The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Monday, December 18, 2000

When It Comes To Rage, Mum's The Word

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: The corporate behemoth known as Sony Music Entertainment Inc. did a funny thing the other day — nothing. They didn't file a lawsuit. They didn't threaten legal action. They didn't, at least publicly, inform one of their bands that it had violated its contract. They didn't make any public statement. Regarding the Rage/Napster problem, all was quiet on both the eastern and western fronts (Sony maintains offices in both New York and L.A.). All of which makes me wonder how long it will take for other artists who, like Rage Against the Machine, are under contract to Sony, to put a bunch of song files and video files onto their Web sites. Bob Dylan, for example, has plenty of material he could put online as MP3s. And Michael Penn, a younger artist who hasn't yet had a hit, might generate some buzz if he gave away a selection of his power-pop songs. And what of Wyclef Jean, or Modest Mouse, or Hooverphonic? Pearl Jam, are you listening? And what about The Offspring, who Sony stopped from posting MP3 files a month or so ago? Rage Against the Machine, one of the most popular rock bands in America and still under contract to Sony, just gave away a whole bunch of their music. If Sony let Rage do it, why not The Offspring? See, normally, when a band or solo artist signs with a big company like Sony (or even when they sign with a smaller label), the contract stipulates that they can only release music on that one label, unless they get explicit permission from the label, for example, to contribute to a film soundtrack being released by a different label. So either Rage are in violation of their contract or they got permission from Sony. If they are in violation of their contract, how come Sony hasn't done anything to force them to remove the tracks, the way Capitol Records made the Beastie Boys remove songs from the Web a few years back? And if Sony were looking the other way, it would be the utmost hypocrisy for the company to take action against any other artist signed to their label for posting MP3 files after letting Rage slide. On the other hand, if Sony gave Rage formal permission, it would seem they'd have to do the same for their other artists or risk some serious dissension in the ranks. Rage, of course, have been extremely vocal about what guitarist Tom Morello called "this horrible mistake": the request by Rage's management, Q Prime, and label, Sony's Epic Records, that Napster ban music fans who were "sharing" Rage songs online using the controversial company's service. "I have been embroiled in discussions on a daily basis with both Sony and Napster to get Rage fans unbanned," Morello posted on the band's message board on Thursday, Dec. 14. Go, Rage, Go!

Datastream: Details, details. Here's what Rage posted: Fifteen songs — some live versions of older songs, some instrumental versions of material off Renegades — in the MP3 format, along with five videos on their site. Videos include versions of "Bulls on Parade" filmed at the Petra Theater in Athens, Greece (last June), and "Know Your Enemy" from the Provinssi Rock Festival in Seinajuki, Finland (also last June). Writes Morello in that December 14 message: "...we want to make clear whose side we are on in this matter. We make music for our fans, and we want to share our creativity and our politics with you. To that end, we have released over 90 minutes of free music and video. Included are 11 instrumental tracks from Renegades which you can feel free to remix, sing over, or send in audition tapes (just kidding). ... Our apologies once again for this Napster business, and while we will continue to joust with the corporate dragons and try to get everyone unbanned, please take all of this free music as a thank you for your patience. The latest way to hack your way onto Napster if you have been kicked off, is to visit this page, , and follow the instructions given."... Former Pavement frontman/writer Stephen Malkmus will have his first solo album, Stephen Malkmus, out Feb. 13. Don't be surprised if the album has some of that familiar Pavement sound. Malkmus told me last year that he had recorded much of crooked rain, crooked rain on his own. The solo album will include such songs as "Black Book," "The Hook," "Trojan Curfew" and "Jenny and the Ess-Dog."... Helium's Mary Timony has been collaborating with Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein on new Spells songs. ... Congrats due to the folks at Fugazi's Dischord Records, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary. A box set that will provide an overview of the label — with selections by all the bands that have recorded for Dischord — is due out next spring.

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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