Chuck D on "Downloadable Music" (Was: Napster - the quiet revolution)

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From: Joseph Reagle (
Date: Mon Feb 28 2000 - 07:21:30 PST

At 03:33 AM 2/27/00 -0600, Jeff Bone wrote:
>Okay, so Napster is old, old news now. So I won't talk about how, in a
>very subtle way, Napster has completely changed my music listening life
>in the last few months.

I was at a Harvard Law conference on this topic on Friday, I was keen to
hear Chuck D, and his rant was well worth the effort, very educational.
Things I learned (in my own words)

1. When large companies merge (big 5 -> big 3), the carefully orchestrated
release time-tables are compressed, and even more artists are dropped or
pushed back.
2. The market is a winner-take-all game. Big studios produce big acts,
hoping for the big pay-off. Consequently, many artists pay huge
production/studio fees. When Chuck D asked about this, he was told, "for
every one of you, there are 10 people that didn't make it." He responded,
"what do they have to do with me?"
3. Part of the production cost is promotion, getting air play, getting on
MTV, wining-dining-DJs and sending college DJs to Hawaii to party with
4. All of this leads to the artist (if they make it) seeing about 13% of the
retail price, then there are taxes and other costs.
5. ChuckD now runs 5 low cost production/studio facilities and he doesn't
need to schedule the artists he produces as part of a big marketing
campaign, he can put their music out their immediately.
6. One of the sponsors ( hopes to cut out a lot of these
middle/production costs, take some of them for their own, and return more to
the artist as well.
(Chuck D) Time mark: 3:32:06 .

Joseph Reagle E0 D5 B2 05 B6 12 DA 65 BE 4D E3 C1 6A 66 25 4E
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin

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