I was waffling on whether or not to support Napster until I heard Tony Bennett is a Napster man. This may not be fair, but in my mind I started lining up the musicians on both sides of the argument.
For Napster: Bennett, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Ice-T, Don Henley, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow.
Against: Paul McCartney, Elton John, Metallica, Dr. Dre.
If you go for originality, innovation and sheer talent, you have to be pro-Napster. Musicians like that must be right.
Nothing Personal, but…
Paul McCartney and Elton John are two washed-up, mercenary British pop idols. Aren’t they filthy-rich enough?
McCartney was never close in ability to the really talented Beatle, John Lennon. In his prime, McCartney was a lightweight pretty boy; now, he’s just lightweight. I think the reason he hasn’t really thought through the Napster issue is because he isn’t capable of it.
John wears a bad hairpiece, which means he isn’t comfortable with himself. He’s friends with Cher. He puts out those “best of” CDs just to make money to feed his hairpiece habit.
Metallica is a heavy metal band, so right away you can throw out any presumption of clear thought. I’m guessing Mick Jagger, another British rocker who’s a notorious tightwad, is with them, though he hasn’t been stupid enough to admit it publicly. Dr. Dre? I don’t know anything about him, but physicians already make enough money.
Rap is an original music form that expresses the attitude of creative, musical people — and Chuck D and Ice-T are two of the best. They realize that the people who listen to the music are more important than the money that can be made off them.
Bruce Springsteen? Listen to the album “Nebraska” one time and tell me he isn’t a man of the people. Don Henley was partly responsible for the songs “Hotel California” and “Tequila Sunrise,” so his opinions carry great weight. Sheryl Crow is all right, I guess, and of course, Tony Bennett is as classy as they get. He wouldn’t back something shaky.
You can listen to the lyrics in their songs and know they have important things to say. Not so with McCartney and John.
ACLU Rocks On
We don’t have to limit our evaluation to musicians, however. Look at the rest of the player line-up. Against Napster — besides aging, untalented British pop icons — are the record companies, which have made obscene profits off us over the years.
In support of Napster, you have the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which, earlier this year, urged a federal court to lift an injunction against the music file-swapping company until it could at least hear evidence in the complicated case.
“Although still in its infancy, the Internet has become a medium of unprecedented, interactive mass communication,” the ACLU said at the time. “The injunction in this case has the potential for affecting this vital new medium of communication and cannot be taken lightly.”
Wise words. Compare that to McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs.” No contest.
Net Loss or Net Gain
Forrester Research said last summer that US$3 billion is being lost because of Napster and other sites where users swap music for free. The question is: Lost to whom?
Another way of looking at it: $3 billion is being gained by the people responsible for propping up the entire music industry, a group that has been under-represented and exploited for too long — us, the poor dopes who shell out big for over-priced CDs with one or two good songs.
Make Someone Happy
Napster and similar sites give the masses a way to circumvent financial exploitation by vested interests who have used legal loopholes, high-priced lobbyists and other unsavory means over the years to reach deep into our pockets. And whenever that happens, the powers that be get nervous.
Free sites also have the enviable peripheral attribute of helping talented,lesser-known musicians who may not have had the good luck to hook up with the record companies’ marketing machines.
Maybe there’s a modern-day Tony Bennett out there yet to be discovered. If McCartney, John and the record moguls have their way, we’ll never know.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it.
Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.