I was talking with a fellow musician after my gig last night, who is against Napster.
He told me that he was originally a pro-Napster person, but that after a conversation with Lars Ulrich a couple of weeks ago, that he changed his mind. He agrees with Lars that the issue is not a matter of money, but rather a matter of permission.
I presented the argument that the permission that Lars wants can’t be granted by Napster, since Napster is not in control of what their users make available, and that in fact, Napster’s search engine isn’t really that different from Hotbot’s advanced search, using .mp3 as the extension to search for files (which yields 140,200 results when I last checked).
After all, anyone who runs a web server can share an mp3 file. Right?
I also said that in my opinion, permission is a euphamism for control, and in most cases it’s the recording industry who is in control. Sure, artists have a choice about whether or not to sign contracts, but the choice is between selling out and getting marketed, or not selling out and being forced to get day-jobs. There are, in my experience, almost no exceptions. (If you are one of the exceptions, you’re heartily invited to join this conversation.)
Anyway, since he knows Lars personally, I invited my friend here to debate the Napster issue, and I asked if he would mind bringing Lars with him.
We’re all musicians. We have different points of view. I hope it will be an enlightening conversation.
(For the record, I’m working really hard to get the musicians what they want — easy profitable distribution — and to take the corrupt middlemen out of the loop. I say this up front, so that my intentions don’t come into question. To be clear, I am an artist who is pro-artist. I don’t care about money, middlemen, politics, or record companies. All I want is for artists to have a fair shake, and to be able to make a decent living doing what they love — and what they’re best at… their art.)