A "buycott" for Napster
Friday, July 28, 2000 by Dave Winer.
Yesterday we were talking about Napster, of course, on the UserLand discussion group. Some people said they wanted to boycott the music industry in protest over the looming shutdown of Napster.
I took the other side, I said it was time to go to the record stores and buy lots of CDs and let the people in the store know, politely, that we're buying music to show support for Napster. Perhaps even hand them a greeting card they can keep or give to their boss. (It's possible that music store people like Napster too.)
There's no clearer way to show the economic power of Napster users. Show them the money. That's what the music industry is asking us to do. It's such a small thing, compared to the value of music. So let's flood their coffers with cash, and see where that goes.
The management at Napster must see it the same way because they've started a "buycott" page listing artists that support Napster.
On that list I see one of my favorite bands, the Grateful Dead. I didn't know they supported Napster. Is there a statement somewhere on the Web? Spread the word. Grateful Dead fans have lots of love and lots of money.
Even though I already have every Grateful Dead CD, I'm going to Tower Records in Mountain View at 3PM on Sunday to buy $100 of Grateful Dead music. Deadheads who love Napster can organize their own buycotts. Bribe the music industry to support us, to join us in the joy of music on the Internet.
Before there were personal computers there were mainframes, multi-million dollar machines run by powerful people who didn't care what the users wanted. I know about this, I programmed mainframes when I was very young. I couldn't stand it, they were so complicated, so hard to use, but that's how you did computing before the revolution.
In the late 1970s a revolution started, entrepreneurs created personal computers, each person could have their own computer, and while they didn't have the computing and storage capacity of mainframes, they were much more powerful because users controlled them, and could use them any way they wanted to.
Before the Internet revolution, music worked like mainframes. People who don't care very much about users programmed music, and gave us what they want us to hear, not what we want to listen to. Commercial radio is not really about music, it's about getting people to listen to commercials. This has been going on for decades, whole lifetimes, and it's run it's course. Now users have the power to program music for themselves.
With the explosion of music on the Internet comes an opportunity to route around commercial radio stations, as personal computers routed around mainframes, and do for ourselves what the programmers won't do. That's where we're going next. UserLand is working on personal radio station software. It's pretty heavy stuff. Next week.
Believe it or not, I'd like to thank the music industry for bringing money into the discussion again. Open source hype destroyed the economy of software. Now perhaps we can rebuild it, based on reality. There really is a joy to spending money on things you love. It's simple, and fair, and realistic.
The music industry hasn't heard this message, but it's been out there, in the air for them to tune into any time they want. The software industry has already been decimated by the culture of piracy, both in ideas and implementations, through patents, open source and the Internet bubble.
We can get our interests aligned and work together, now that the open source hype has faded, and the Internet bubble has burst, and at the same time we can (we will) empower users to have it their way with music.
Yes yes yes, money matters. We want to run honorable businesses, with customers who pay. In other words, we want the same thing the music industry wants. I think Hummer-Winblad, the backers of Napster, would agree with this.
The computer and entertainment industries are now converging, as many predicted they would. Let's change both industries for the better.
The first step is to show the music companies that we mean business. Give them the money, and then the conversation can continue, without destroying Napster, without destroying our love. Let's make the world better.
And then let's get the computer industry back on track, let's put a price on our software, and ask the users to be honorable, and pay for what they use.
To the users, the Cluetrain is a two-way railroad. If you want great music and software, and dedicated and responsible creative people doing the work, there's got to be money in it.
It's time to get out the credit cards and checkbooks, and pony up.
Thanks for listening.