"Money ain't got no owners! Only Spenders!" Omar Little- The Wire
Do you remember the Original Napster? I think that was one of the most revolutionary inventions of the last half of the 20th Century. It was easy to use, you just downloaded the program and you could upload your music and share it with anyone who shared the peer to peer network.
You could share music! It got all eff'ed up because the recording industry raised questions of copyright infringement, licensing and ultimately ownership.
On one hand you had groups like Metallica (Mista Jaycee bangin his head) crying foul as their entire catalog was uploaded to the site and fans worldwide traded and downloaded it. They wanted to get paid for each download.
On the other hand you had artists like Prince who openly challenged digitally selling music. Prince actually proposed selling "The Crystal Ball Album" online years before the whole Napster debate came to the floor only to have Warner Brothers refuse to allow it!
I weighed on the side of the people not cause I don't believe in trademarks and copyrights cause I do! But cause Napster really was just people trading music.
Say for example if Stefanie from over at Curvaceous Cuban uploaded the new LEDISI album, I can now listen to it and decide if I want to buy it! I can download it and burn a copy.
"But that's taking money out of LEDISI'S Pocket Mista Jaycee!"
Possibly! Sometimes, yeah! But it also introduces her to a new person who may be interested but wary of buying the album. For the record, Albums that I really end up liking I go and buy.
What if it only has one good song on it? What if it sux?
$17.50 is alot of money to spend on a compact disc for it to only have 2 good songs on it!
The other thing was that if LEDISI put out an independent or several years before she was on a major label and some guy in Sweden had it then he posted it and I got to hear her before she blew up! You see that's a benefit for her and the record company because now they can re-release the material they have that might not have sold then as well as things that were in the vault!
Metallica for example was a fringe, speed metal band in the 1980's! They had a cult following but speed metal in the 80's was obscure! You really had to like speed metal to find them! So bands like Slayer, Metallica and Megadeath could have used the exposure from a Napster! A dedicated fan would have posted his collection and traded it!
Metallica might have seen an upswing in ticket sales at their club dates! Just think Albums like "Ride the Lightning!" and "Justice for All!" might have actually sold THEN instead of after they got really, really, really famous!
What would have happened if Prince "Black Album" never got released as a bootleg? As the legend goes Prince chucked the master recordings cause he didn't like them and someone released them.
Personally, I hated the "Black Album!" Still, do! but tons of Prince fans loved it!
Side note! I don't believe Prince has ever thrown out anything! Naw, that was a shrewd plan that worked!
Now, I am a huge Donnie Hathaway fan! It pissed me off that the record companies have been sitting on material and recordings for years! I'm sure some bean counter and a few lawyers haggled over the rights and the quality of the recordings. I'm sure the recording were quality, it's Donnie Hathaway for Goodness Sakes! But what they really mean when they say that is commercial viability!
Last year they release some previous unreleased live recordings they said themselves that they went through thousands of hours of live concerts and found Donnie doing an incredible version of Stevie Wonder's "SuperWoman" Where were you when I needed you? Donnie Hathaway recorded that gem at UCLA in 1972 while opening for Roberta Flack! Donnie's been gone since 1980!
Ok, so a record company doesn't think this recording is commercially viable and they don't release it but is that right? These are the same people who thought Marvin Gaye's career would be over when he released an album of Protest songs called "What's going on?"
I don't think any company should have right to say we are not going to release something and then let it rot in a closet or vault!
A record company should have the opportunity to get paid from an investment but not to horde material for infinity!
So back to Napster! I might have an out of print copy of "Miles Davis Sings!"
Commercially Viable? Well........ No, I don't have Miles Davis sings!
But so what! William Hung and William Shatner released musical albums! Who's to say that you shouldn't be able to hear Miles Davis singing "I've got you under my Skin Dammit! ??????
It's like Omar said "Money ain't got no owners! Only spenders! same with Art!"
What Y'all think?
BE Mindful! BE Prayerful! BE Careful!