The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Quoth TheOstrich: Music Will Be Free

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: Big record companies and rules, possibly in that order, probably top the list of what young rock fans (and a lot of older ones as well) don't like. Napster's courtroom defeat isn't going to sit well with tens of millions who believe record companies have been ripping them off by charging too much for CDs, and who don't buy the notion that they shouldn't be allowed to trade song files. Even as this Napster thing was playing out over the past four months, I've been noticing CD prices rise — at the Tower Records store closest to my house, a CD can cost $18 or $19. When most music fans already thought prices were too high in the digital age, raising them was not the swiftest move. A teenager's reluctance to pay a small fortune for a CD that may only have one or two decent songs is something I find easy to understand; no matter how convincingly some suit argues that a CD's a great value, anything over about $15 just feels wrong. The glee with which the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.), the industry's lobbying group, greeted the Napster decision is unseemly, and I don't think anyone who knows much about the Net thinks a defeat for Napster will ultimately hinder anyone who really wants to exchange song files with other music fans. But don't just take my word for it, listen to TheOstrich. Who? These days, when I'm wondering what the not-so-average guy and gal are thinking about something, I head over to the music area of, where people comment each day on the latest industry news. That's where I found a fellow who goes by TheOstrich. He wrote: "Napster is a corporation, and only corporations can be issued injunctions forcing them to turn off their software. Freenet and Gnutella are OSS programs that do music file sharing, just like Napster. They are not as elegant, nor do they have Napster's database. But if Napster gets shut off (or goes to a pay for service approach) OSS programmers will pour themselves into sprucing up one or both of them, and fill the void. The beauty of OSS software is that it can't be issued an injunction. This point has been made frequently, but too few people understand the situation well enough, so I guess it hasn't sunk in yet. If a free program without any one person or entity in charge fills Napster's void, then who the hell is the government going to tell to stop copying music? They can't even keep us from smoking weed. Bottom line: whether we use Napster or something else, there is no way to stop the free distribution of music files. Musicians that stop fighting it will benefit, those that continue to fight will die. Either way we no longer need the middlemen who've leeched off artists for decades, and I don't see anyone crying." Or as another user, jcallina, put it: "This [the court's decision] sounds just plain silly. Too simple to get around if they want it to stick." According to Napster, 50 million people were using its service. Now those 50 million people are seriously angry.

Datastream: No surprise that the sometimes spacey, sometimes ragged, sometimes countrified L. A.-based guitar trio Acetone are signed to Neil Young and his manager's Vapor Records label. Their fourth album, York Blvd., may have been released last year, but you probably missed it. The sometimes-languid rhythms, occasional tonal coloration of a steel guitar and slacker vocals are surprisingly compelling. Sometimes York Blvd. is reminiscent of Wilco's debut, which is, perhaps, a way of saying that there's a bit of early Neil Young and Crazy Horse in these tracks. We're enchanted by "19," but the album's highlight is probably "Stray." But then you might prefer another of the album's 10 mesmerizing tracks.

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

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