Tuesday, July 18, 2000 by Dave Winer.
DJ Dave here, spinning em up. Listening to the Kinks. "Come dancing, all her boyfriends used to come and call, why not come dancing, it's only nat-u-ral."
The music industry waited too long. Looking for someone to blame. The courts so far have gone along, but you can still get all the music you want for free on the Internet.
This week Microsoft is working with EMI on a complicated scheme to get paid-for music on people's hard drives. A year ago, this would have been a revolution, Internet users everywhere would have hailed Microsoft for bringing the music industry into the new world, but now it's too little too late.
Do I feel sorry for the music industry? No. We've *all* been watching the value of our intellectual property shift and rotate. When the consumer software industry was nascent, we went through the copy protection fight with users, and as always, the users won. The Internet is the continuation of that. The old economics are old, there's a new formula, people still (not everyone) want to pay for what they use. The music industry could have helped restore value to intellectual property in other artforms. Instead they injected huge doses of fear, and have polarized users. (The $multi-billion proposed settlement with MP3.Com scares the daylights out of me.)
Until recently, music was immune, the pipes were too small, the fans too scared, to move music over the Internet. No one wanted to go first. Then the dam broke. The music industry doesn't say anything to the fans, other than calling them pirates, focusing the discussion on money and ignoring the art that's being created.
As a user, my challenge is to figure out what to say to the musicians, to invite them to come participate in the new artistic playground. As I said yesterday, they must be scared. We must talk with them, answer their questions, and make it clear that no one is doing this, it's just happening.
Remember when you were younger and hungry. When change was good. Be there again. Be hungry for the artistic challenge, participate in the creation of a new medium. It can be a happy thing! Say something, we'll listen, and tell you what we hear. We're waiting, waiting, to hear from you.
Listen to David Bowie: "Every time I thought I'd got it made, it seemed the taste was not so sweet."
Or Leon Russell: "Listen to the sea roll in, thinking of you, and how it might have been."
And Dorothy: "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore Toto."
Yesterday, two milestone stories in the Los Angeles Times.
It's impossible to come up with representative soundbites of these stories, because the stories are filled with them. The basic theme is that the people of the music industry, some on the record, are saying publicly that things have changed, the initiatives are too little too late, the music industry plans are Hail Mary plays. Read these pieces to see the resolve of the music industry, crumbling.
I urge the music industry to withdraw the Napster and MP3.Com lawsuits.
Shutting down these companies will do nothing to stem the tide, and they alienate you from the music fans, whose patience must be wearing thin.
As the EMI exec in the LA Times piece did, sit down with your son or daughter, or a friend who uses Napster, and start grooving on the tunes. Enjoy music as you never have. Then think.
A lot of music industry execs say they got into music because they love it. Taken at face value, I urge you to love it again. Share the experience. You'll find lots of new business models. As Jimmy Iovine says in the LA Times piece, you have to get it right, quickly. We'll work with you, but first, take the hex off the companies who are helping to facilitate the revolution. (That's all they're doing.)
A final note, I've started a new page on the Napster Weblog.
The stories linked into this page were milestones in the development of music on the Internet. In some way they expressed an idea or point of view for the first time. Over time they may have only historic value. At the time they appeared they had impact.
Think of this as a Web scrapbook of the evolution of music culture on the Internet. The articles are in reverse-chronologic order, ie the most recent pieces appear first. It appears one-sided, because the voices on the other side have not said much directly to the users, beyond the lawsuits, which are adequately covered elsewhere.
See you soon, what a great story this is, we're staying with it.