Napster and the Future of the Recording Industry

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Napster, check out their page and their software at http:\, and check out their press page for some of the information concerning the inevitable legal backlash.

For those of you who don’t want to read the links, a quick summary:

Napster is a software that allows people to catalogue, search for, and download MP3s from other users running the software. Its one program, both client and server. The songs that you share are stored in a database on the napster server. When you do a search it takes the result set from this database, pings them and sorts by fastest server (client). So essentially it just provides a really easy way to share music with everyone. I just downloaded it this yesterday, and already built up a collection of over 80 mp3s that I actually want - most of them live bootlegs, many of them pretty obscure. If you can’t find what you want, what you want is pretty wierd. Do a search for something relatively popular and you’ll find hundreds of servers.

Now, what does this mean? Well, if the record company’s suit is unsuccessful, I think it is the beginning of the end for them. There is no way to prosecute the individual users any more than you can stop people from recording episodes of Frasier, or NFL games (both of which, are of course illegal). The suit may well be unsuccessful, Napster does not store or distribute any songs. They simply tell you who is doing so :slight_smile:

I don’t think record companies have much sympathy, if they become an outmoded distribution agent, well so what. I’m concerned about the artists. However, I don’t know that this will hurt them. I know most music stars make the vast majority of their earnings from live performances - and what can a wider dissemination of their music do but help this? Performers make literally pennies on the dollar for album sales. I want to hear other thoughts on this, however.

Napster is of limited value if you don’t have cable or DSL - but consumer internet technology is only going to get better. Eventually you will be able to download movies and other video the same way. Where do we go from here?

Sorry, its

I LOVE Napster! I’ve got a phone line at home, but my friends in the dorms have a T1. I go over there, fire up Napster, and download every song I can think of. I’m going to borrow dad’s 250mb Zip USB and put all the songs on there, then bring them home and transfer them to CDs for my car with my burner.

BTW, today alone, I downloaded over 50 songs. That brought us up to a total near 550.


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.

Theft by any other name would smell as sour.

Cooper wrote:

Do I detect a bit of rationalization here…

When you say you’re “concerned about the artists,” do you mean that you intend to send them money for their efforts?

Do you really believe that the people who enabled the recording by financing it and delivering the work to market deserve nothing for their efforts?

Do you really believe that because the industry makes plenty of money from concert performances that you are entitled to enjoy recordings for free? By that logic, you should be entitled to free front-row tickets to NBA games, since alot of players make more money through endorsements and image sales.

I do believe that the world is changing and old distribution methods are antiquating. The new world is exciting and better. But that doesn’t make stealing from old world artists right.

I do agree that this is stealing and as such it is wrong.

There are tons of ways to rationalize it. Artists make more through other channels. I would not have the song if I had to pay for it. I am only listening to it occasionally. Etc.

I think that this is signalling a change in the distribution methods. Maybe Napster starts doing advertising via their software and sends some of the ad revenue to the Artists. Maybe we start paying $1 a song. Maybe Artists start getting money from other sources and do choose to give their songs away.

Who knows. But you are right under the current system it is stealing.


Just curious how it really could be called “stealing”. It’s file-sharing, basically no different than if I were to tape off one of my CDs and give it to a friend, as far as I can see. I’ve downloaded about 200 files via Napster servers in the last few days, and I’ve paid nothing to anyone, including Napster. If they’re not making any money from what they’re doing, I fail to see how what they’re doing is wrong. Course, IANAL…perhaps someone could clear that up a little better for feeble minds such as myself.

“I like toast.” :slight_smile:

You’re not supposed to do that either–you are only supposed to make copies for your personal use, IIRC. I used to use pirated .mp3’s, then had an attack of conscience and deleted 'em all (accidentally including some that I actually own on CD–d’oh!). What I wish would happen is that the record comapnies would let you get a single song for a dollar or so, instead of having to buy the whole CD. They’d make a lot more money off me, at least, since I generally refuse to buy a CD for one song but I’d buy a lot of single songs if I could.

I’m speaking as a recording artist here. Well sort of, since I’ve never been on anything more than a two-bit regional label (I am, however, courting a few bigger labels right now with my new band’s demo).

The current music revolution is a windfall to musicians. mp3 swapping, cd-ripping and burning, etc. is all beneficial for the artist, but NOT for the label or distributer (especially). I WANT people to hear the tunes I write and perform - I don’t care how they come by the tunes. What I find is most fans will listen to a sample of the song, then download the mp3 and then they want a professional CD or vinyl record which has the liner notes, artwork, etc. I wish I could offer fans all of this without ever going through the distributers. Perhaps that day is closing in. I hope so.

It’s only THEFT in the most anal, clinical of ways, and even then, it’s still not theft from the artist, just the pimps who profit from them. Take a look at the scams big labels and distribution houses play on naive musicians - they are the true crooks.

Basically what you’re doing by downloading these files is pickpocketing a penny from a hardened mobster who just hit a little old lady over the head and took her entire life savings and left her to bleed to death on the cold pavement.

Help artists everywhere - download!!

Yet to be reconciled with the reality of the dark for a moment, I go on wandering from dream to dream.

IMO, Napster allows everyone to be their own sleazy record company exec. I’ve mostly heard complaints from the record companies, not so much from the artists themselves (a la the Doobie Bros. on “What’s Happening”).

There’s plenty of “bootleg” albums that I own- live recordings I can’t purchase legitimately. But if an artist puts out a good studio album, I buy that as well.

What scares the crap out of me about Napster isn’t the (il) legality of copying and trading MP3’s, it’s the fact that by using the program you have opened your machine to everybody on the Internet. If you aren’t familiar with the program you have to set up a directory that is accessable to the Napster community. So far, it is believed to be secure but you can be darn sure that every hacker is trying to figure out how to increase their access to other directories on your hard drive. It just gives me the creeps, like leaving your front door unlocked and posting a sign telling everybody to go into the house the door is unlocked.


You want brilliance BEFORE I’ve had my coffee!!!

I love Napster, I have been using it for a LONG while now. I still remember when people actually chatted in the rooms, and when there were only 4 servers.

I do not know anything about Napster. But the downloading of music seems like a great way for a lot of band to be heard that are too good to be signed by record labels. (I am covinced that label executives do not actually listen to music and that movie exec’s do not actaully watch movies. They just read marketing reports.)

I think I would also buy many more CD’s if I could pick and choose what songs I got.

My idea is this:

Every music store is run by computers for us knowledgable folks, and normal ‘go down the isles looking for crap that sounds good’ for the others.

We would just type in the songs we want and it would burn them onto a CD for us. I agree that the record companies would make MUCH more money wit this system, because any computer saavy person out there doesn’t bother with CD’s anymore.

It is not that I want to rip anybody off, it is just that for the most part, I only like one or sometimes two songs per CD. In fact, only two CD’s have I liked every song on. First, Garrison Starr’s debut album, and Fumbling Towards Ecstacy by Sarah McLachlan, which any sarah fan will agree with.

Well Odieman, according to Maximum PC magazine, someone has cracked the Napster code. I have not checked out the link they gave, but the magazine says it has been reverse engineered and is posted on the web.


I would be interested in buying songs in expertly engineered MP3 format. What I would not be interested in is buying songs that will self-destruct after so many plays. But that’s the only compromise the record companies are prepared to offer.

bilehunt wrote:

Music piracy may be a sin of some kind, but I think it’s a little simple minded to write it off as `theft.’ It’s like putting a bad doctor on trial for serial murder rather than negligence and malpractice. Nobody is being deprived of property. Sure, you could say that the money in the pirate’s pocket is the record company’s property, but do you really believe that? That merely owning a copy of a reproducable medium entitles someone else to your money?

Johhny Angel wrote

We’re all entitled to our opinion, but the law is quite clear on the matter: Intellectual Property is as much a possession as a book, a beer, or a dollar bill. IP can be traded, sold, leased, or borrowed like any other commodity. Taking it without the permission of the owner (and especially against the wishes of the owner) is theft. That’s not Bill’s take, that’s the law’s take. And not just US law; this is pretty universal on this planet.

We went down this road a while ago, during the discussions about DeCSS and copying DVDs.

It still amazes me that there are people who believe that it is no crime to steal intellectual property.

Sake – how will your career as a musician flourish if there is no way for you to be paid for your songs? As a struggling, unknown musician, I agree this technology is a godsend. It allows you an easy, low-overhead way of introuducing your music to the fans. Prior to the Internet, you had to get the backing of a label and get your music to radio stations – now, you have a shortcut directly to the people.

But for an established artist, who would presumably like a check from the record company for his work… it’s not as positive.

  • Rick

I’m with Sake on this one. I also produce my own music, and I, too would rather have my music “out there” and not make any money on it, than not to be distributed at all.

Many artists that come into my studio refuse to put their music on the web because they’re afraid someones going to steal their songs. For me it’s a matter of exposure.

The odds that the bread will fall butter side down are directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

There are a lot of people who think that there is no such thing as property.


I agree with Bricker.

Also a musician, I love it when people listen to my music, but I would also love it if I got paid for it (If I was a pro musician, or not).

I agree that the music industry rapes the musicians. I heard something once, that went like: when Michael Jackson was at his height, and his CDs were going for like, $13, he was only getting like $2, or some number very close to that, per CD. Unbelieveable!

I think it would be great if a group, say, Aerosmith, had their own site, and you could buy their new album, via MP3 format, for $8 or so. They would make a ton more money.

Patrick Ashley

“For those who believe, no evidence is necessary; for those who don’t believe, no evidence is enough.” -Unknown