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Beast of the Month - June 2000

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  • robalini@aol.com
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2000
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com


      http://www.konformist.com/botm/volume04/botm0600.htm

      Beast of the Month - June 2000

      Hilary Rosen, CEO, Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA)

      "I yam an anti-Christ..."

      John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"



      "Thanks for your support and for the doubters out there, Metallica will carry
      on for the next 20 years, whether your along for the ride or not, that's your
      problem, not ours."
      Lars Ulrich, showing his appreciation to his fans.





      In what may be one of the worst business decisions in the history of music,
      the rock band Metallica has waged a self-destructive battle against its own
      fans while fighting an ultimately unproductive war against Napster, the
      company behind Internet file-sharing software which drastically eases MP3
      file transfer. Whining that they are victims of horrible fans who
      unappreciatively want to listen to their music, Lars Ulrich and his cohorts
      claim that the listeners of their korporate rock are ruining their ability to
      earn a living. During an online chat with rapidly dwindling fans, Lars urged
      Congress to stop Napster "before this whole Internet thing runs amok."
      Frankly, considering they haven't put out anything worthwhile over the last
      eight years, they should be grateful that anyone still listens to their crap.

      Still, though Lars and co. have proven themselves to be the washed up,
      overrated dinosaur rockers that they are, focusing too much on Metallica
      loses sight of the bigger picture, that Metallica Inc. is merely a pathetic
      cog in a truly diabolical machine. That machine is the Recording Industry
      Association of American (RIAA), a $14-billion monolith headed by Hilary
      Rosen, The Konformist Beast of the Month.

      The RIAA, a trade company representing Seagram's Universal Music, Bertelsmann
      AG's BMG, Sony Music, Time Warner's Warner Music, and EMI, is a huge,
      multi-billion dollar combine with vast political influence. The RIAA has been
      on a sue-happy frenzy, going after both Napster and MP3.com for supposed
      violations of their copyright laws, claiming that they are losing millions
      (if not billions) of dollars. Never mind that in the past two years, mindless
      pap spewed out by 'N Sync, The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears have had
      first week sales exceeding one million copies apiece. Indeed, there is pretty
      strong evidence to suggest that Napster and MP3, like MTV and radio before
      it, are actually a boon to the music industry in general, by giving music
      free publicity and hype. That appears to be what is behind the huge sales of
      Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP, which was the top Napster download before
      its smashing debut.

      Almost lost in their complaints of being victimized by MP3 and Napster is a
      truth that the recording industry doesn't want to let out about itself: that
      its entire reason for existence is over exploiting both musicians and music
      fans alike. It's actually cheaper to make a CD than it is to record a tape:
      why are prices for CD so inflated then? As for the musicians themselves,
      while a select few limousine rebels like Lars and his pals rake in big bucks,
      they only get a fraction of their actual labor from all their recording
      efforts. The RIAA oligopoly is a huge pyramid that sucks up the entertainment
      dollars from those who have earned it: the artists themselves. No surprise,
      then, that in The Covert War Against Rock, underground writer Alex
      Constantine's just recently published opus for Feral House, one of the main
      theme's of the book is the connection between those involved in the recording
      industry and criminal syndicates.

      For all their discussion of the predatory nature of Napster and MP3, the
      recording industry can't hide one obvious fact: for the most part, they are a
      huge deadweight enterprise, even more bloated than Metallica's ego has become
      swollen over the years. That is what scares the RIAA about Napster and
      MP3.com: that artists will decide they don't need the RIAA cartel to get
      their music out there. Using the Internet, musicians could bypass the system
      altogether, and use the hype to sell their albums or, perhaps even more
      important, as promotion for concert tours, which have long been the real meal
      ticket for rock stars.

      Sadly, such MP3-fueled anarcho-utopian economic fantasies popular among the
      digital libertarians seem a little far fetch: sure, artists can promote
      themselves via the net, but nobody will know about the music if it isn't
      promoted well. Word of mouth helps, but ultimately, money talks, which the
      RIAA combine certainly has. While they traditionally have profited off of
      manufacturing records, tapes and CDs, as a marketing firm in an information
      economy, the RIAA giants should be pretty hard to beat. The Internet hasn't
      killed Time Magazine or CNN, so the idea that the RIAA should face a demise
      over new technologies seems dubious at best.

      Of course, even if it doesn't destroy the RIAA, the Internet revolution
      certainly changes the dynamics of record producing. Further, by lowering the
      costs of distributing mass amounts of information, the Internet will allow
      competitors a better chance against the RIAA club. For a fattened industry
      like the recording industry, changing tactics to fight off the frightening
      prospect of new competition is not a pleasant prospect.

      Unsurprisingly, the Democratic Leadership Council and its Progressive Policy
      Institute have released a manifesto urging for the protection of the poor
      oppressed music industry from Napster and other dangerous threats to mankind.
      In their manifesto, "The Need to Revisit The Digital Millennium Copyright
      Act," the PPI urges stricter copyright laws to defend the helpless music
      industry. Oddly, these are the same folks who cheer on globalization, and
      term complaints of its effects on the Third World and the First World working
      class short-sighted criticisms from people who will have to adjust to the new
      economic realities. Also coincidentally, the RIAA is a big donor to the
      Democratic Party.

      Which leads us to Hilary Rosen, a longtime Democratic Party figure and
      lobbyist. She was a founding board member for Rock the Vote, a group which
      encouraged youth to become more involved in the political process, while
      encouraging a political agenda that matched perfectly with the Democratic
      Party. The connection between Rosen, the Democratic Party, Rock the Vote, and
      the RIAA certainly isn't illegal, but it isn't a coincidence.

      No, it isn't a coincidence, and neither is the battle involving the usage of
      MP3s and the Internet. This is the first big economic battle of the Digital
      Age, and it is clear that Rosen, the RIAA, and those has-beens in Metallica
      are on the wrong side.

      In any case, we salute Hilary Rosen as Beast of the Month. Congratulations,
      and keep up the great work, Hilary!!!





      The Konformist

      http://www.konformist.com

      Robert Sterling

      Post Office Box 24825

      Los Angeles, California 90024-0825

      (310) 737-1081

      Robalini@...

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