September 10, 2001
Music 'after Napster' debated at Glenn
By Eric Rangus firstname.lastname@example.org
Near the end of the question-and-answer period of the panel discussion
After Napster, held Sept. 5 in Glenn Auditorium, musician,
record executive and Emory alumna Amy Ray summed up the viewpoint of a
lot of artists concerning the online trading of music.
We want you to have free access, but we also want to make a living,
said the dark-haired half of the Indigo Girls. Maybe we cant
have it both ways.
For 90 minutes, in front of a crowd of about 150 the subjects of online
music, artists compensation for their work, and the tangled web
of the music industry in general were good-naturedly discussed by a panel
that included Ray (who, in addition her singing and songwriting, is the
owner of the Atlanta-based independent label Daemon Records); Regina Davenport,
art and repertoire director of Aquemni Records, which is owned by the
Atlanta-based hip-hop group Outkast; and music industry attorney Bobby
Assistant Professor of Sociology Timothy Dowd moderated the panel, which
was sponsored by the Center for Ethics.
More a conversation than a debatevery rarely did any of the panelists
opinions clashthe trio on stage addressed not only the specific
issue of downloading and trading music online but devoted much of the
evening to a dissection of the music industry in general.
When you are a listener of music, a consumer of music and a fan
of music, you dont think about the business of music, said
Rosenbloom, whose firm represents both musicians and record labels. The
core of the music business is not about distributing music, its
about creating stars. They may not be the best or the most important,
but its whats being marketed. The business is about selling
to mass markets. Keeping that in mind should help frame this whole discussion.
In that sort of atmosphere, the artists who most often lose out are the
independent ones. And its those musicians that Ray is most concerned
about. Independent artists, she said, need to learn about what is happening
and ensure they have a seat in the table.
As an independent artist and a major label artist that is sometimes
disenfranchised, I just dont want the major labels in charge of
the debate, Ray said.
Davenport, who kept a lower profile on stage than Rosenbloom and Ray,
said the Internet was a good thing in how it widens the available audience,
but the drawback is that artists have no way to track who is listening,
which impedes their development.
It was a subject Ray touched on as well. When youre running
an indie label, it would be good to know who is getting the music,
she said. I mean, Should we play in Des Moines, Iowa, because
people like us there? You dont know.
Other subjects brought up included costs (Ray: CDs are way more
expensive than they should be.), the law (Rosen-bloom: Does
copyright law [properly] apply old standards to new technology that is
not necessarily good?) and radio (Ray: No one is listening anymore.
A lot needs to be fixed.).
Dowd, who opened the evening with a brief but enlightening story about
the advent of free music on the radio in the 1920s and how record companies
tried to shut it down, saved the biggest question for last: What is a
responsible and moral use of online music?
Generally, its not a good thing, Rosenbloom said. A
responsible Internet user should be getting music by more legitimate means.
Ultimately youre hurting yourself in the long run. There may not
be a way to stop this, and its probably not as bad as its
going to get. Record sales are strong. But as technology develops and
the need to go out and buy a CD diminishes, this will certainly turn into
a big problem.
The best thing, said Ray, who played in clubs for years before landing a record deal, is to download a song, then go see a band live.