgren and Michael Gleason as well as progressive rocker Neal Morse; he's produced (among many others) songs for the Burning Annie soundtrack and the Kansas Tribute Project. Naturally, since he makes his living in the music business, Bill is not 100% in favor of unrestricted filesharing. But what might work? And what might not? Let's find out what this music biz insider thinks -- one question per post, of course. Answers to the "Top 10" questions will be published soon after he gets them back to us.
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Ask a Music Producer/Publicist About Filesharing and the RIAA

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  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) * on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:01PM (#6723010) Homepage Journal
    What do you see as the most promising means of maintaining the commercial tie between artist and audience, but in different form than today's "stone tablet", whereby a song or album is burned onto a CD with copy protection? What about enhancing other revenue streams, like fan clubs, for example?
    • by Atario ( 673917 )

      Weren't concerts (i.e., in-person performances by the artists, whether stadiums or drawing rooms) the primary moneymaker for musicians in the past? Why not consider recordings to be a form of advertising for the concerts? Won't more people be willing to pay more money to see a concert if they have found they like the music they've listened to from that artist? And if that advertising comes at no cost to the artist/record company/whoever, as it is with P2P, isn't that all the better?

      • It's true (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Transient0 ( 175617 )
        Concerts were once the primary source of revenue for musicians and going further back in the past, public performances (or patrons) were the ONLY source of revenue for musicians. The thing which changed that was the existence of an infrastructure which allowed for music from any given place to be marketed simultaneously worldwide.

        That being the case, here is my question:

        "Do you think that there is any creedence to the argument that today's multi-billion dollar entertainment industry is an un-natural and p
  • marketing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cybercuzco ( 100904 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:02PM (#6723022) Homepage Journal
    Have you or anyone you know done any studies of the marketing effect of free music sharing? That is, how much has the free marketing that is a result of filesharing offsetting the potential lost sales?
    • Re:marketing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Given that one of the largest chunks of the fee one pays for a CD goes to the "distribution" cost, one would think it would be a " win win " for both the artist and the consumer if that cost could simply be eliminated through electronic distribution. That's lower cost for the consumer + lower overhead for the publisher. What's your take on that?
    • Re:marketing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by macdaddy357 ( 582412 ) <> on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:37PM (#6725413)
      While Napster was online, CD sales were up. This is beyond dispute. People heard songs they liked, then went out and bought recordings, much like radio in its glory days. Best of all, Napster was a free promotion. No one had to cough up any payola [] to get songs listed there. Now, the recording industry has millions so angry that they don't buy CDs. [] So, why did your industry kill the goose that laid the golden eggs? Are you stupid?
  • how much (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tirel ( 692085 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:03PM (#6723028)
    percent does the recording company take from sales profits?

    do you think there's a future in online self-publishing?
    • Re:how much (Score:3, Informative)

      by BrynM ( 217883 ) *
      "how much percent does the recording company take from sales profits?"
      That's actually determined contract by contract and is a question of how much of a percentage the artist gets (the royalty). The artist portion is usually small (usually 7% to 15% of the final sale margin - 15% being estabalished superstar status).
  • by smd4985 ( 203677 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:04PM (#6723038) Homepage
    "Naturally, since he makes his living in the music business, Bill is not 100% in favor of unrestricted filesharing."

    Is it really the case that making a living in the music business rules out unrestricted filesharing? Might not there exist alternate business models that are fair to the artist and the consumer? What about producing music makes it necessary that selling the music needs to be the primary money-maker?
    • by homer_ca ( 144738 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:49PM (#6723442)
      Jewel made a comment about this on Loveline a few months ago. She didn't complain about downloading, but did say that since it cuts in to album sales, her fans shouldn't begrudge her for finding other ways to make money like licensing songs for commercials. Now talk about mixed feelings, I've seen plenty of songs ruined forever by annoying commercials, but IMHO doing an anti-filesharing public service announcement makes you an even bigger sellout than doing commercials.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:04PM (#6723039)
    Have you ever/do you often use a P2P file sharing client, and what do you think of it?
  • Where do you think we might have been now had the music labels come up with legal online song swapping? Do you think we would have ever heard of Napster?
  • The concept of copyright was concieved of way back in "ye olden days" to restrict who could and could not print books; it also conveniently allowed an author to control who profits from their works. We adapted the second cause here in the USA, and have since extended copyright to just about any form of creative expression.

    But, copyright is still a control of making a copy, which is getting to be almost farcical in a world where most creative output can be easily and near-freely copied.

    Do you think that it would be a good idea to alter copyright so that, instead of selling pubslihers a right to copy works, artists sell consumers the right to have a copy of a work, however that they want to get it and however many redundant copies they want?

    (Let's just ignore the privacy and feasability problems for the moment; statistics and security can probably fix them to be "good enough.")
    • Changing copyright is exactly what these large companies are trying to do through lobbying, petitioning and legal action. They just don't have any of the comsumer's interest in mind while they are doing it.
  • Suing listeners? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by miroth ( 611718 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:07PM (#6723060)
    Do you think anything productive can emerge from the RIAA suing its user base? Do you think it will actually result in people listening to more music legally?
    • by moncyb ( 456490 )

      What about the innocent people? Do you feel it is acceptable for the RIAA to spam the internet with tonnes of DMCA complaints, knowing full well a significant amount of these are false and may lead to the loss of internet access and business of innocent people?

      Their bots cast a wide net. Any file which has a word containing the same word as a RIAA member's song or artist name has a significant risk of getting a DMCA complaint. How is this fair? How can this be considered acceptable? You don't see retail s

  • The RIAA's claims (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mydigitalself ( 472203 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:08PM (#6723070)
    The RIAA continue to claim that file sharing is impacting CD sales. They do this by showing the decline of CD sales in recent years. I found some interesting quotes from an article recently:
    According to the RIAA, CD sales dropped by 10% in 2001 and a further 6.8% last year, largely because of file sharing.

    The IFPI's Commercial Music Piracy 2003 report, produced in early July, reveals pirate CD sales rose 14% in 2002 and exceeded one billion units for the first time.

    My maths therefore concludes that if you deducted the 14% piracy, then CD sales have actually RISEN by around 7% over the last year! Do the RIAA actually know why their figures are falling (pirate cds/crap music...) - or do they choose to blame it all on peer to peer networks?
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:18PM (#6723181) Homepage
      My maths therefore concludes that if you deducted the 14% piracy, then CD sales have actually RISEN by around 7% over the last year! Do the RIAA actually know why their figures are falling (pirate cds/crap music...) - or do they choose to blame it all on peer to peer networks?

      Of course pirate CDs increase the total *volume* of music around - do you really think people could afford the kazillions of dollars of "free" mp3s (or at a fraction of the cost at a pirate shop) at retail price? Their argument is that pirate sales (which earn neither them nor the artist anything) are replacing normal CD sales, thus lowering their profits.

    • Re:The RIAA's claims (Score:4, Informative)

      by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:21PM (#6723213)
      My maths therefore concludes that if you deducted the 14% piracy, then CD sales have actually RISEN by around 7% over the last year!

      Your maths are wrong (unless you're basing it on more numbers than you're presenting here.) You're trying to equate [percentage of CD sales] with [percentage of pirate CD sales], two values which aren't equivalent. Trying to add/subtract them like you're doing just leads to nonsense statistics (in this case, the "actually risen by 7% number.")
    • Re:The RIAA's claims (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tropator ( 548577 )
      Maybe this article [] is worth mentioning (quote):

      Record sales for 'cheap' albums

      A record number of albums were sold in the UK in the last year because they are now cheaper than ever, industry figures have revealed.

      More than 228 million albums were sold in the 12 months from June 2002 - up 3% on the previous year - according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

      Declining record sales huh, where?
    • The usually quoted article [] about the record industry's stats show they've reduced the number of new releases substantially, and only suffered slightly on revenues in the process. Add the sagging economy and the shifting tastes of their primary market (more interest in gaming, CD cost vs. DVD), and their apparent problems are almost entirely of their own making. The industry's focus on heavy marketing of a handful of artists causes problems when the teens lose interest, i.e. boy bands and This Month's Cute
    • The absolutely most funny point of Pirate CD's or illegal Bootlegs that you can find in some specalty shops. are the best sellers. not beause they are cheaper, but because the Rabid fans specifically seek out this stuff. Many time the illigit CD's are more expensive and bear an "import" sticker. Like my copy of radiohead's concert in Toyko Japan, that is recorded damn well as live albums go.

      The record companies are missing the boat completely from the P2P sharing that is making a very minimal impact on th
  • How about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nizo ( 81281 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:10PM (#6723085) Homepage Journal
    Do you feel threatened by a technology that would allow artists to sell their music directly to consumers and potentially make your job and many other such jobs obsolete, saving said consumers quite a bit of $$$ as well as paying said artists quite a bit of extra $$$ and allowing these artists to retain full rights to their own creations?
    • He shouldn't (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jcsehak ( 559709 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:36PM (#6723331) Homepage
      Many musicians don't even know how to check their email, much less run Pro Tools. Also, as a producer, his job can't be replaced by a computer. To get a good sound, you still have to use a good studio and hire trained engineers.

      Then, after the CD is finished, you can try to use technology to bypass traditional marketing, but right now, it's a joke. Selling your music directly isn't a problem for anyone. Marketing your music, that's the rub. Fancy as the internet is, the most effective way to sell music is to force-feed it to the people directly, through radio and MTV. That's not gonna change for a long time.
      • Re:He shouldn't (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TabsAZ ( 697633 )
        Saying that getting a good recorded sound requires hundreds of thousands of dollars in a huge studio and a team of engineers is completely false. I have heard full albums produced in a bedroom using Pro Tools on a normal PC or Mac that easily rival major studio quality. The way that home recording technology is progressing, the major studio is going to be made almost completely obsolete. Check out someone like BT (he makes a kind of progressive electronic style of music) - his albums are 100% recorded, e
    • by GunFodder ( 208805 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:46PM (#6723412)
      It seems like the major role of a record company is to find artists, promote their music, and produce and distribute albums. Advances in home studio technology and the increasing popularity and bandwidth of the Internet mean that it is possible for an artist to self produce and promote their music.

      Do you think that it is likely that we will see a major artist go this route in the near future? And if this became a viable model what could record companies do to continue to add value to music?
  • Share! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <(ten.remlaPyrogerGniloC) (ta) (PGC)> on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:10PM (#6723087) Homepage
    What's your username on Kazaa?
  • Subscription models (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mydigitalself ( 472203 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:11PM (#6723102)
    If there was a mechanism to subscribe to music for a flat monthly rate, how do you think this would work along the lines of:

    1) Who would you subscribe to? Would you have to subscribe to EMI/BMG/Sony one-by-one, or would there be a number (or one?) blanket subscription for varying genres or labels?
    2) How would money be disitributed? By the number of times tracks have been listened to/downloaded?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:12PM (#6723116)
    So many people outside the RIAA have a negative opinion of the RIAA, primarily because of its stance against file sharing and certainly as a result of its tactics to discourage filesharing. As someone on the inside of the music industry, what is your opinion of the RIAA? Is it a necessary evil that really does help artists? What do you think of its tactics with regards to filesharing?
  • RIAA logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tet ( 2721 ) * <slashdot AT astradyne DOT co DOT uk> on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:13PM (#6723124) Homepage Journal
    With album sales reaching an all time high [] (at least here in the UK -- I assume the US is similar), why does the RIAA keep insisting that online music is killing the industry? I personally download music from the net as a taster to see which CDs I should buy. I appreciate that there are some who do it purely to avoid having to spend the money, but the evidence seems to show that it's not a big enough problem to be hurting the industry. Do you think that this situation will continue, or will the balance swing towards more people avoiding buying music that they can download for free?
    • Re:RIAA logic (Score:3, Interesting)

      by greenius ( 300851 )
      Same story also reported on BBC News []

      This seems to support the view that declining sales may be due more to the high costs of CDs than to file sharing... ie. lower the price and sales go up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:13PM (#6723125)
    isn't that like asking Sauron about his feelings on freedom in Middle Earth?
  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:14PM (#6723137) Homepage Journal
    No, really, it's a serious business question.

    -- Bill Gates
  • old vs new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by koekepeer ( 197127 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:15PM (#6723153)
    People tend to complain a lot about the profit margins in the music industry, and use this as an argument to not buy CD's but download them. Furthermore, a lot of people complain that copying their collection is just fair use, and they feel restricted in their rights by the recent developments in DRM. Without the music industry however we wouldn't have CDs to rip, or DRM protected tracks to download ;)

    We (consumer and industry) obviously need each other.

    So my question is:
    Can you think of (a) profitable business model(s) that would *not* use DRM?
  • by stames ( 692349 ) <`jtj' `at' `'> on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:16PM (#6723155)
    I'm a big advocate of the prosperity of music artists, especially small-time ones. I go to a lot of concerts. I like to buy indie music direct from the band. I generally try to avoid buying music from big-name production houses because I'm sick of all the gratuitous and pervasive advertisements and endorsements that come along with it.

    That being said, my question is (and I hope you can even answer this): when I lay down my $15 for a CD, where does that money go? How much goes directly to the artist? The producers? Publicists and people in your position? Record company CEOs? Charities? Etc etc.

    Basically I'm concerned that if I fork over $15 because I really like the music, I think that a big portion of that should go directly to the artists themselves, but in reality $14.95 is ending up making CEOs wallets fatter.

  • Reform (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:16PM (#6723164) Homepage
    Does the music industry need some type of reform, especially in the area of contracts and artist rights?
  • by smack.addict ( 116174 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:17PM (#6723169)
    I have always felt that the piracy argument is really a red herring for the record companies. What I believe they really fear from online distribution of music is losing control over the marketing of new music. In other words, under the current model in which there are few channels for large-scale exposure to new music, a record company can concentrate their marketing dollars on a few key artists.

    Online distribution undermines this model and forces the record companies to spend more marketing dollars as a percentage of revenue. The success of iTunes seems to support this. While it is successful in terms of the # of songs sold, no handful of artists dominates its sales as with traditional channels.

    So my question comes in a couple of parts. First, is all of this stuttering towards an online distribution system really more about control? If so, given that the iTunes experiment seems to bear out the thesis that online distribution costs them in control, how will we ever get to online music distribution that is equitable for everyone involved instead of one weighted towards big record companies or towards music pirates?

  • by Choco-man ( 256940 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:17PM (#6723175)
    Why does the entertainment industry seemingly ignore large scale pirates who are making money off of selling copies and obviously detracting from sales, and instead target hoards of college kids who have no money to pay the court costs/settlement, and are not profiting at your industries expense? Don't such actions largely result in a bitter taste in your consumers mouth, leaving them less inclined to either halt actions which the industry deems inappropriate, or less apt to embrace alternative solutions put forth by the industry?
  • Ultimate game plan? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:18PM (#6723184) Journal
    How does the music industry intend on ultimately dealing with music theft? Are you relying on the prolonged use of litigation against individual thieves to spread fear through the general populace, or do you intend on lobbying for legislation that will aid you in your fight against the thieves?
  • P2P vs. Radio (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CashCarSTAR ( 548853 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:19PM (#6723190)
    Considering the consolidations in the radio industry, and the hostility against webradio, People such as myself find no place other than P2P to turn to for new music. In your mind, what is the best potential copyright-friendly solution to the problem of a lack of venues for new (and classic) music exploration?
  • the future (Score:5, Interesting)

    by McAddress ( 673660 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:20PM (#6723206)
    Do services such as the iTunes Music Store [], Buy Music [] really represent the future of music like Steve Jobs and Scott Blum would like us to believe, or are they just another way to deliver music along with CD's, cassetes, and the radio?
  • If I download an mp3 off a file-sharing network, that's stealing. Because I'm not going to buy the album now, and that's a tangible loss of revenue for the record label. Lost revenue = stealing.

    But what if I had no intention of ever buying the album. In other words, the probablity of revenue from me from that album was exactly zero. Then I download the tracks off kazaa. How am I hurting the label? How am I stealing?

    The labels imply that the Opportunity Cost of an "illegal" download is buying the album. Wh
  • Financial Impact? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gothic_Walrus ( 692125 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:21PM (#6723211) Journal
    It has oftentimes been claimed by the RIAA that the sharing of MP3s online has led to a decline in CD sales. Others have claimed that the decline is due to the practice of pirating CDs or the lack of "good" music. In any case, all have agreed that sales of CDs have fallen.

    In your opinion, what do you feel has caused the greatest financial impact to the music industry? If the answer is not "file sharing," then what is the industry doing to combat the problem?

  • Options (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:22PM (#6723215) Journal
    I doubt you agree with those who find Copyright basically amoral, but how do you feel about developing new business models instead of bullheadedly sticking to the old ones(as the music industry seems to be doing). Once the movie industry angrily fought the video recorder (the US supreme court almost outlawed it), then someone woke up and started selling prerecorded tapes and the industry made a bundle. Now we can see, in Europe at least, the the music industry is making a fortune selling ringtones to mobile phones (in Europe you pay to call someone, not to recieve a call so just about everybody from 7 to 90 has one) - Spock believes there are always possiblities - do you agree?
  • do you think that the music/movie industry will ever be able to stop the digital piracy of their content?

    If so, how? If not then how will they survive as online trading becomes more prolific.

  • 1. Who determines the value of each 'pirated' work?

    2. Doesn't anyon realized that allowing people to listen to tracks of music they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to *prior to purchase* is a good thing and will actually lead to increased sales?

    3. Has anyone discussed the idea of dropping prices of CDs in hopes of curtailing the 'rampant level of piracy'?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:24PM (#6723239)
    I joined the Apple Music Store. I presently possess about a hundred or so .MP3 files downloaded from Napster/AudioGalaxy/Kazaa/Limewire.

    I decided to see how many of these files were available legally from the Apple store, out of at least two motives: curiosity about the effectiveness of corporate-driven, rather than fan-driven music distribution, and a genuine intention of replacing my unpaid-for files with paid-for versions.

    It turns out that almost none of the files I'd downloaded were available through the Music Store.

    The reason is simple. I am interested in all sorts of old stuff (20's, 30's, 40's, 50's) and weird stuff (novelty records, things like Bernard Cribbins 'Ole in the Ground, etc.)

    When fans share files, it makes available almost the entire history of recorded music.

    When music companies sell files, the range of what's available is much, much smaller. For example, when it comes to popular music of the fifties, most of what's available on the Apple site comes from one companies single series of CD's entitled "so-and-so's 16 most requested songs."

    How do you set up a fair system that pays artists but still allows for the continued preservation and availability of items that are so old or unpopular that their commercial value is very, very small?

    How can you avoid the "dog-in-the-manger" phenomenon of companies that will neither make material available nor give permission to others to make them available?
  • iTunes vs. BuyMusic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mblase ( 200735 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:24PM (#6723242)
    The iTunes Music Store has what's generally considered the most sensible approach to DRM: share with no more than three computers on the same subnet, burn to no more than 10 CDs without changing your playlist, and make this apply to every downloadable song. In contrast, has much more restrictive DRM and they change with every song. In your opinion, do either of these stores have DRM "done right"?
    • Sorry for the all caps, but this boils my blood. Only allowing you to burn 10 cds with the same playlist is reprehensible. There are PLENTY of valid reasons for burning more than 10 of the same CD. For instance, I just recently burned about 15 cds of a recording I made of a guitar workshop, to share with the other participants. I'm sure glad I used toast on my OS9 machine instead of trying the use iTunes.

      Granted, like I said, I haven't used iTunes to burn. So if this applies ONLY to CDs with iTMS songs o
  • by GreenCrackBaby ( 203293 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:24PM (#6723245) Homepage
    I have a friend who also has his own music studio and has worked with some pretty amazing talent. In talking about the current state of the music industry, he has two interesting observations:

    1. The music industry is impacted negatively by file sharing, at least at some level.

    2. That his studio is most certainly not harmed by filesharing, but in fact is seeing a rather large increase in business as more bands try to get a decent polish on their work so they can get their MP3s out there.

    Do you think this is just annecdotal, or true for most music studios?
  • Record CD sales? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by perly-king-69 ( 580000 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:26PM (#6723265)

    Here in the UK that CD album sales are at an all time high with a 12% rise in sales this year.

    Would you like to comment on that, given that

    i) there are no similar RIAA anti-piracy actions being taken here,

    ii) average prices have fallen to below the psychologically important 10 barrier?

  • Transfer of rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcsehak ( 559709 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:26PM (#6723267) Homepage
    Right now, it's commonplace that a person or entity can own the rights to a song, even though they took no part in its creation (Michael Jackson owning the Beatles songs, Columbia owning Robert Johnson's tracks, etc.). Is there a good reason why the music community stands for this, because I can't think of one.

    Wouldn't it be better for all music creators if an artist got 100% of the song rights, and split the recording rights with the label, 50/50; and this was mandated by law, and couldn't be signed away? Am I missing something? I would think that artists would be banding together in droves for this cause.
  • by hardaker ( 32597 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:27PM (#6723278) Homepage
    One of the things that major media distribution companies (including music, video, games, etc) argue is that the only reason the prices are so high on media is that piracy of their product makes the prices go up. Many, however, are not convienced of this argument and think the prices would likely stay the same and the profits of the company would be the only thing affected (which is what I think annoys most of the users of the world: that the cost is so high when production costs are so low). Do you have a feel for whether on at least whether the music industry really would lower the prices on all its media if the piracy came to a sudden end, or do you think the prices would just stay the same?
  • What of the possibility of music downloads based on quality? I offer as a suggestion that if someone wants to purchase, for instance, a FLAC copy of a song, in lossless compression, at say, 80 cents per song [ making most average albums at around 8-10 dollars, a price point that has worked well to stimulate demand in the past ]... but someone else might only want an OGG or MP3 in a lesser quality [ lossy compression = lower quality! ], at perhaps say, 192 bitrate, for approximately 40 cents a track. If we'r
  • Your new roles (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) * <> on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:33PM (#6723318) Journal
    As a producer, I'm guessing you use p2p to nab some songs that may be in the back or your head and that you would like to duplicate the 'feel' of aspects of a certain producer's style. How has p2p affected your production style? Has it helped solidify ideas, or bogged you down with distractions?


    I am currently in the process of removing my music from [], who acquired it and is selling it illegally. What resources do independent artists have when fighting against the very industry that professes to protect musicians? Is copyright infrigement a one way street leading straight to the bank for large companies?

    As a publicist, do you see distribution via p2p as a growing trend for your more/less established artists? I notice that the link to Neil's site only provides small samples of music. Do you encourage making entire songs available at low bitrate samples? Does p2p make this a moot point?

  • With the RIAA's heavy-handed behavior and random lawsuits, a lot of people who engage in music swapping tend to take on a Robin Hood/Boston Tea Party philosophy about what they're doing. They take from the rich, and give to the poor - and don't feel bad about it either since everyone knows that the artists make about a nickel of that $13 you shell out for a CD, and the RIAA uses the rest to line their pockets, maintain their near-monopoly, hire lawyers and lobby congress.

    So as a possible remedy, do you t

  • by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:35PM (#6723330) Homepage
    Alternatives to file sharing such as the subscription based Rhapsody and non subscription based I-Tunes are offering quality music for an almost reasonable fee and artists receive royalties. Why is it that some of the biggest names in music who, by definition are hit the hardest by file sharing, won't allow their music to be available via these new distribution methods?
  • Do you believe that the recent lobbying efforts by the music industry are (1) an honest attempt to stop what they believe is only a criminal action or (2) an anti-capitalistic market intervention, designed to prevent competitors from entering into the online-music market before they exist? If (1), how do you believe the industry would respond to legislation which required (a) open content formats; and (b) guaranteed full-quality fair-use personal copies; if (2), how do you explain this dichotomy, and why sh
  • 'Fair use' rights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by llamaluvr ( 575102 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:36PM (#6723340) Journal
    What exactly are our rights when we purchase a CD? Can I make unlimited backup copies of the media for personal use? Are the copies really allowed to be digital, or only analog? Am I allowed to be using the original and the backup at the same time?

    This hypothetical situation has always bugged me: Say I purchase a CD, rip it to my hard drive, and then put it on my MP3 player. I take the MP3 player with me and listen to that music in the car, while (unbeknownst to me) my brother listens to the copy of the music on the computer. Are we breaking the law?
  • by thnmnt ( 62145 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:37PM (#6723350)
    With all the attention DVD's have been getting lately (for instance [])and the main cause of their sales boom being pricing (20$ and under) - don't you think that the CD industry could save itself simply by lowering the cost of CD's to say - 5-7$ like vinyl used to be?

  • by pfankus ( 535004 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:38PM (#6723355) Homepage
    I'm a music graduate student, and many of my collegues are aspiring musicians in both traditional (classical), jazz, and popular music. Many of them are torn between unrestricted filesharing and protecting their music and future incomes, on the verge of signing to a major label. How do you propose that musicians are mass-marketed (e.g. the only real reason any sane musician signs to a major) if the revenue stream of the labels is purportedly dwindling due to unrestricted filesharing?
  • I'm past giving a damn what anybody in the industry thinks about anything. While artists / labels etc.. continue to work with the RIAA members I will not be buying their product.

    I'm not really into downloading music, but the stand the RIAA has taken along with their "We don't really care what our customers think" attitude really p**sed me off. If they don't care what I think then I don't care to buy their product.

    I'll listen to the radio until they find a way to shut that down too (or make people pay t
  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:38PM (#6723359) Homepage
    It has been said [] that organized crime is responsible for the sale and distribution of billions of dollars worth of pirated (i.e. hard copy) music CDs worldwide. This begs two questions:

    1- Why is the music industry focusing prosecution efforts on poor individual college students who are (a) difficult to track down and (b) not making any money on their endeavors when there are large organizations which are (a) centralized, so stopping them might do some good, and (b) profiting from their activities?

    2- If free file swapping is so damaging to music CD sales, then why aren't mafia types trying to stop this phenomenon as well, given they have so much to lose?

  • Question: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spytap ( 143526 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:38PM (#6723360)
    As technology progresses, means of distribution and advertising also progress. As radio becomes obsolete (as much due to it's own decisions as technological progression), many would argue that File Sharing is not only an easier method of advertising, but potentially a much broader method as well. Coming from a person with 1200 MP3s (of which all are legal and a good half are owned because I originally downloaded a song that I liked) I personally prefer an open plethora of files to a closed Clearchannel fest of the same 40 songs over and over again. What would you say has to change if P2P and file sharing are to become a possible market for advertising and marketing music?
  • cost v sell (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 514x0r ( 691137 )
    why is it that, though a CD costs far less to produce than a cassette tape as is evident by the cost of the blank media, CDs retail for far higher than cassette tapes?

    same question for DVDs.
  • Do you think filesharing of singles might actually be keeping album sales going, given that the singles market - basically there to promote albums - was moribund even before MP3? UK CD sales are currently at their highest EVER.
  • There are so many individuals on filesharing systems who are not intending on buying a CD in the first place, whose revenue is not being lost, who are convinced by listening to a non-radio friendly music clip, intentionally set out to buy the CD which contains that song. Case in point, I would never have bought a Slipknot CD had I not heard them on Napster, because they were not played on the radio at all. Is there a chance the RIAA will cave to allow people to at least listen to 5 minutes of every album?
  • by aug24 ( 38229 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:43PM (#6723398) Homepage
    Over here in the UK, the Brits are file-sharing just as much as the USA. However, a cut of about a third in the price of a CD has produced the biggest year's sales of CDs ever. []

    I think that this disproves the allegation that swapping is killing music and that the real culprit is a CD price that has stayed high while production costs have gone through the floor. Do you agree? If not, why not?


  • With the ability for an artist to freely and globally distibute their music sans label involvement, do you see the current RIAA becomming obsolete in the future?

  • wait (Score:3, Informative)

    by happystink ( 204158 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:52PM (#6723479)
    This guy is the publicist for ... Numavox Records, Neal Morse and the Burning Annie soundtrack, and he qualifies as an insider? Has anyone here ever heard of any of these people/projects? I'm not saying this guy sucks or anything, but what distinguishes him from the average slashdot reader, he's just some guy with a not very important job who goes to university and likes Ogg Vorbis, what's the deal here?
    • Re:wait (Score:3, Informative)

      by dreamt ( 14798 )
      Well, actually, I was pleasantly shocked to see Neal, the former singer for Spock's Beard [] up on slashdot. (Listening to Snow [], Spock's last CD w/ Neal right now).

      While many never have heard of Spock's, they are pretty big in the Progressive Rock scene.

  • by Slashdolt ( 166321 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:56PM (#6723520)
    MP3's have been around for several years now, and yet, for the most part, you still can't purchase them anywhere. MP3 is the current defacto standard. To me, it doesn't make sense that we can easily buy a CD and rip it (unless it's a copy-proof CD) and make MP3's, and yet the music industry seems afraid to produce MP3's.

    Again, MP3 technology is not that new. I can recall using it at least as far back as 1997. 6 years have gone by. The consumers and the CD/DVD-players all want to have MP3's, and yet there is (for all intent and purpose) no way to buy them.

    As John Dvorak said in his PC Magazine column, around 1997, no one would want to buy 10 rock-a-billy CD's for $100, but there might be a market for one MP3 CD with 12 hours of rock-a-billy hits for $10-$20. Why hasn't this happened?
  • Post-RIAA world (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @12:56PM (#6723525)
    Seems to me that one way or another, the RIAA and content companies in their present form will die. Fans already know about P2P and file sharing, and that is not going to go away until the day they can implant restrictor chips in our heads, cripple every computer, and monitor every communication/sound wave on earth (READ: never).

    But your skills such as yours are valuable, and I don't see the need for them going away. However, instead of working for a record company in the future, I wonder if you won't work for musicians themselves in much the same way that a band probably currently hires an accountant, lawyer, or agent.

    Have you and your colleagues thought about this sort of scenario, and have any of you talked about forming an agency/consultancy in this way that would work for artists instead of the other way around?

    It seems to me that you folk have a golden opportunity to help artists avoid the tyranny of the record labels and capture the money that currently goes to Mottola and Rosen. It would also do the world a great service by putting the final nail in the coffin of the content companies, but that's only if you care about the rest of us.
  • Laws and tariffs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DragonMagic ( 170846 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:04PM (#6723623) Homepage
    The RIAA has pushed for legislation to grant them tariffs/taxes on sales of certain digital and recordable media sold to consumers, to defer some of the costs of piracy. They also have raised prices of materials such as CDs to help pay for losses they claim occur in the industry because of file sharing.

    My question is that why does the RIAA need more legislation to go after filesharers or pirates to stop losses that no independent auditing company has been able to find, and with all the income they're getting from DAT and CD-R Music blanks, and lawsuits against filesharers, pirates and bootleggers, how much of this goes back to the artists, producers, engineers, etc? instead of simply in the RIAA and its labels' pockets?

    And on a side note, why should the US or any other country continue listening to the RIAA talk about its losses, when no independent label or artist or distribution channel are getting any of these taxes or tariffs? Shouldn't we also be giving money to these labels, or should we start repealing these one-sided decisions?
  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) * on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:07PM (#6723654) Homepage Journal
    This is something I've been thinking about since Metallica sued Napster: what about treating file-sharing like radio?

    When a radio station plays a song, it pays one of the agencies like ASCAP (forgive me if I've got it wrong; it's been a while since I was a musician), and at least in theory the writer of the song (usually the musician) gets a small royalty assuming they've set up a publishing company to collect those royalties. From what I've heard, this can end up being a significant part of a musician's income. As I understand it, there are problems with tracking radio play -- you can't listen to everything at once, so you depend on random sampling and reports from radio stations -- but the idea is good.

    So how about treating filesharing the same way? Track which files go where; every time a Metallica song, say, is copied, Metallica gets a nickel. It might not be as practical now that there's not One Big Place (Napster) where everyone goes, but there are still lots of centralized file-trading services (I think Kazaa and the like apply...I haven't been into this for a long time) where copying could be tracked. The services get charged based on volume, presumably like radio stations are, and they can pass those charges on to subscribers or advertisers. Musicians get paid, people get music, and a new millenium of peace and happiness dawns upon the earth. :-)

    Is this a good idea, or have I taken some massive, secret dose of crack somewhere along the way?

  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:07PM (#6723659) Journal
    Why don't we have some type of Radio-On-Demand service yet, where music could be "performed" rather than downloaded, preferrably without the same legal and monetary overhead that comes with permanant downloads? This type of thing seems to work fine on much more technically-intense "On Demand" cable movies. It seems like something that BMI and ASCAP would embrace.... Instead, all we get are classic-radio-stlye streams (which the licensing agencies easily cover). Wouldn't micropayments (as currently defined) easily cover the cost of transimssion and performance, as well as provide an industry alternative for all the R&D money that's getting wasted allowing permanant copies of DRM-protected media?
  • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:10PM (#6723680) Homepage
    Many people have said that since the cat is now out of the bag with P2P usage that the labels need to use them to their advantage instead of fighting them. What do you think about the use of P2P as a free form of advertising? Is technology and society at the point where people will no longer pay for their music? Should mp3s and the like be used as promotional tools to try to get people to see concerts and buy other merchandise? Do you think this business model would have the same earning potential as the previous one of selling CDs?

  • Assuming the worst (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Teahouse ( 267087 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:21PM (#6723815)
    Assuming the worst, that RIAA sucessfully shuts down free filesharing networks and everything is pay to play, how would they provide hard to find or out of print selections? I am curious how they envision their library to work.

    Many of the items I have downloaded are old or obscure and do not fit in their libraries. There are many like me. Will they try to force us to only select the items they control, or have they addressed the issue of out of print/free stuff another way. A beer band in Cleveland may be the best thing going, but if they silence this band's offerings because they are not "signed with the label" they really are only forcing their control over what the listener can hear. They are offering a less robust product but charging more for it.

    Will there be any free venues available if RIAA wins?

  • by Dashing Leech ( 688077 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:22PM (#6723824)
    One of the best uses for file-sharing I've seen is finding and obtaining music that is difficult or impossible to get by any other means. This includes out of print music, rarities, and recorded radio bits. Though I can see some difficulty in developing a good and fair online system for new releases, I cannot see how the record companies or artists could lose anything by making out-of-print or rare recordings available online, even for a low price. Such a system could only generate new revenue.

    Do you see a reason why the record industry has not created such a system for older recordings from which they are no longer making money? Are there legal hurdles you are aware of, or is it simply that the record industry has not realized this potential is there?

  • by jackstand ( 75368 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:33PM (#6723960)
    What are your artists/musicians/clients are saying about online file-trading? Love it? Hate it? 50-50?

    Do you find that indie artists are more likely to embrace file trading for marketing/name-recognition purposes than well-known artists?
  • by MrResistor ( 120588 ) <> on Monday August 18, 2003 @01:53PM (#6724259) Homepage
    One of the lessons that seems to be "learned" time and again by the content industry is that the best way to combat piracy is to lower the price. For example: when I was a kid movies on VHS were fairly expensive ($60-80 IIRC), and everyone had at least a shelf full of movies they'd rented and copied, or taped off TV. Now that prices are reasonable ($10-15) nobody bothers to go to that trouble, and yet everyone I know still has at least a shelf full of movies, but now they're "origionals".

    So, how does the record industry justify the current price of CDs? Doesn't it seem obvious, given the lessons of history, that the inflated price is the root cause of piracy?

    I should note, perhaps, that I neither pirate nor buy CDs at this point. Why should I buy a CD when I can get a DVD of a major film, with all kinds of extras, for the same price? It seems to me that this has far more to do with the decline of CD sales than online filesharing.

    Finally, I understand that CD prices were supposed to have dropped as a result of the recent lawsuit, but I haven't seen a difference in either record stores or mail-order record clubs, such as Columbia House. In fact, the prices seem to have gone up slightly.

  • Singles vs Albums (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gregmac ( 629064 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @02:40PM (#6724822) Homepage
    One of the interesting aspect of downloadable music I've heard is the artists complaining that they want people to experience the full album, as a whole, while a lot of people only want to hear singles. I think there were even a couple bands that pulled their music off of iTunes because they didn't like people just getting the singles.

    What is your take on this situation? Should people be forced to buy a full album just to get one song (or ocasionally two) they like, or should they be buying the album with the theory that they liked the single, they'll like the rest?

    Has "the album" been ruined by the filler that so many of the top40 one-hit-wonder bands put on their albums? What needs to be done to make people willing to try entire albums (ratings, reccomendations, better music..)?

  • Worst case scenario (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ruin ( 141833 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @02:41PM (#6724834) Homepage

    Suppose the government declared that it would no longer protect copyrights on music. People begin using the internet to share music on a massive scale, all done legally.

    What you think are the negative consequences of this scenario? What would happen and what are all the ways in which it would be harmful?

  • by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @02:41PM (#6724837)
    Hi Bill.

    I have not purchased one single CD in over two years. Why? Because I am tired of spending $18 on a CD with only one good song and the rest disposable rubbish. I am tired of reading that the cost of CDs has fallen below $0.50 in the last twenty years while the retail price has not. I am not happy that the industry has been convicted of price-fixing by the federal government. I see no reason to support RIAA labels until the retail price of a CD is more realistic.

    I also do not participate in filesharing. Why? Because I am a working musician who believes that artists should be reimbursed for their hard work. My ethics don't agree with filesharing and they don't agree with the heavy handed tactics that the RIAA is raining down on filesharers.

    Do I have your attention? That means I do not fit the argument that the RIAA has attributed fallen CD sales to piracy. I am the exception and I am not alone.

    As a working musician, here is the root of the problem as I see it: musicians are being exploited and are being cheated out of their earnings through endentured slavery and corrupt accounting methods.

    As a business man, the other root of the problem is that the RIAA wants to perpetuate a business model that doomed to oblivion and refuses to embrace the internet as a distribution channel.

    Why? Bill, the major labels OWN the brick-and-mortar distribution channels, but they CAN'T own the internet distribution channel. It's not possible. They want a mafia-style death grip on their distribution and they would rather litigate and legislate away the "illegal" distribution channels on the internet.

    My question is: when are the members of the RIAA going to drop their self-defeating barratry and focus on offering quality product?

  • by Isaac-Lew ( 623 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @02:54PM (#6724970)
    Why doesn't the RIAA go after the person selling $5 bootleg CDs on the street? In my opinion, prosecuting the real criminals would make more sense than chasing college students/homemakers/etc who aren't making a profit. Why does the RIAA alienate their target audience?
  • Exposure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shiflett ( 151538 ) on Monday August 18, 2003 @03:19PM (#6725240) Homepage

    What are the major differences between radio and file sharing?

    If musical artists dream of getting played on the radio (because of the wonderful effects exposure has on an artist), why would an artist not also dream of having his/her songs being shared by millions of people around the world? Isn't the Internet just a vastly improved distribution and exposure mechanism?

    Would the same concerns arise if radio was able to achieve the same quality as MP3?

    To many of us, file sharing is more ethical than many traditional aspects of the music industry.

  • by weston ( 16146 ) <> on Monday August 18, 2003 @04:27PM (#6725942) Homepage
    I had the interesting experience a few months ago of trying to license performing rights for a song, and made the discovery that in general, artists aren't expected to do this -- just the venues where they will perform. It's my understanding that most publishers pay out performance royalties based on statistical sampling; if this is the case, isn't this just another part of the system where the lesser known artists are getting shafted? For example, Chris Ledoux apparently used to play a song by Corri Connors, an acquaintance of mine, which for the most part she received no performance royalties for, because it fell underneath the radar of a statistical sample. Is there a better way?

    This is relevant to recorded music as well; we know, for example, that we're already paying blank media taxes, whose proceeds are distributed in this way, and I think it's likely that schemes will be proposed for online distribution and peer-to-peer apps that mirror it.

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