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Napster Helps RIAA Again; RIAA Still Ungrateful (Updated) 413

One year ago, we ran a story about the effects of Napster on the RIAA's 1999 profits, which Michael gave the great title: "Pirates Steal Negative $1,400,000,000 from Music Industry." It's a year later, the new numbers are out, and the RIAA is lying through their pointy little teeth about them. The AP wire story's second paragraph says "Sales of music compact discs fell by 39% last year," which they would have quickly seen was a blatant lie if they'd bothered to look at the numbers. Fortunately, Slashdot is here to bust up the spin. Keep reading, if you aren't afraid of numbers.

(Update one hour later by J : The story was on the AP wire, e.g. here, so it's not the BBC's fault. It was unfair of me to single out the Beeb when they just happened to be the source the submittor submitted this morning.)

The RIAA's figures were released last week, but the AP story was delayed until Monday, when the story would get the most exposure.

CD sales plummeted last year in the U.S. and record industry officials say the figures prove that Napster, the Internet music-sharing service, has harmed their business.

Sales of music compact discs fell by 39% last year according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

"Napster hurt record sales," said RIAA president Hilary Rosen.

This article reads like it might have been ghost-written by someone from the record industry. It isn't until paragraph ten that journalistic integrity kicks in enough for the AP to quietly mention what they're actually talking about:

Some experts say [sic] the drop of CD singles as being part of an industry-wide slump, due to economic factors and a weak year musically. (Emphasis mine.)

That's right, CD singles. Unit sales for the singles were down 39%, revenue down 36% (they raised prices, of course).

And CD singles account for how much of the RIAA's profits?

Not quite one percent.

Yes, that's right: they lost 36% of 1% of their profits.

And the news media is reporting it as a 39% loss.

The facts are that their "CD sales" are up this year, even over last year's stunning performance. The RIAA increased the average price of a full-length CD from $13.65 to $14.02, and still managed to sell 3,600,000 more of them.

Total profit increase on this, the core of their business, was 3.1%, or just shy of an extra $400,000,000.

But full-length CDs only account for 92% of the RIAA's revenue. They did have weak performance in the other 8%. CD singles, as already noted, dropped revenue by 36%. But the real casualty percentage-wise was cassingles, which lost over 90% of its revenue from last year.

Gee, why could that be? Maybe because nobody wants them?

In fact, the RIAA's only real money-losing format of any significance was cassettes, which, along with music videos, were the only format actually cut in price. Cassette revenue dropped $436 million.

Wait a minute, what am I saying? "Money-losing"? They aren't losing money on cassettes -- they're just not raking it in this year as fast as last year. And gee, why might that be? Again, because nobody wants them?

And it's not like the RIAA is struggling to get by on slim profits. The big picture is that, in the last nine years, they have tripled their annual income.

But they are desperate to spin this as a loss. The actual fact is that their total revenue is down 1.8% from 1999. Last year, they made $14,584,500,000. This year, they made $14,323,000,000.

But how could they blame Napster if they told the truth? What would they say? "Napster is killing us! Our income is down almost two whole percent! We are only pulling in $14,323,000,000 this year!"

That probably wouldn't fly.

Especially because in the three categories which Napster has precisely zero effect on -- cassettes, vinyl, and music videos -- their combined year-to-year loss was $579.5 million.

That's right. In the digital formats which Napster can trade, they are making more money: $318,500,000 more revenue. In the analog and video formats where Napster is irrelevant, they are making less money: $579,500,000 less revenue.

That's the real story here.

But don't trust the press to report this one fairly. Don't trust the RIAA's press release. Go read the RIAA's numbers yourself.

(Hell, don't even trust those numbers -- they don't add up. I was silly enough to type them into a spreadsheet, and someone over there has some problems doing simple arithmetic. Their 1998 total revenue includes the DVDs twice.)

The RIAA is desperately trying to spin this so that they won't look like greedy bastards for turning down Napster's offer of a billion dollars over the next five years.

If they just took that generous offer, then -- in a year that the AP wire suggests might be an "industry-wide slump, due to economic factors and a weak year musically," and in a year for which Bertlesmann admits "we didn't put that much good stuff out" -- their revenue would only be down $111,000,000 from last year. And that would have been $750,000,000 more than they made in 1998.

But that isn't enough for them.

Why would anyone think the RIAA is greedy? They just want what's coming to them.

(Update one hour later by J : Mea culpa. Three paragraphs up, I originally calculated the numbers as if the billion dollars was all applied in one year; that isn't so. The billion would have been applied equally over the next five years. Actually it probably wouldn't have been applied to year-2000 revenue at all, so it's more of a rhetorical point than anything. Thanks to dachshund for pointing out that it wasn't a lump-sum payment.)

(Update four hours later by J : The AP wire seems to have updated its story, now stating explicitly that it's CD singles, not "CDs," which dropped 39%. I see factually correct versions now at CNN, Salon, Yahoo, and (search on Napster). The BBC version is still incorrect. In my opinion, the new versions are still misleading. Focusing on a large percentage drop within a subcategory which is a tiny percentage of the whole is a classic example of how to lie with statistics. But compare this to the RIAA's press release, claiming that CD singles had "flat growth in '98 and '99," though 1998 revenue actually dropped 22% -- that's just plain lying.)

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Napster Helps RIAA Again; RIAA Ungrateful

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  • Overlooked among all the misleading things the RIAA has said in this context is their gross misunderstanding of what it would actually take to demonstrate something like harm from Napster.

    This kind of correlational observation is not helpful, no matter how you slice it. RIAA profits could have dropped precipitously and it would not be clear Napster had anything to do with it. Their profits could have doubled, and no one could prove that Napster hadn't done them harm.

    The basic truth is that no one, not the RIAA, not a single Slashdot reader, not even Kurt Loder, knows how well the RIAA would have done last year if Napster hadn't been around. The world did an uncontrolled experiment, and interpreting the results is going to be more of an art than a science. The art is in estimating how well the RIAA would have done last year in a world without Napster.

    That said, of all the imaginable face-valid ways to estimate what we should have expected the numbers to look like without Napster, I would say that simply looking at the change from last year is probably the worst.
  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:19AM (#401096)
    and so I'm waiting for a lawsuit aimed at those "newfangled motor cars" by the buggywhip companies.

    get real, RIAA. you did not stay in touch with technology (ie, you didn't move with the times and start distributing individual songs over the net, so napster did that for you, sort of) so you lose some ground.

    this is basic economics. you can't fight it, hard as you may try.

    all the buggywhip companies either found a new product line to produce or just plain went out of business. is it "progress's" fault for this?


  • This is how the movie business works. The way people make it in both industries (and to a lesser extent most others)is by kissing ass and making connections. Both businesses work on the same model, known as "Absolute Evil and Greed" in industry parlance. They are both effectivly interchangable outgrowths of the enormous Los Angeles bullshit industry; a bunch of spoilt adults who think because they have no tangable skills they are entitled to a huge pile of cash for essentially nothing. Most of the people who make most of the money do none of the work. What work they do consists of shmoozing at parties...and making phone calls. If these execs, known as "bastards" in the business, have any, actual no-fun boring work to do they force their unpaid interns to do it (known as "exploited slaves" in the business). These interns work hard to prove they are good at making copies and stacking cookies, as these are the skills that demonstrate your innate ability to run a major corporation. The actual work is done by hard working, under-paid working class stiffs, or over-paid unionized stiffs that pull 14 hour days 365 days a year.

    But I'm not bitter. No. Not at all.


  • by fiore42 ( 145493 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:20AM (#401102)
    The RIAA and the average Slashdotter have the same basic mistake - this has nothing to do with profits.

    To elaborate - the fundamental moral issue is independent of money raked in. Music companies could be going bankrupt, or they could be worth 300% their current value, and the fundamental issue would remain unaltered.

    The question is not profits, but property rights, and anything else is a totally extraneous question.
  • Seriously...if someone got a hold of one of the minidisc recordings of my band's practice sessions and found it so intriguing that they made copys for their friends, or put it up on Napster, I'd have no problem with that at all. (Providing that it was properly credited as our work.)

    Of course if you had studio and tour expenses to pay for and saw someone downloading your stuff off of Napster instead of putting that money back in your pocket you might have a different opinion. If music is what you do for a living, you should expect to be paid for it. That's the difference. Making love to your SO is not a career. Having pets is not a career. For some people their music is their career. If people stopped paying you for whatever it is you do during the day (you do work right?) wouldn't you get a little ticked?

  • When RIAA claims that Napster is the cause of decreasing singles sales, they commit the same error. It is incorrect, but fun, to take their own logic error, and applying it towards themselves.
  • You know, 10 years ago (hell, 5 years ago) the RIAA's claims would have gone unchallenged. The problem with old media is that they can't come to grips with the dissemination of information that the Internet provides. They still claim they're making no money, that revenues are down, and they try to use the Internet as a scapegoat, when in reality it's their own reluctance to change. We still occasionally hear that movie companies, record labels, television station, etc., are either losing money or just breaking even. This worked years ago when nobody could check they numbers or question them. It always seemed odd that a CD cost $20, 10 millions copies sold, a tour sold out across the world with tickets costing $50 a pop, everybody was wearing the band's t-shirt, and every station was playing their latest single 20 times a day, and yet the label wasn't making money. Same goes for the movies that grossed $300 million.

    Now, the numbers are easily accessed, and the companies try to put use the same rhetoric. "We're broke, sales are down, blah, blah, blah", but nobody believes them because the numbers are there, and people can add. Now, if you're pulling in $14.6 billion in revenues, what possible reason would there be to raise prices? Could it be greed? The mentality is skewed. They assume that by charging more, they can sell the same amount and therefore make more money. Do these people not realize that if I have the option of buying a Dave Matthews Band CD for $15 instead of $25, I'll choose the $15 one? And if the cheaper option is taken away, then I won't buy it at all. Disposable income isn't infinite. If they would lower the prices (like we were told would happen once CD became an accepted medium), then they would sell possibly millions more, and increase their revenues to even more ridiculous heights.

    But no, the media companies still rely on lies and deceit to cover their collective asses. I had nothing but respect for BMG, saying "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" and hooking up with Napster, realizing the possibilities. And now I have even more after the "it wasn't a good music year" quote. Honesty is a refreshing change of pace in this industry.

    However, the Napster arguement is unfounded from both sides. To say that it's hurting sales is ridiculous when sales are up. To say it's helping sales is just as ludicrous when there's nothing to prove causation between the numbers. Sales are more likely up due to the mega-pop-stars of the last couple years, Britney Spears, N-Sync, Backstreet Boys, etc.. These groups are some of the only people who can sell out 60,000 seat arenas and sell millions of albums in their first week. Manufactured fame is pulling in a lot more money that real talent these days.

    However, the RIAA has every right to be scared. True, Napster isn't hurting them today, but if they continue to refuse to embrace emerging technologies, continue to raise prices, and continue to rip off their artists, then it will eventually hurt them. Look at many European countries (especially Russia and former soviet states), piracy there makes North America look like we're just making copies of a friend's tape. Billions are legitimately lost to bootlegs and pirated copies of music in these places. The RIAA's fear is that the U.S., their most important market, will follow suit in the coming years. What they don't realize is that they are driving this market away with their own greed and short-sightedness.

    In an ideal world, people would use Napster to download rare singles, covers, live concerts, and other material not readily available. Fanning's creation would be used to get that song I just heard on the radio, check out a couple other titles from the band, and then I'd go out and buy their CD for $10. (Or better yet, DOWNLOAD IT FROM THE LABEL'S SITE for $7 + s&h for the actual disc). However, this isn't an ideal world, and while a good number of Napster users do exactly this (minus the CD only costing $10), many others use it for free music. Maybe this is due to cost, maybe it's just due to the fact that many people have the "why pay for it if I don't have to?" mentality. But it's my opinion that having a good-sized CD collection is a bit of a status symbol, and that the money spent by the people who use Napster to sample bands outweighs any revenue lost due to the people who download the whole album and burn it to a CD.

    Besides, everyone knows that the real money comes from merchandise sales and concert attendance. Both of which Napster use can only increase.

  • Crap, I haven't seen a new one of these in years. You mean to say they've been making them all this time? Who the heck buys them anyways? I mean who doesn't own a cd player?
  • a spin is still a spin.

    Well, no. I'm looking at the numbers in context. The RIAA is focusing solely on 1% of their market which saw reduced sales, and making out of it a much bigger deal than it is.

    from a cursory scan of the original post (and, if I'm in any way wrong, feel free to shoot me down) he at one point designates the CD singles base as "1%", then later recognizes it as "8%". Which is it?

    CD singles are 1% of the total revenue (my spreadsheet says 0.9963%).

    Cassettes, cassingles, vinyl LPs, vinyl singles, and music videos together are another 6.748%.

    So the total non-full-length-CD market is 7.744%, which I called 8%.

    (Four significant figures is as close as I can get, because there's roundoff error; the total revenue on my spreadsheet for 2000 is $14,323.7 million but the RIAA claims only $14,323.0 million.)

    single sales have to be viewed in light of the artist. ... their older brothers came around and downloaded Napster for the family machine.

    Look at it this way. If CD single sales had dropped entirely to zero, it would only have decreased their total revenues by 1%. Meanwhile, full-length CD sales from 1999 increased the RIAA's income by 2.3% of total revenue from last year.

    As I mentioned, the digital audio sales are up from 1999; it's the analog and video sales that are down.

    Jamie McCarthy

  • I say let the RIAA piss off their customers. I was happily using Napster, or getting sample MP3s in other ways and buying CD's for a long time. Now, the RIAA has gone too far. I WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES puchase another shrink-wrapped CD. Luckily, blank CD's are nice and cheap, now. There are probably lots of people who feel the same as I do. It may take a while, but the RIAA will figure out what they did wrong when it's too late.

  • by waspleg ( 316038 )
    unfortunately you're preaching to the choir here, the real trick would be to get this article on CNN ;)
  • Maybe true. But slashdot caters to a croud that obviously has a huge interest in free music. Or just music in general. There are also other issues at work here.

    We are possibly watching the breakup of a major cartel. My parents had VietNam. I've got the dawning of the digital age. A digital world impacting huge corporations that spend 200 million dollars a year just in legal expenses. Why does Napster get more bad publicity than the PROOF of the Big-5 collaborating and setting illegal prices in stores?? Proof that Bo Didley has no money to his name, yet created Rock & Roll??

    Maybe I'm the guy who ran to Canada instead of going to VietNam, and you're the ROTC punk who thinks it's your duty to go to war. Whichever was right or wrong, it's still a controversy today, much like this issue could possibly be.


  • Napster has actually encouraged me to buy more CD's. Before Napster, it was impossible to tell which albums by an interesting artist were good, so I tended to only buy stuff that I'd heard on the radio recently. Nowdays, let's see, I'm reading a review where this guy says he was influenced by Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, let's go do a web search on Nick Drake and Leonard Cohen, hmm, those guys look interesting, what albums did they put out? Hmm, let's listen to a couple of songs off of this "Pink Moon" album. Sounds pretty nifty, think I'll go buy it. Hmm, Patti Smith? Wonder whether she was any good. Naw, don't like that sound. Don't buy it. But they're still $15 ahead of where they would have been before Napster.


  • I used to buy 20-25 cds a year, but after the RIAA and bertelsman/seagrams decided to campaign to destroy my rights, as well as the rights of musicians, I swore I would buy no more.

    In the last few months, I have backslidden, and bought about 4 new cds. I honesty feel bad that by buying their products, I am harming myself, musicians, and (to an extent) all people everywhere.

    BTW, I have never used a "free" music service except for free downloads from, and have never infringed.

    Buy a cd, buy a microsoft product...and I/we erode everyone's rights.

  • Napster has not been viewed, at least that I have read, as a revenue mining mechanism. I use a napster-like service, but never download music that I would purchase. CDs still provide better sound quality, which is not important for those "remember that" songs that most people I know tend to download. If this is the case for most people, the RIAA might want to reconcider the offer as it is pure "gravy" or revenue that they would not ear anyway. As for singles, maybe people are tierd of the format. Afterall, radio seems to overplay any cut released on a single format at a much faster pace today. I am also of the opnion that music offerigs in the last few years have become less desirable. Maybe the RIAA shold look into original artists instead of chasing the next copy-band?
  • Just because a vast majority of the free & democratic news outlets parrot what the RIAA says doesn't make those news outlets any less free.

    That's true, on some theoretical level. The problem is that many people equate free with unbiased. Of course, bias is a part of any opinion or story, but people generally view the media as being an accurate representation of what is going on in the world. Clearly, it is not, and that is unacceptable. Don't tell me to quit bitching when these pathetic media outlets blatently lie every day. Some level of integrity is needed. And yes, I also know we all have a responsibilty to get out there and help end the problem.
  • Oh, they will though! They've already got DECSS and now MPEG4, and bandwidth going up... newsgroups with bootleg movies out there already. VCD tools, etc.

    MP3's hit supernova just when compression was at the magic point with bandwidth. It'll only be time before trading movies is the same as mp3's.


  • 1% for CD singles, 8% for everything excluding full length CDs (tapes, cassingles, videos).

    Point two is still a good one.

  • by Anoriymous Coward ( 257749 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @12:25PM (#401146) Journal
    instead of full albums of songs they haven't be clandestinely programmed into about

    You weren't by any chance translating video games from Japanese to English in about 1989, were you?
    #include "stdio.h"
  • I hate to repeat the obvious, but the reason that the media reported the losses the way they did is because of who owns them.

    ABC is owned by Disney(who owns many record companies) for example.

    Any major record label these days is owned by a company that owns atleast one(upto 50) tv/radio stations, not to mention newspapers.

    The point is is that almost all media is biased. Period.

    P.S. I've bought about 30 CDs in the last 6 months. All of them from
  • Ah, yes, now I remember. Such smells are easily forgettable, even after a short time out of "this fucking hole we call L.A." (care of Tool). I spent 6 months of hell there, and finally moved away. I'm happy now.

  • by MrResistor ( 120588 ) <> on Monday February 26, 2001 @12:29PM (#401150) Homepage
    don't bullshit me that it's not a few hours of work, because it is. Programming is the same thing. Sure it make take me years to improve my skills, but the chances of me ever getting paid $20,000,000 USD for one song/program are next to zero

    Actually, it is more than a few hours of work. for every song that gets written, there are a hundred more that just never quite seem to work. It took you years to improve your programming skills, and it's taken me years to improve my musical skills (15 so far). Additionally, music is a much more expensive than programming, and musicians are far less likely to get paid than programmers. Also, a musician is totally exposing themselves to their audience. Hopefully not in the pornographic sense, but certainly in an emotional and spiritual sense. The audience can tell if you aren't and will quickly lose interest. That aspect is simply not present in programming and that's why this isn't a very good comparison.

    Back to the getting paid thing, I would say that it is fairly likely that your programming skills will earn you over 1,000,000 USD over 15 to 20 years. My musical skills, on the other hand, have cost me roughly 15,000 USD over the last 15 years with absolutely no return at all. This is the case for the vast majority of musicians. If someone were to decide that one of my songs were worth 1,000,000 USD tommorrow, that would put me roughly on par with what you will most likely make in 15 years of programming. The problem, of course, is that while you get to keep your 1M USD, I have to pay 200k to the record company for producing the album, another 200k for equipment to tour in support of the album (not to mention the cost of having to spend a year away from my wife and daughter), and the rest is split up between the band members. My last band had 6 members, which means 100k each. 100k for 15 years of work. You call that a big payoff? You would be surprised how many big musicians have had to file bankrupcy at least once, some even at the peak of their success (TLC comes to mind, but I know there are many others). The honest truth is that the only people making money off of music are the big record companies.

    I think what the RIAA is really afraid of is that musicians now have other channels through which to distrubute their music. It isn't really digital music that scares them, but their own impending irrelevence.

  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @11:10AM (#401151) Homepage Journal

    The question is not profits, but property rights, and anything else is a totally extraneous question.

    Except that copyrights are not property. They are a limited-time monopoly right conferred by the government.

    Property is tangible; rights are not. Property can be stolen; rights can only be infringed.

    The RIAA/MPAA/SIAA are relying on the misconceptions they've sown over the past few decades to confuse the debate, to get people arguing over the wrong things while they loot your wallet and strip your rights. Be smarter than that.


  • Just curious, but was there a point to your post? If not, just as good...

  • This is by far the best Slashdot article posted in the last few months. We need more investigative reporting like this. Excellent work, jamie. You've tossed a gem into what is otherwise turning into a huge pile of worthless coal.


  • oops, double post *bang* *bang*

    And instead of Lars Ulrich / Metallica giving a bitter taste in our mouth, it'll end up being Tom Cruise and his wacky Scientology bunch beating up 14 year olds for downloading movies. (See for flash-references)

  • Big Oil has, up until recently, been against alternative power sources. Only now that it's becomming abundantly clear that the oil supply isn't going to last another 50-80 years do we see their tunes change. Now we find companies like BP having an increasing interest in developing solar power technology. Why? They know their number is up and are changing to fit with the times so they can survive.

    I think that oil companies are far more concerned about environmental issues, both from a customer perception and a regulatory viewpoint. The amount of true alternative-energy research being done by these companies pales in comparison with the amount of oil they are selling. They are, however, tyring to "look green", since the next generation of oil consumers are the same enviro-nuts rioting in Seattle.

    There also is the risk of severe carbon regulation if fear of global warming becomes significant. In which case, the oil companies will have to figure out how to make money without emitting CO2.

    But in terms of oil running out, there is no indication that this will happen within a timeframe important to the oil companies right now.
  • So, in short, the RIAA's claims about lost revenue are FUD, but they know that if Napster survives long enough, they won't be.

    FUD their claims may be, but if Napster is victorious, we'll see even more massive consolidation [] of content/distribution and hardware/software.

    We'll be awash in memory sticks, minidiscs, and other check-in-but-don't-check-out formats. There are only four big record companies now, and they will all be owned by hardware manufacturers soon enough.

    Matsushita/AOL/Time-Warner... that's got a nice ring to it.

  • It's more than a few hours. It takes me about twenty minutes to write one minute of music, and I'm *fast* compared to every artist I know.
    Supposing that a band is composed of four people, and they practice a song individually ten times before meeting together to practice it ten times, and then recording it, which consists of sound checks between *every* song (unless you want the sound quality to slowly go out the window as your recording session goes on), and recording each part individually (if you record several parts at once, you can run into a LOT of balance problems), say, five times just to make sure there's no noticeable mistakes...
    So to produce 25 songs of 3 minutes each (since 1/5 to 2/5 of songs don't make the cut for the CD) takes 25 hours to write, 50 hours individual practice, 12 hours group practice, and 25 hours in the studio... Assuming that the songwriting and recording is split equally among all four people, 25/4+50+12+25/4 hours per person is 74.5 hours per person for what is probably less than 45 minutes of music. And as the band size goes up, it takes far more time to practice it as a group.
    I'm not even including instrument sound checks, tuning, warm-up, etc. in the total time, either. That's almost two solid weeks of work at forty hours per week, and doesn't include the tours to back it up. Because there's no way in hell people are going to buy your cd unless the radio plays you or they hear you play on tour somewhere, and everybody knows the radio sucks.
    Assuming a small tour of twelve gigs in two weeks, that each pay probably a few hundred dollars, that's another two weeks down the drain. Not only that, but you've only earned a measly six grand to split between the four members, AND all the roadies you hired, AND the manager that planned your tour, AND to pay for the vans, AND to cover the cost of the rented equipment you had to take (since you can't ensure that any gig will have a decent P.A. system already there).

    Never mind recording studios, they're often $20/hour or more, and that's for the cheap ones. Since you spent the good part of a week for CD production in the recording studio, you probably managed to throw away about $500 there.

    CD production isn't cheap, either. Between the costs of pressing a CD ($500/2000), having the artwork printed onto the CD ($200/2000), having the inserts printed and the CD put in a case ($300/2000), you've used up another $1000 per 2000 cd's. Yes, fifty cents per CD, but the minimum purchase is often 2000.

    So you've now spent (assuming the tour only cost about $15,000), roughly $20,000 from start to finish, and managed to scrap up $6,000 income. Congratulations. One month's work and you've *lost* $14,000. Not to mention that, but in order to get radio airplay, you often have to send the radio stations the CD. True, they pay royalties, but over a year's time you'll only make a few dollars form each station. If the song was popular. For, say, 1000 stations nationally, with $3 shipping each, you may make a few hundred dollars of radio sales. But you'll probably just lose money their.

    Now to ship to the music stores. Another several hundred down the drain. You've made a total of -$16,000.

    So you can't afford to tour again yet, or to record more songs. So, in the meantime, you practice the songs so you can pull them off really well live, in the event that the CD sells well enough to back another tour.

    Just think, there's three other band members who have been living out of their bank accounts for longer than one month now. If you're lucky, they still have some money left, because chances are your CD won't really start to sell for another few months.

    A few hours? Well, maybe.
  • by Ted V ( 67691 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:36AM (#401179) Homepage
    In related news, studies have shown that people who own BMWs are richer than those who own Volvos. According to top economist Richard P. Fudgemocker, "This is proof that the key to financial success is spending money on an expensive car."

    Earl Worthly, a certified financial planner, supports Fudgemocker's claim. "I encourage all my clients to buy expensive cars because of the strong link between owning expensive cars and high salaries. Most of the time a BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes is sufficient. But sometimes one of my clients is in dire need of financial assistance, or just wants to fast track. For them, I recommend a Porsche or Lamborghini."

    Volvo dealers are outraged by this news. Many Volvo customers have attempted to return their cars. "I can't believe I bought a volvo, jeaprodizing the 20% raise I received at my job!" said Mary Edgerman, a recently promoted manager at UA-Corp. "I owe it to my familty to buy a far more expensive car. What if I got a pay cut because of my Volvo?"

    Most major auto manufacturers predict a shift to higher end cars, trucks, and SUVs. An anonymous Marketting executive at GM confirmed that prices will drastically increase for their entire line of Cadillacs. "It's scientifically proven that expensive automobiles are the key to financial success. At GM, we offer even more financial stability by raising the sticker cost. We're banking on a 10% increase in sales, but 15% wouldn't suprise us either."

    Film at 11...
  • Big 4? Honestly... What happened to Bitg Guy #5?


  • Folks,

    I think one of the reasons why there seem to be much haggling over Napster is the very fact that here in the USA, the average album-length audio CD costs anywhere between US$13 to US$17. In some countries, it's even MORE expensive: the cost of an album-length CD in Japan is around 3000 yen (about US$26 at current exchange rates).

    This, in my opinion, is pretty much extortion pricing for music. I can understand the high prices of audio CD's during the early days of the format when pressing plants are few and very expensive to setup, but we've advanced technology to the point that commercial-quality CD's are actually less expensive to manufacture than the old vinyl LP's.

    Anyone who's taken a first-year college course in economics know this is essentially cartel pricing. Because there is much incentive to undercut cartel pricing, that's why things like Napster and Gnutella came into being.

    The RIAA needs to stop sticking its proverbial head in the sand and do what should have been done a long ago: lower the price of the average album-length audio CD to between US$8 and US$9. And the RIAA should propose a standard to sell music digitally online at a rate of around eight US cents per minute, which would translate to about US$4.80 per hour.

    With digital music distribution like that, the record companies could actually make a massive windfall from online sales. Imagine having their entire music collection stored on high-bandwidth servers, and sold to customers at a rate of eight cents per minute. Remember, you don't need to factor in the cost of CD production and packaging, which means much less overhead and bigger profits.

    In short, the RIAA shouldn't be fighting technology, they should be finding a way to embrace it.
  • there are the marketing droids to upkeep, sound engineers too ... a bunch of people in the recording process that need money

    Actually, those costs aren't payed by the record company. In most cases, marketing costs are payed by the band that records the album, deducted from their royalties.

    Teamsters need to get paid to drive those trucks from manufacturing to the stores.

    Nope, they get paid by the retailers (in every retail store I've been in the cost of shipment is paid by the receiver, not the shipper.)
  • heh. Actually, I do know the solution, and yeah you're correct. Stuff like this just depresses me.

    1) I don't buy all that many cd's nowdays, and of those I do, most are from small labels anyway. I fully embrace mp3's, and wish all artists had some sort of street performers protocol setup so I could donate money that goes to them and not some marketing machine...

    2) I try to do this to some extent, often people think I'm strange since they're so brainwashed by consumer culture, however. It's easier with cd's, since the price is so rediculous and has actually gone up over the past 5 years or so.

    3) Well, you can only do so much, and admittedly I haven't done any voluteer work, although I want to. I wouldn't mind doing some culture jamming [].
  • 200 million a year, if I remember correctly (TM).

    Of course, it's just used to propogate itself. Not really an expense, more like an investment. I mean can you believe copyrights don't even revert to the family AFTER death of the artist? I mean, how did they pull that one over everyone last year?


  • ABC is owned by Disney(who owns many record companies) for example.

    This is incorrect. Disney does not own any record companies. The only US company which owns any record companies is AOL-TW, which owns Warner Bros.

  • They'd probably have a lot less of them if they stopped suing people. Then they wouldn't be so worried about a teaspoon full of money being scooped from their ocean.
  • Would it be a good idea to start a publishing house that works on the lines of sites ... where musicians can place their music for download or for sale as CDs.. ... users can select a list of songs and then pay to have these songs cut on CDs and sent to them.

    The musicians can also provide premium services by selling CDs with bonus tracks, software, posters, stickers, t-shirts etc... perhaps autographed stuff and so on.. [] has been doing this for years, and I'm sure there are at least several other sites like it. I don't know whether they sell posters, stickers, t-shirts, or autographed stuff, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do for some of their more successful bands. You can download tracks from any of thousands of artists that have put their music on, and order reasonably priced CD-Rs that contain tracks in both CD audio and MP3 format. Exclusive songs are often featured on these CDs as extra incentive to buy. I think this is a good way for indie artists to gain exposure.

  • From here: r.cdsales.ap/index.html

    LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Sales of CD singles plummeted last year, and recording industry officials say the figures prove that Napster, the Internet music-swapping service, has cut into their business.

    Shipments of CD singles sank by 39 percent last year, according to data released by the Recording Industry Association of America.

    "Napster hurt record sales," said RIAA president Hilary Rosen.

    --end quote--

    So where did this AP story get changed around at, because they clearly state that it's "singles" on CNN's page.

  • I am glad that you gave an intelligent response to my rant, but I think you would probably answer my question: no. You do not seem to feel that you are entitled to $20 million USD for a few hours of work.

    My question is directed more towards the Lars types out there, who obviously feel that the world owes them something for nothing.

    I do still feel my analogy is the same, because if you don't have any talent as a programmer, you are not getting paid $100k USD per year. Programming is also a 40-80 hour a week job in most circumstances. You find me a "musician" on MTV that works (schmoozing is not working) 200+ hours in a month and I might have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

    From your post above it seems I need to re-write my question a little bit:

    Do you feel entitled to what is equivalent to winning the lottery in return for the, oh, let's be generous and say, six months it took for you write and record a record album?

    If you say yes, I will reply that your morals are flawed. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. You seem to believe in TANSTAAFL. Do all the rest of you musicians believe this too?

  • Where does the rest of that money go?

    You might like to read Steve Albini's The Problem With Music [].

  • One of the best things about /. is that no one can get away with crappy logic. Nobody could get away with a bullshit argument just because most of us want to believe it.

    That would never happen here.

    Jon Katz is right. We really are better than normal people.

    Napster's defenders are not just cleptomaniacs and low-rent communists. Napster doesn't encourage people to steal. Napster is all about freedom of speech.

    If I keep saying it to myself, I begin to believe it.

    I'm cured. Thanks slashdot! []

  • by Christopher Bibbs ( 14 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @09:45AM (#401201) Homepage Journal
    Of course, you also have to take inflation into account. If you don't grow by that rate then it is effectively a loss. Also, we're talking revenue, not profits. I don't care if they take in $100,000,000 US, if the costs are sufficiently high the revenue is moot.
  • You still missed my question. Does your entire 2 weeks of work recording the album entitle you to $20,000,000 US Dollars? Do you think the work you did is worth $20 Million Dollars?

    Do you think it is right to still charge $15 for your CD if you have a monopoly on the music distribution channels, but it only costs you $0.50 to create that CD?

  • Try some of the publications that dedicate themselves to exposing poor reporting, or at least making a living doing good reporting that the other ones miss: Salon Magazine [] might just pick this /. story up on their own... Romenesko's Media News []... Brill's Content []... Reason Online []... USC's Online Journalism Review []... FAIR []
  • How many times do we have to hear "music sales went up in 1999, therefore Napster is actually helping to sell CDs!"

    As an argument on its' own, you're right this makes no sense.. there is no collaborating evidence..

    However taken into account that the RIAA can claim the reverse (when again, there is no evidence) means (to me) that the "pirates" have license to thier claim.. (after all, the claim that Napster's existance has a causal relationship with CD sales was originated by the RIAA... since the RIAA claims that there is a causal relationship, then if the sales go up, then logically it must be because of Napster too, right?)
  • by Raereth ( 42904 ) <> on Monday February 26, 2001 @12:57PM (#401211)
    You musicians out there, do you feel it is your right to be able to live for the rest of your life off of a few hours of work (songwriting/recording)? And don't bullshit me that it's not a few hours of work, because it is. Programming is the same thing. Sure it make take me years to improve my skills, but the chances of me ever getting paid $20,000,000 USD for one song/program are next to zero, while no-talent boy-bands (that's right N-Sync, Backdoor boys, I'm talking about your dumb asses) rake in the dough because the cartels control the distribution of nearly all music. Do you like the fact that your industry is more akin to a lottery than to art?
    Wow, I'm not even sure where to start with this.

    Okay, let's say you're in a band. First thing you have to do is practice, learn to play well together -- but of course, you only have to do that once. Then you'll spend a few months or more writing and perfecting songs. Then, depending on how much cash you have and whether or not you have label backing, you'll spend quite a while in the studio recording it. We're already way beyond 'a few hours', but it isn't necessarily as time-consuming as a full-time job.

    Okay, the CD is recorded and pressed, singles sent out, and so on. It's a hit. The singles are on seemingly infinite loop on radio stations. Now the band sits back and watches the money roll in, content from their 'few hours' of work, right?

    Um, no.

    All of a sudden, everyone wants to see the band. They're being booked for interviews by TV shows and magazines. And then the tour: several months of flying or driving from point A to point B to point C, doing shows every few nights, sometimes even every night. And in between you're making little station ID recordings for radio stations, making more guest appearances, doing more interviews, or stewing in your hotel room. Once it's all over, you get a few months to try to regain your sanity, and then you do it all over again.

    Doesn't really sound like 'a few hours of work' to me.

    I'm not trying to justify the kind profits the music industry makes, especially not the labels. Just realize that most bands who try to make a living off of music are working their asses off, whether they're massively popular or not. Go watch "Meeting People is Easy"; it's a movie about Radiohead, basically following their first tour after OK Computer got so popular. I don't call that the easy life people seem to think music stars have.
  • While cassingles had the biggest drop percentage wise, look at the drop in full length cassettes: 47 million units down (from 123.6 to 76.0) and $435 million drop in dollar value.

    Now I hate to be the devils advocate here (or worse, the RIAA's), but you would think that if people are not buying cassettes they would be shifting their purchases to CD's. And there is nowhere near that increase in CD unit sales to compenstate for this drop. Of course there are plenty of factors that could be contributing to this, for instance the rise of portable mp3 players which obsolete walkman-cassette players, or more cars coming with CD players.

    Maybe a big percentage of cassette sales are now going to CD's. And maybe Napster is cutting into full length CD sales. But the two are offsetting each other pretty much, which makes for the small amount of growth in sales reported.

    Another significant fact is what is not on the list. There is no subscription based revenue, or sales numbers for digital downloads. Now of course we know the industry has been slow to roll out new Internet-based offerings. The fact that it's now 2001 and there is still nothing significant (aside from Napster-Bertlesman deal) in this area while all analog based formats are suffering substantial declines means the record companies are not doing what they need to to continue to enjoy increasing revenues.

    Still, it's ludicrous to focus on a drop in 1% of the industry's business as these articles do.
  • Heheheh, that is pretty funny.


  • I'm very aware of how much money it takes. Do you think it should be illegal for me to open up a gas station next to a popular Texaco because Texaco spent millions researching the location? Do you think that mathematical formulas should be patented simply because the researcher spent decades coming up with it? The idea that ideas are separate entity from things (like, that music is separable from the CD) is a really bad concept. Probably one of Plato's worst (don't get me wrong, I like Plato and Socrates, just not the whole "world of ideas" thing). And, in addition, you never answered the question of whether I should be able to duplicate a hammer that I own. Doubtless the company that made the hammer spent R&D money building it, so should I be able to copy the hammer and give it away?
  • >Would you like someone to take something you made without compensating you for it at all?

    Burn the Radio Stations! Not only do they get their music libraries provided for free (without the *direct* consent of the Artist) but they play the music for MILLIONS and MILLIONS to listen to for nothing, all without the *direct* permission or *direct* compenstaion of the artists!

    Here's my question of the day:

    Why are you letting me "steal" your words by reading them for free right now? I must be one bad dude, breaking all sorts of moral obligations to pay you money for the priviledge of reding your words.

    To rest my soul, please tell me where can I send you some cash?

    To compensate me, please send me an email and I will discuss terms (I usually charge $0.05 per word, but for you I will give a special 20% discount).
  • You know, what I wonder is this: if Napster is, as you claim, helping the RIAA make money, why are they fighting Napster tooth and nail? Money talks, and if indeed Napster was pushing CD sales up, like so many Napster defenders claim, then the RIAA would be shutting up.

    And no, just saying they're dumb doesn't settle the case.

  • There are a few things that can be changed. They are not in the spirit of capitalism, but capitalism isn't in the spirit of democracy anyway.

    1. Media outlets cannot be owned by megacorporations. Any company shouldn't be allowed more than a small number of newspapers / tv stations / radio stations. AOL time warner owns far too many outlets which gives them huge control over pop culture.

    2. Media outlets cannot be controlled by corporations that are in ANY other business. This leads to conflicts of interest.

    3. A more extreme measure, media outlets cannot be for profit entities. The pressure on them to make the big corporations that advertise on their stations is far too great. Kalle Lasn, who runs adbusters magazine, is normally turned down by TV stations to run his TV ads. His ads are usually about not spending your money on crap you don't need, or reducing consumption. The reason he gets rejected? It would anger other advertisers who sells products to the public and drive them away.

    "Control" of actual stories by some agency is too bit extreme to me. The things listed above would go a long way to reducing serious pressures on what goes on the air.
  • How big a cut do record stores and other middlemen take out of the price per CD. What, on average, is the profit on a CD? Just wondering...

  • I'll one up you on that. I prefer to buy full-length albums, but the few music stores I go to don't carry them anymore it seems(or it's on permanent amorutorium(sp?)). I am on the hunt for 2 Blondie releases(as to complete my collection) and several Devo relases, but all they seem to carry is greatest hits compilations and remixes ad nauseum.

    Don't get me started on the unavailability of the Pi soundtrack.

    I have never, EVER purchased a CD single before. Why should I pay $10 or more for a bunch of remixes of the same song? If I want remixes, I go to Napster or a similar service..
  • by Lazarus Short ( 248042 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @09:46AM (#401235) Homepage
    Hey, I'm as much of a fan of Napster as anybody, and I agree that the RIAA's claims are consistently whacked, but everyone repeat after me:

    You cannot declare that X has affected Y to degree Z, unless you can observe Y in the absence of X.

    In other words, unless someone can open an interdimensional portal to some alternate universe in which Napster doesn't exist, all of these claims of revenue being up or down in particular areas are meaningless. There are a countless number of other factors that could be influencing sales of CDs, cassettes, music videos, etc. Saying that Napster is solely responsible for any of it is absurd.


  • by pmc ( 40532 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @11:46AM (#401239) Homepage
    You cannot declare that X has affected Y to degree Z, unless you can observe Y in the absence of X.

    Well, we have

    • Historical Trends - given the state of the economy, how many units would we expect to shift?
    • Other countries - can the level of internet use in a country be correlated with the change in units shifted? Assumes you can correct for differences in economy, musical taste etc (which I think you can, as they market in these countries).

      Intra country - can you link places with more prevalent high speed internet connectivity with changes in units shifted.

      Intra market - can they correlate the type of music that internet users like (or hate) with changes in the units of these types shipped

    It's called market research, and to even suggest that such things cannot be calculated (to varying degrees of accuracy) is naive - they can do it to measure the impact of advertising, so they can certainly do it to measure the impact of Napster.
  • Sonner or later the obsolete RIAA will decide to cut their losses and abandon CDs all together - probably later.

    How long until music is released solely on DVD? The RIAA is going to want to nuzzle up to the DMCA and the whores who bought/sold it. Expect to see "DVD MUSIC"(TM) or somesuch begin to be marketed, it will have 'exciting new features' like included music videos, Performer information, bios, video clips from recent performances - etc etc etc. Its real purpose is to hasten the transition to encrypted media for distribution.

    The Only change to most people is they'll have to rip music from DVDs... one way or the other the RIAA is doomed (and good riddance) (sp?)

  • I use napster, and I have downloaded tons of stuff. I also buy tons of CD's.
    The reason that I buy the CDs nobody seems to point out other than they were able to get the full CD off of napster. I usually buy CDs even if I manage to get the whole thing... if the CD doesn't suck. The reason that I do this is that I want the added value of the liner notes, the lyrics, and goofy pictures of the artists in strange place, or weird art that they have chosen to put on the cover, I want the silk screened CD, and the possible collectors value of the whole thing, and last but very far from least. I want my money to go to the artist so that they will live on and make another CD that I can enjoy in the future.
    None of that I get with Napster. What I do get is to discover a new artist, or to enjoy something that is out of print and totally unavailable.
    If you watch the music industry, they like to buy up all the right to popular artists that have saturated the market place and are therefore selling their CDs for a very low price, and take them off the market and sit on it for a while. They when people have lost, warn out their records/tapes/cds/8-tracks/reel to reels, whatever. they are more than happy to put it back on the market at full price and people get excited to buy it because it was "hard to find" or "out of print" for a long time. Or even better. They tack a song that was prevously left on the cutting room floor because it was lowsy, onto the end of the CD and then charge full price again for it. The fans still buy it up.... anyway.. enough of that slight tangent.
    I don't see any real harm that napster is doing. The people that are just leaching off of napster are the same people that were borrowing CD's off their friends and tapeing them, never to buy the CD.
    I'm still wating for major label CD's to start coming with some lawyerease on them that says "by opening this CD to are granted the sole right to listen to this CD. It may only be listed to by you and nobody else. If you play this CD for anyone else besides yourself, you will be punished to the furthest extent of the law... which we will write.

    Anyway, I depend on napster to find new music. I refuse to listen to the radio so that I can be forced into listening to whatever has been deemed "good" at the time, and maybe I am getting old (28) but the music the kids are listening to today has way less talent (listen to the quality of the singing with the cracking voices..etc..etc) The recording quality is crap. All this adds up to more money for the Big music industry that can sway what we all listen to. The acceptance of low quality in the music industry means more money for them because of less money paid for recording time and less practice to get anything right...etc..etc..
    OK, I'm going to take my home sick in bed mind back to bed and stop typeing disjoined thoughts.
  • Again, my original question doesn't really seem to be pointed at you. I'll just try and say to every musician out there that I'm sorry that I offended your work ethic. Obviously, most musicians work hard at what they do, especially if they are trying to make a living at it.

    But really, the question remains, does the amount of work that goes into producing (NOT marketing, Johnny Cash did not have todays marketing machine, and he didn't need it) a record album justify the cost?

    Better yet, does the amount of money ever paid for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band really worth the six months or so the Beatles put into producing that album? It was six months, because six months later, they had another album out.

    As far as a 'few hours of work' goes...I put in 1000 hours at work between January 1, 2000 and April 1, 2000. That is the equivalent of six months work at a 40 hour a week job.

  • My mother for one. I don't have one in my car (that's got to count for something). Mind you, I haven't bought one since PM Dawn had a song in the top 20, but I'm just pointing out that some people still need those little buggers.

    Did I mention I have Sgt. Pepper on 8-track?
  • A) I love the subscription music idea. I don't really listen to CDs all that long, and as such, don't buy them. I would, however, pay money to subscribe to music. If the fee were, say, $10 a month, I'd gladly pay it, and that would be $120 going to them that they wouldn't have seen anyway. I don't know why someone hasn't thought of this before! Same thing with micropayment. If you make it easy (and reasonable) for people to spend their money, they will.

    B) I don't really see how one can defend copying music as freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a very specific term. It means that you have the right to say what you want without the government stopping you. We have extrapolated this concept a little to include many different forms of media (newspapers, etc) but still exclude others (public walls). Now if you want to say that repeating somebody else's speech is freedom of speech, then you're going way beyond the definition. Hey, if you want to belt out "Stronger" and sell it, more power to you. But if you simply type cp stonger.mp3 and give it to somebody else, that can't be called freedom of speech. If that's the case, then copying books suddenly becomes fine. Copying software (after all, the difference between Office 2000 and an MP3 is just that when you cat winword.exe > /dev/raw you get static rather than Britney's melodious voice) suddenly becomes legal. I just don't see how one can do that.
  • "To be honest, it wasn't a great music year," said Andreas Schmidt, chief of the e-commerce group at Bertelsmann, which has a financial stake in Napster. "There were some isolated events, but we didn't put that much good stuff out."

    I grabbed that little ditty from [].

    Now I'm going to take a moment to pontificate on the economics of music and software piracy.

    Music/Movie (and to a lesser extent, software) executives will tell you that for each pirated copy of "insert your IP product of choice here", the production company loses n dollars. Similar to Autodesk saying that if I (non-engineer in a non-engineering career) were to pirate AutoCAD, they effectively lose $1500 (or whatever).

    The truth is, a significant percentage of pirated software/music/movies would never have been purchased in the first place, and the production company is out an insignificant zero.

    Not fully true for music cartels, as college students may still be ignoring their $1000 stereo equipment because they can play free music on their $50 computer speakers, but hey, this is the 21st century, right?

  • Here's the problem with that though. Assuming Napster had an impact, there's no amount of market research that's going to get a 100% accurate prediction. 80%, sure, 90% yeah, 95% maybe, 98%+ grey at best. Varying Accuracy is possible, but 1.8-3% error margin is considered extremely accurate. The Napster effect on total sales and revenue is well within any error margin that's gonna be made.

    You are mixing up two different things. Measuring absolutes is difficult, measuring relatives is easier.

    For simplicity (and ignoring corrections for other confounding variables whcih can be done) plot sales of various market segments (e.g. Country and Western, Hip-Hop etc) on a city by city basis and plots the units per head of population (normalised to the number you'd expect to sell) versus internet connectivity. If the line if flat then you are pretty sure that internet connectivity does not affect sales - if the line is sloped then you can be fairly sure (if you are confident of your corrections) that internet connectivity does affect you sales.

    Now, this isn't rocket science by any means, and I'm positive it has been done. So, let's think about results:-

    No trend

    More internet = more sales

    More internet = less sales

    If it was the last one it would have been shouted from the rooftops ("We can prove..."). If it was the first or the second then there would have been a FUD attack.

    Now, 39% drop in revenue... would this be a FUD attack? Their attacks on Napster (based on misleading use of statistics) actually supports the idea that Napster has a null or positive effect on music sales.

    So, two questions: what effect does Napster have, and will napster (or napster like services) always have the same effect?

    For the first, I think that napster does have a positive effect on music sales for a couple of reasons: most people have narrow band and can only sample, and there is generally a reasonable amount of disposable income about.

    For the second, I can see situations where it will have a negative effect: with increased availability of wide pipes and a recession cutting down on the ready cash I can see it moving away from sampling towards a download for ownership situation, especially with CD walkmen (or is it walkmans) and other consumer electronics that do MP3s getting commonplace.

  • Yeish... I'm sick and tired of people blaming All The World's Ills on greed. Greed doesn't hurt people. Pursuing goals (greedy or otherwise) without morality hurts people.

    Seriously. If I agree with myself to always tell the truth and never infringe on anothers' rights (even a restricted version of those rights -- eg. no "positive rights"), I can be greedy as hell without doing harm to anyone.

    You don't need to be upset about the greed. The greed is a Good Thing -- without it, there would be much less motivation to produce. Be upset about the lies. Those are evil.
  • I hope all the readers and reporters will recall that 28 states are suing the RIAA members for years of price fixing on CD sales beginning in 1995! John Borland's CNet article from last August [] covers the ground pretty well. Potentially hundreds of millions of dollars were taken from consumers by this illegal activity.
  • I can definitely see Napster eroding sales of cassingles -- if you can download that radio hit that's stuck in your head, why would you pay a few bucks for a poorly packaged tape version? But in my personal experience, Napster increases my consumption of CDs. Left to my own devices, I can go months without purchasing a CD. When I use Napster to sample new and unfamiliar stuff, my inclination to purchase music goes way up. Shit, my girlfriend installed Napster last week and has been running up her credit card on obscure Japanese imports ever since. Some people might use Napster to "rip off" the record companies, but I suspect the vast majority of music lovers are like me -- it only whets their appetite.

    Kook9 out.
  • Sure. Let's blame the RIAA. It's all their fault. Let's totally ignore the fact that Napster use DOES encourage people to not buy, or compensate the artist in any way what so ever. The only things I have purchased lately were the things I couldn't just steal on Napster. Face it: There is a moral, legal, and ethical question that you have to answer if you are a Napster user: Is what you are doing right? Would you like someone to take something you made without compensating you for it at all? Let's say it costs you $10 to make it. 100 people use it, and two of them pay $5 for it. Some might say this is okay, but if you don't make anything off of what you do, why continue to do it? I do tech support for a living - a nontangible product if there ever was one - and I guarentee you that if they didn't PAY ME to do this, I wouldn't. Now, if Napster gets what's coming to them, and can then use a business model that compensates all involved fairly, more power to them. The current setup isn't it.

    Fawking Trolls! []
  • You know, what I wonder is this: if Napster is, as you claim, helping the RIAA make money, why are they fighting Napster tooth and nail? Money talks, and if indeed Napster was pushing CD sales up, like so many Napster defenders claim, then the RIAA would be shutting up.

    And no, just saying they're dumb doesn't settle the case.

    The music mafia (RIAA) cannot allow Napster to continue because people might realize exactly how cheap it is to produce music. They wish to maintain their stranglehold on the industry by controlling all methods of distrabution.

    They can't admit that Napster is helping them, because they don't control Napster.
  • Try matching dollar for dollar money spent on RIAA and MPAA products in donations to the EFF [].

    Fighting an evil empire is rather fun and the EFF hats look cool.

  • why buy a 8-10 dollar single when you can just wait for the 15 dollar album.

    Because that $15 album only has one good song on it.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • Holy shit! Are you really claiming that the battle over mp3 pirating could be equivalent in importance to the Vietnam War?!?

    Well, there's at least one part of the analogy that holds. Both are (were) being drawn up as a fight against communism (while the reality is (was) much less drastic). And if the laws we have here in the U.S. were universally enforced, you would have about 30 million people in jail for their entire lifetime. [] Some people are just trying to avoid another catastrophe, over-the-top analogies (as this is) are one way to make the direction we are currently headed (unwinnable war with massive loss of life(time) looming) clear.
  • I have never, EVER purchased a CD single before. Why should I pay $10 or more for a bunch of remixes of the same song? If I want remixes, I go to Napster or a similar service..

    BUT, I hardly ever download any full albums from Napster -- in fact, yesterday I went out and bought two Pink Floyd CDs, PLUS both Radiohead CDs, simply because I had downloaded a few songs off Napster, said "Hey, this is great!" and felt obligated to follow up.

  • The RIAA isn't exactly the U.S. Gov't.

    But anyway. Why the slant, slashdot? Is it so wrong for artists to make a profit? You'd think an organization like the RIAA that was constantly fighting censorship legislation and promoting freedom of speech wouldn't be quite so shitted-upon by us.

    We, as members of the slashdot community, decide we hate the RIAA.

    Then one day, on a whim, I actually visited their website!

    Anybody who's ever done so would realize that their viewpoint is more honorable than a lot of the people posting messages on slashdot. In fact, their viewpoint is probably more honorable than mine. But that's a subject for private debate, not to be openly trolled.
  • Captain Kirk: You mean, the Federation have been lying all this time? They're actually in league with these... furr-balls from RIAA II?

    Spock: It would be illogical to assume that they are lying, merely because they are deliberately telling an untruth.

    Captain Kirk: Are you feeling OK, Spock?

    Spock: My feelings are irrelevent, Captain. Since my brain was bought by the RIAA, on e-bay, my human side has spontaneously combusted.

  • You shouldn't be expect to be paid anything doing anything unless there is a contract saying so. Also, what right does someone else have to say what I can do with my own CDs? Do I not have a right to share? What is immoral about copying what I have to give it to someone else? If I owned a hammer, could I not build an identical one to give to my neighbor?
  • Hmm, I haven't read any e-books, ever, paper works just fine. Let's stick to music, mmmkay?

    Theft doesn't have to involve a tangible item.

    No it doesn't, but that changes its nature quite a bit, does it not? Once you take away the "depriving someone else of property" part of theft, that changes it. They are not the same thing. Intellectual property is a different entity than real property, similar in many ways, but also fundamentally different, although many don't seem to think so. Are you one of those? Or do you regularly download TV's and Cars along with your articles.

    Uh, last I checked it was pretty damn involuntary for quite a few musicians.

    That's distribution as promotion on the part of the fans, but I think you already knew that. This part of it chaps my hide quite a bit, too. Why, because it is voluntary for a damn large number of musicians. The ones that want people to hear them, but don't want to give up their work for a loan to pay for someone else to tell people how good it is and get them a sample. Taking away such a useful resource hurts these people, I think that is fairly evident. It does wonders to preserve the status quo and stomp all competition, however. Just think, those damn independants all of a sudden have a great way to get their music to people's ears. We simply can't have people doing things for themselves. Then they won't pay us to do it for them. (Note: I was masquerading as a Big 5 record exec there for a second)

    Based on your description, the free market allows me to walk into the nearest Best Buy, grab a wide screen TV, and walk out the door without paying.

    Ahh, you took an example too far without keeping the parameters in perspective. Try this one on for size. If you could take that TV and leave it on the shelf, your example would be accurate. And if the price of the TV cost, oh say, 1500% of its manufacturing cost (minus the one-time design cost), and you knew that 750% of that cost was used to promote "trendy" TV's to pre-teens, I think you could call it a market correction (or reaction) to go build your own and leave the super-expensive one on the shelf.

  • How to break the cycle? is the record cartel killer!

    All "starving musicians" should make their recordings available on You can sell CD's for what they are worth, not inflated record cartel prices, and still get a good royalty.

    My argument really is about the process being broken, just as you said. People who think they deserve to get paid $20,000,000 USD for a record album are sniffing glue. If their were open distribution channels for music, no one, not even the Beatles, could sell enough copies to make $20 Million off of one album.

    Music is artificially high priced and difficult to transport.

  • ..and then there are the marketing droids to upkeep (jawas don't work for free ya know).

    Oh, sound engineers too, they like money. Gotta pay them. Seems like there a bunch of people in the recording process that need money. Who else? Suppose the Teamsters need to get paid to drive those trucks from manufacturing to the stores.

    Do you think the stores collect a portion of that revenue? Maybe a little off the top, say 5-10%?
  • Where have we seen this before? We have a system that works just find (music industry, CDs, ect), and someone invents something superior in some fundamental way (in this case, more convenient), and we act surprised when pressure comes to try and squash it.

    This isn't the first time this has happened.

    Big Oil has, up until recently, been against alternative power sources. Only now that it's becomming abundantly clear that the oil supply isn't going to last another 50-80 years do we see their tunes change. Now we find companies like BP having an increasing interest in developing solar power technology. Why? They know their number is up and are changing to fit with the times so they can survive.

    Look at the Industrial Revolution. It challenged a working, established system that worked just fine, because it was more efficent and cheaper. People didn't take this lying down, though. Anyone who's seen Star Trek 6 remembers the analogy made by that hot vulcan chick: "They threw their wooden shoes, or sabo, into the machinery. Thus: sabotage."

    Sorry for the Trek reference, but it's true, and it gets my point across here. This is just a number crunching form of sabotage. Of course the industry is going to put whatever spin and outright lies it can get away with in order to keep their jobs and keep themselves out of trouble. It's human nature.

    Just ask Bill Clinton: "I did NOT have sexual relations, with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky." :)
  • His ego might have increased, but his band's size decreased by about 25% []. Whisper reasoning for the decision seems to focus on a little thing called artistic integrity, but that's mostly hearsay from people close to the departed.
  • Why the slant, slashdot? Is it so wrong for artists to make a profit?

    The artists won't be making a profit, with the possible exception of huge stars like Madonna (who has her own record label). The labels will be receiving any and all money from this proposed settlement, which is a main reason why they wont execept it... The figure they can start their own service and recieve all the money.

    I think the reason why so many people are anti-RIAA is because they are taking the position that they want to stop Napster to protect the artists, when the artists really need protection from the RIAA. I know I was anti-RIAA before Napster ever existed.

    Their contracts are so complex that the artists don't even realize how much they are signing away. I heard an interview with Rob Zombie once where he remarked that the latest White Zombie album had sold more than 5 million copies... Yet they recieved far less that 5 million dollars. That's LESS than $1 a cd.

    Here is an excellent essay by Steve Albini (famous indie rocker and producer... He produced at least one Nirvana album, among many other projects) entitled "Some of your friends are already this fucked []" that details at what lengths the labels will go to screw you. Great reading and may go a ways to answer your question.

    Josh Sisk
  •'s artist agreement is _lousy_ and their charts are worthless and filled with cynical manipulations. They were _once_ a lot better than that.

    On the other hand, [] is in the final stages of going live with a CD program that features CDs that you can buy burned from CD audio rather than burned from 128K mp3s like Yes, the DAM CDs are just what you'd get if you burned them yourself from mp3 downloads, only with a better case. Ampcast's taking steps to allow artists to have an even _more_ professional presentation, including artistic control of the _whole_ CD package including tray insert and CD media print, and will be able to burn CDs to order that are clones of professionally done Red Book Audio CD masters- meaning that if you get an Ampcast CD it will be _equivalent_ to the major label product as uncompressed audio, not simply a CD burn of mp3 files.

    Mind you, for inexperienced artists without a lot of resources, they'll still allow minimal album graphics and CDs burned from mp3s, just like But for the heavy hitters out there in the indie world, ampcast is in the final stages of giving them _unprecedented_ ability to put out a fantastic, professional quality product.

  • Average, or median?

    Average would be averaging out the money, and would be some small figure which I won't try to calculate.

    Median is a lot simpler: that would be the amount of money made by the median artist, 'halfway successful', and the money earned by Metallica doesn't enter into it at all. It's _very_ simple.

    Median = $0

    This is widely known and accepted in the industry, and the reason it's $0 is essentially because of recoupment. If you included advances (which are effectively a _loan_ and not a gift), then the median would probably be on the order of $10,000 (not less than $1000 or more than $100,000). Per month? Year? No- over the artist's entire career. And again this is a loan, not a gift, so I hesitate even to mention it.

    So, the amount of that 14 billion that goes to the median artist is $0 and approval on a single $10,000 loan to cut an album, on terms that are substantially worse than a bank would extend. Is that what you wanted to know?

  • It's not theft, it's copyright infringement, but I'm sure you've ignored this arguement before. And it wouldn't be copyright infringement if we had lawmakers who didn't call the RIAA to ask how they should write laws.

    Was it a thief who let me download the tracks that convinced me to buy a CD? What you see as huge theft, seems to me as a simple market correction, or music promotion if you will (because what else are you going to call voluntary distribution without compensation, it can only be called promotion). Massive increases in technology lowered the price of an item, market restrictions inflated that price, the market reacted. You are familiar with the concept of a free market, right? Or do you prefer to have our government define all markets and set all prices? Heck, why not let the industry do it, oh yeah... []
  • But i posted with my actual e-mail address and you posted anonymously. I'm not afraid of what I'm saying. You, however, it seems, are a fat, parent's-basement-dwelling, music-stealing puss. But that's okay- slashdot is filling up with them recently. Someone must have mentioned the site to you in a Brittney chat room or something.

    Now, I may be wrong about this. But I'm pretty sure I'm not.

    Here's reality for you: Just because a great number of people steal something doesn't make it okay. No matter what happens to the profits of the music industry, diapered debaters with specious logic only make them look good. You, and the thousands of snot-nosed punks like you, have no integrity.

    YHBT []

  • According to the RIAA, if I have mpegs from CDs that would have cost say $300 to buy on my hard-drive, they are down $300 dollars. Does this mean that if that hard-drive crashes, they are suddenly up $300 dollars.

    Also, to extend Schroedinger's experiment a little, say I place a PC with a CD recorder in a sealed box and set it so at the random decay of a radioctive substance, the CD is either copied or not. According to quantum theory, before box is opened, the CD is in a superposed state of being copied and not copied. Therefore, according to the RIAA, they are in the superposed state of having "lost" the value of the CD and not having "lost" the value. If I never open the box, will the RIAA continue to operate on this superposed state or is it the case that it will not make a blind bit of difference?

    The only true claim that can be made about copyright infringement is that it has no direct effect on the copyright holder. Claims can be made about indirect effect but these can never be anything more than conjecture and supposition.


  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @04:16PM (#401336) Homepage Journal
    I saw this argument made in a gathering of professional sound engineers and while (they're on the payroll) Napster got well trashed, the justification I was given for the cartel pricing was _quite_ unexpected.

    It seems that actual manufacturing costs are almost meaningless, because it is _promotion_ that costs all the money.

    This is a little startling, but bears up to examination- even in the 80s, independent promotion was something like 60% of the labels' expenditures. It might be more well known as payola- the more things change the more they stay the same. If I remember correctly, CBS (the biggest label in the business at the time) attempted to break the back of the independent promotion network using Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' as a weapon: Floyd was touring and were launching the tour in California, and had a killer single, "Another Brick In The Wall pt. 2". CBS tried to get radio play on top 40 stations in LA for the track without paying off the independent promoters- and were frozen out completely, no airplay at ALL for Floyd. Eventually the band was made aware of what was happening and asked why they weren't getting radio play, and on being told, kicked up a stink and told the label, "So pay them already!" CBS did, and within 6 hours Floyd was being played on the radio...

    This is not to justify the state of affairs- the independent promoters were linked with organised crime and if you want a _real_ cartel, try organised crime- but it is important information on where the money _really_ goes. I believe it is quite true that not all that money goes to RIAA execs' pockets. They have to pay off a staggering number of sleazy operators- in fact, even the rack jobbers have been consolidating into a power structure so now the labels have to spend money selling their CDs into stores like Wal-Mart! They entertain the reps from rack jobbers, have bands give command performances for them, and all this also costs money. It's revenge of the middleman, taken to the most incomprehensible extreme.

    I think the RIAA are probably doomed _because_ so many middlemen (promoters, radio, rack jobbers) can and will take a big chunk out of them as the brick and mortar scene gradually, slowly fades... it's easy to get all haughty about fat RIAA execs slurping drinks in Ibiza but the reality seems to be that they're struggling to hang onto _moderately_ wealthy status- they're pulled too many different directions and have to pay off way too many middlemen, who cannot be made to go away.

    I could almost be sympathetic. Almost.

  • by Lazarus Short ( 248042 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @09:55AM (#401338) Homepage
    Why are they fighting Napser, even as their profits increase?

    It's simple. They're control freaks.

    More to the point, they recognize Napster as a long-term threat. They know that as long as they control the mainstream distribution channels, they can continue to make obscene profits. But Napster

    1. Provides people access to independant artists and groups, who as they become more well known, become poised to seriously compete with the groups that RIAA memebers control. And as the armchair economists are all so happy to point out, more competition leads to slimmer profits.
    2. Makes people seriously think twice before popping down $15 for a CD. Now, as long as bandwidth, mp3 quality, and hard drive space are issues, they're still going to buy the CD, which is why the RIAA's profits haven't been hurt yet. But those things are techincal issues which are becoming less and less of a problem every day. Soon enough, people will stop buying as many CD's, and the RIAA's sales will plummet.
    So, in short, the RIAA's claims about lost revenue are FUD, but they know that if Napster survives long enough, they won't be.

  • Clarification, since you asked.

    I see Napster and DeCSS as acts of pure curiosity and/or necessity. Once that necessity is validated in the free marketplace of ideas, removing the solution will create opportunity and a fixed bottom for future solutions.

    The lawsuits attacked whatever weakness they could find in an unexpected entity. In a way, these ideas can be described through a supply and demand metaphor. Napster created the demand and thereby monopolized the supply. (Yes, I know about OpenNap etc, but I'm making a point)

    Removing the supply by killing Napster does nothing to remove the demand that Napster created. Imagine if someone had invented Color TV before the networks could and made it freely available. If the networks succeeded in killing the Color TV product, they could do nothing to erase the knowledge that Color TV existed.

    Right or wrong, Napster was ultimately the most convenient thing that has ever happened in the history of recorded music. It's usually faster to find a song on Napster than to get it from a CD on the shelf across the room. Killing Napster will do nothing to change that.

    The RIAA has essentially clarified whatever weaknesses Napster had. One of the biggest was believing that anyone could make money from this. If there was no "business model" there would have been less of a clear target. The lawsuits have done nothing to prove that trading MP3s is bad, mostly because they can't. Additionally there is still no legitimate alternative. They have however succeeded in making alienating their customers in profound and far-reaching ways.

    The Spawn of Napster will arrive into a different world than their forebear. They will know the threats, and they will know they will be welcomed by some and loathed by others. If the RIAA or MPAA thinks the next target is GNUtella, they're due for another surprise.
  • How long will it take before the uncontrollable throng of adolescent geniuses that big business hates and fears comes up with something better than Napster? About three months probably. Maybe less.

    Which is rather ironic if you think about it. Teenagers are the demographic to which the RIAA companies most rabidly market. Why? They are the ones that will purchase 1.1 million copies of the new N'Stink album in the first week.

    You live by the teen, you die by the teen.


  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @09:57AM (#401373)
    Why would RIAA want Napster to make them billions when they can make N*billions themselves by knocking Napster out of the picture?
  • by joshamania ( 32599 ) <> on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:06AM (#401406) Homepage
    The RIAA and the record cartels want to completely control the distribution methods of their products. Before, they could threaten manufacturers not to make DAT tapes, and not support Mini Discs, but now, they can't do shite about MP3's.

    They can no longer control the price of their "product", and that threatens their ridiculously high margins.

    Why should an industry that is worth $40 billion USD only be provided with product by, oh, let's say, less than 50,000 musicians. And let us also say that less than 1,000 of those musicians make more than $1,000,000 USD per year.

    Where does the rest of that money go?

    Another question I'd like to ask:

    You musicians out there, do you feel it is your right to be able to live for the rest of your life off of a few hours of work (songwriting/recording)? And don't bullshit me that it's not a few hours of work, because it is. Programming is the same thing. Sure it make take me years to improve my skills, but the chances of me ever getting paid $20,000,000 USD for one song/program are next to zero, while no-talent boy-bands (that's right N-Sync, Backdoor boys, I'm talking about your dumb asses) rake in the dough because the cartels control the distribution of nearly all music. Do you like the fact that your industry is more akin to a lottery than to art?

  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:01AM (#401433)
    their revenue would be up $739,000,000 over last year. And up $1,600,000,000 from 1998.

    Well, not exactly. The Napster settlement was actually 1 billion over several years, totalling $150 million/year divided out amongst the big 5 and indie labels. It would have made a dent in those numbers, but not as big as you say.

    I'm not defending the RIAA, just trying to explain why they rejected the offer. $30 million per label per year isn't a lot of money, compared to what they're afraid they'll lose to Napster. Of course they're going to lose a lot more due to bad decision making, but they are a fairly short-sighted profit-driven industry.

  • by StRobinson ( 175747 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:04AM (#401457)
    The BBC site has feedback forms [] which seem ideally suited to this sort of crap.

    I would argue that this article constitutes a "factual error" [], but you could also just send a good, old-fashioned complaint [].

    Or, maybe a "suggestion" [] about where they can stick their doctored statistics.

    Give 'em hell. A few thousand complaints should show them that we won't let propaganda like this proliferate.
    - BMO
  • by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:05AM (#401466) Homepage
    Is what you are doing right? Would you like someone to take something you made without compensating you for it at all?

    You are reading - "taking" - my words right now.

    You are not compensating me one bit. Oh, I am wounded!

    Seriously...if someone got a hold of one of the minidisc recordings of my band's practice sessions and found it so intriguing that they made copys for their friends, or put it up on Napster, I'd have no problem with that at all. (Providing that it was properly credited as our work.)

    Some might say this is okay, but if you don't make anything off of what you do, why continue to do it?

    Do you make any money for making love to your SO? Why continue to do it, then?

    Come to think of it, my dogs aren't making me any money. Hell, they cost me hundreds of dollars in vet bills a year. Guess I ought to sell their furry butts.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms |

  • by joemaller ( 37695 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:11AM (#401467) Homepage
    The slashdot community should know better than anyone that what matters most is information. Not inconsequentials like truth and accuracy. The RIAA is winning the war of information. My mother mentioned this report to me before it was posted here. False stories get headlines, retractions and corrections get small paragraphs at the bottom of page 3.

    Most likely Napster is dead already. But this isn't completely a cause to mourn.

    Most recent revolutions in digital media that have solid-media business shitting themselves have come from bored or curious teenagers and college students. CSS was cracked by a 16 year old. Hotline was created by a teenager. Napster (a conceptually modified Hotline, though no one mentions it) was set up by Sean Fanning when he was 20 or 21. Even Netscape was lead by Marc Andreesen before he graduated college. (please be gentle with slight factual errors, that was recounted from memory)

    How long will it take before the uncontrollable throng of adolescent geniuses that big business hates and fears comes up with something better than Napster? About three months probably. Maybe less.

    The RIAA has introduced a new market force. The capitalist mantra has always been "competition fosters innovation". This is the beginning of litigation fostering innovation. I'm sure this isn't what the RIAA and MPAA really want. Napster basically had a monopoly on peer-to-peer MP3 sharing. If that is monopoly is shut down, the marketplace will be thrown open to innovation, however a pure copy will not work. The RIAA lawsuits have established a clear technological baseline. Every spawn of Napster will have to start that much higher. And they will.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:12AM (#401468)
    I heard about this number yesterday, and you know they're going to argue it left and right (Mind you, I do believe Napster as it was was in the wrong, but not to the extent RIAA wants us to believe). There was another article in today's Chicago Tribune (but carried by AP, so probably in everyone's major paper somehow) that talked about the creator of DeCSS, and out of 4 1/2-page columns, only one sentence mentioned the purpose of DeCSS (linux dvd viewing), and most of the rest on how DeCSS can be used to copy movies left and right.

    Even if the media outlet is not owned by any subsidary or company of RIAA or MPAA, they are going to be biased because they have a strong urge to make sure copyright controls stay as 'strong' as they are. If, say, the Napster or DeCSS case overthrew strong copyright protections, then a site like NYTimes could easily watch as a free outlet scoops up all the articles for the day and posts them themselves; the work done by NYTimes writers, but benefits reaped in by another. Of course, I do believe that a significant fraction of media outlets do respect fair use issues, which is why DeCSS in general gets a more favorable light by some of these compared to Napster, since the media themselves rely heavily on fair use for publishing.

    But again, this all boils down to statistics and how well you can spin them. I agree with others that there is no control case here: you need to compare the change of sales in a situation with and without Napster with all other conditions being the same, which is practically impossible. So we can spin them to say they're invalid, or RIAA can spin them to say they lost 1/3rd of their profits. The only somewhat justifiable comparison is to show the change in sales over the last twenty years on a year by year basis, incorporating the number of potental buyers (weighted age-group averages) and number of CDs available (again, weighted interest averages). I would suspect that the trend is higher, and if not only that, mimics the general trend in the GNP or other consumer price levels, such that you'd see the dip from Reagen-omics and the increase from the latest improved economy.

    Which all means that CD sales haven't been affected at all by Napster, much less any other factor more-so than the economic levels.

  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Monday February 26, 2001 @10:49AM (#401487)

    With the price of 30 gigabyte ATA-100 hard drives approaching US$120, the issue of disk storage for music is no longer an issue. Especially with .MP3 format and the new Open Source music formats now in development, which stores high-quality music at a rate of one megabyte/minute or less.

    This is why somebody should be kicking the RIAA around and tell them you can make a profit on online music sales if you price it at a rate of eight US cents per minute (US$4.80 per hour). With online sales, you can subtract out the major overhead of stamping out CD's, manufacturing the packaging and shipping the completed CD's to retailer.

Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer. Now I are won.