More Nap talk!!!
Posted by: Jack ()
Date: June 08, 2000 02:58AM

Hey boys & girls,

Well, you've all mentioned some really clever points, and as much as I love to ramble endlessly, I won't sift through them all one by one. The thing I want to focus on is -- most people know that Napster is if not necessarily illegal as such, a legal loophole to a morally illegal wrong. Right?? I still think many of the points I raised are very valid indeed (except for the "Robin Hood approach", which was nice mentioning anyway) and at the same time Danny is right in his own way. The point being, I do think Napster will eventually die unless it is regulated in some form or another.....they can't keep it up forever. Without wanting to sound too Darwinian here, the future is simple - if it doesn't want to die, it will have to adapt (dare I say evolve?). But, assuming you're going to keep it alive and not shut the company down altogether, how do you put a leash on it?

There are several scenarios, but I'll just put two for now. Stay with me -

a) Napster could stay the way it is, but some form of control is provided so people cannot trade full albums readily available on the market. Everything else, from interviews, remixes, and deleted albums to live versions and B-sides can be traded back and forth with glee. I'd be pretty happy with this, as it doesn't harm anyone and this is what I mostly use it for anyway. The problem is that it would be astoundingly difficult to do so. Some poor bastard would have to design a whole new program with every available thing on it and besides, the variety of artists out there of all genres is mind-boggling. Also, since Napster works on the names people give their files to recognize a song, people could just type in alternate names and trade the same widely available product without getting caught (e.g., I E-mail Danny or send him a message via ICQ saying "pssst.....I'm gonna put up the new Britney Spears as Sounds of the Gypsy Countryside and you just download it and change the file names on your computer"). So it will be very difficult to pull off.

Of course, the alternative to make this scenario work is very simple. Napster, to avoid dying, makes some sort of list or contact number for arts\ists. Then, any artist can specify that he does not wish his music to be traded in such a manner and that's it. Napster acquieses and makes that artist's albums be unavailable (by forbidding files with that name to go onto the program). Simply not allowing those files to go in is a better alternative to banning users. Besides, those agreements with the artist only involve available songs (which means that only the songs from store-available discs of their catalog are banned, leaving everything else such as B-sides, etc.). If an artist chooses not to put himself down on the list, then it is kind of understood that he tacitly accepts it. That way, the artist benefits as well because he doesn't have to go into the whole lawsuit thing that makes him look like an asshole. And once many artists start doing it, anyone from Sting to Dan Danzi can specify it and that's it. Think about it - you get the best of both worlds.....rather than have Napster shut down, you still have access to rare, live, and undeleted songs AND widely available tracks from artists who are not on the exclusion list because, much like Motley Crue or Limp Bizkit (ugh!), they favor the use of Napster for their music. The exclusion list would run in the thousands, but it will allow Napster to stay legal, and more importantly, alive.

b) Napster starts involving money. This can be handled a dozen different ways. You can pay a fee for access per month and said fee can be distributed equally among the artists you download for said time period (Napster would have to keep track of your downloads in a file or something and pass on the funds accordingly) or simply enough, Napster can charge a fee per download, period (although in an ideal situation, it would only charge if it were an available track, which again brings in the aforementioned problems). Users, of course, won't be pleased - the argument will go "Well, if I'm paying anyway, what prevents me from going to the record store and just buying it with the pretty pictures and artwork, all the good looking shit instead of paying online for something I'll have to burn?? (and still pay for a blank CDR in the bargain!)" The answer is something Surfpunk won't like very much.

You make it cheaper. How do you do that?? By axing the middleman. The record companies strike a bargain with Napster where Napster (still charging nothing for themselves, as they apparently have other means of income - see my question at the end of this rant) passes on the earnings to the record company, and they in turn, give the artist his piece of the pie for royalties, etc. You eliminate not only the stuff from the retailer (and what he pays for the CD + overhead costs + profit) but what the record company has to spend to ship truckloads of CDs nationwide, and for pressing the disc on an actual piece of plastic, spending more paper, etc etc, etc. Basically, the record company - which owns the recorded work - passes it to Napster, which in turn sells you the whole Britney Spears CD for 4 bucks or so (or a track or two of your choosing for a pre-established frction of that price). It's a cheaper alternative for those who aren't so gaga over Britney that they have to have the whole printed & packaged deal. Maybe the record labels will make less than with bona fide record store sales, but they certainly won't be losing money. Remember, a huge portion of the price the retailer buys the CD at includes all of the record companie's spending on material and people. If they sell it to you by Napster (sans middleman) their only cost is the electronic file itself. If you still want to buy the whole thing for 17 bucks you're free to do so, but you can get it for less than half without the bells and whistles if so you wish. The artist & record company get their share and since they're not giving to you the music all wrapped up in material from third parties, you don't pay as much. For this to happen, Napster would have to grow enormously in order to handle the dealing with money and record labels, so who knows.......and conventional record stores would be supremely pissed off. But again, we'd have to take a look at the figures and see if there's actually an impact in ordinary retail sales, or if they stay more or less the same and the overall sales of the product increase thanks to Napster. At the same time, Napster allows you to trade non-available stuff for free. The whole thing would be very complicated and is giving me a headache - I don't even know if I'm making any damn sense.

As a final question though, I was wondering how in the hell these Napster folks make money. Afetr all, the download of the program is free (and they don't offer enhanced pay versions like Real Audio and other companies). Yet their FAQ assures the reader that "the hard work of the Napster team does not go unrewarded". Anyone know how they handle this?


White Trash Half-Blind Bogeyman.

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SubjectViewsWritten ByPosted
My thoughts on Napster... 401Jack.06/03/2000 12:38PM
RE: My thoughts on Napster... 295 Dave 06/03/2000 05:12PM
RE: My thoughts on Napster... 300 Alex siedler 06/03/2000 08:04PM
RE: My thoughts on Napster... 280 Robert 06/04/2000 03:31AM
RE: My thoughts on Napster... 292Surfpunk06/04/2000 08:18PM
RE: My thoughts on Napster... 282 Mike 06/04/2000 06:10AM
RE: My thoughts on Napster... 298 Eric 06/04/2000 08:58PM
Clever sophistry but ... 289 Copious K9 06/07/2000 04:38AM
RE: My thoughts on Napster... 244 Danny Danzi 06/07/2000 07:13PM
More Nap talk!!!293Jack06/08/2000 02:58AM

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