Wednesday, January 11, 2006

On Hacking and MySpace (an email debate)

My best friend since junior high works in the music business and lives in LA. I love the guy, but he is so "industry" that sometimes I just crack up. He will defend any shady, corporate music business practice. He is way into MySpace and knows some people who work there. I am merely a casual visitor to the site.

I think MySpace is a better marketing tool for bands and models than it is a place "for friends." That's fine. There are thousands of bands on the site and you can listen to a couple of songs by each band. I read about a way to download the songs on MySpace instead of simply streaming them. Is this illegal? Yes. But is it a big deal? I'd say no. Here is the email exchange between myself (HD), my industry friend (IF), and one comment from somenone else (SE). I'm not sure who won the "argument" or if this was even an argument. This just exemplifies some of the debates we get into.

I sent the following email-- titled 'Hack to Download any song on MySpace' -- to a number of friends:

HD: I haven't tried this yet.

IF: I forwarded this on to my friend that is the head of marketing for myspace.
Fuckin cheap kids cant pay 99 cents for a song

HD: dude, you're too industry. i'm not forwarding you anything anymore.

SE: is myspace charging 99 cents for songs now?

IF: No but its not a bad idea to give the artist a choice if they want to sell their music or give it away.

HD: If MySpace charges money for the songs, then I will quit. I won't give even a nickel to Rupert Murdoch. The artist is likely to get a few pennies, while Fox News will get a new studio....

IF: How do you know what the splits are? I doubt it is as lucrative as you think. If you have seen the film Walk The Line, you already gave money over for a new Fox News Studio

HD: The splits will be unfair for the artists because that's how it always works out.

And I have no issue with Fox getting some money from me, they have some worthy companies under their corporate umbrella. But there have been dozens of reports in the last few weeks about MySpace users being censored in their postings, messages, and blogs. If this censoring was for something legitimate like child porn or racism or something, I would understand why. But this is about if you mentioned a competing site, the words or links would be removed. That's a shitty policy. And it sounds exactly like something a right wing sonofabitch like Rupert Murdoch would do. NBC mentions ABC. Showtime mentions HBO. It's absurd that a company would ban the mere mention of a similar company?

The film thing doesn't really apply. Murdoch , to my knowledge, does not meddle in the affairs of its film studio. Could be wrong. But there have been a number of lawsuits from actors and producers that have claimed that Fox is not paying their residuals when airing re-runs on its cable stations. That's not a real artist friendly attitude for the company to have....

I'm talking about being a tattle tale. You know as well as I do that maybe 1% of all people out there are sophisticated enough to actually pull off that hack. No one will lose anything. Unsigned bands would give their left nut to get more exposure -- whatever the means. I'm 100% in favor of artists being paid more. It's a shame that so many labels are the ones who are ripping off artists. Fans downloading songs doesn't.

I'm not in favor of P2P file sharing. That is stealing. No question. But this is just giving someone the opportunity to play the song at their leisure, without having to go to MySpace first. The song is already out there. This is the digital age. Whenever someone thinks they have a way to make a format that can't be copied, someone will find a way to do it. Serves the industry right for ending the LP!!

IF: You could have all the exposure in the world but if there is not revenue generated, it doesn’t amount to shit. I will say if a artist is good enough they will generate revenue from merchandise and ticket sales. But it is de-valuing music, kids today put less value on music than when we were growing up. Ask the kids today for yourself and they will tell you. As labels go, they put out a lot of records a year and very very few generate a profit. Its not as lucrative of a business as it use to be. These bands have a choice to sign with a label, major or indie. The contracts are in black and white, it is their attorney to advise them of the deal. In terms of myspace, they have options if a band wants to stream or download a song, what is the big deal if they add another feature to sell the song? It would be an amazing thing and could see a entire new model of business. Unsigned bands can sell their music worldwide! How fuckin cool is that?

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