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The Almighty Buck

Preview the New Napster 390

*ZiggyP0P* writes "Napster has finally released a preview/teaser of their new business model. Seems kind of sad that so much work will be done on something that noone will use. Quite interesting the part about their own file format..."
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Preview the New Napster

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  • Farking link? (Score:5, Informative)

    by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:25PM (#2775519)

    Is there a reason why the link to Napster is going through They don't appear to have anything to do with Napster...
  • Why I'll Use It (Score:4, Offtopic)

    by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:26PM (#2775524) Homepage Journal
    Artists Get Paid [].
    • Re:Why I'll Use It (Score:4, Insightful)

      by scott1853 ( 194884 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:47PM (#2775673)
      One thing I didn't see addressed was how they are going to verify artist accounts. What's going to be in place to stop me from claiming I own "Who Let The Dogs Out".

      That example is obviously extreme, but think about a no-name band that's trying to get started. They log onto Napster to register their band and find that somebody else has already claimed ownership of some songs they taped at a rehearsal.
    • Re:Why I'll Use It (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sir_Real ( 179104 )
      I agree. Also, it will be nice to (hopefully) have correct ID3 tags. I look forward to being able to categorize by genre, name, style etc... The biggest worry I would have if I were them is someone RE'ing their file format and ripping all of their stuff to ogg's or mp3's... But then that's why there's a DMCA I suppose... (please do not take the last statement as an endorsement of the DMCA).

      • Re:Why I'll Use It (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tenman ( 247215 )
        Good point. After I read the FAQ on the new system. I first thought was I need to get my hands of one of thier files. But to do that I would have to pay to use their service. Even if the quality of the music was very high (they say it may be of limited quality due to licence issues), the only reason I would bother with it, is if I just got over curious about thier crypto scheme. I really don't think they will have much to worry about.
      • Re:Why I'll Use It (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bindster ( 533597 )
        The biggest worry I would have if I were them is someone RE'ing their file format and ripping all of their stuff to ogg's or mp3's... But then that's why there's a DMCA I suppose... (please do not take the last statement as an endorsement of the DMCA).

        But that's exactly what you're doing, by hoping that nobody alters or tinkers with a file that they've bought. If I record some music by using the line-in on my sound card I'm free to convert that file to any format I want; shouldn't I be able to do that with a file that I paid for?

        The only way that you could disagree is by employing the same subversive logic that those companies pushing SDMI and SCMS on us are using: the consumer is not buying the music, s/he is buying the right to listen to is. But then again, if you believed that, you might also think that Digital Rights Management [] is innovative.

    • Re:Why I'll Use It (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fanatic ( 86657 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:52PM (#2775700)
      Artists Get Paid

      That would be a first. Courtney Love does the math []. Sorry, but RIAA getting paid is way different from artists getting paid. (or were you being sarcastic?)
      • Re:Why I'll Use It (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'm still amazed that people believe record companies are synonymous with recording artists and that record companies are there to help the artists and make them rich.

        Each CD has 100 points. Then those 100 points are divided up amongst everyone involved. Each point is worth a varying number of cents, depending on the cost of the CD and how much it cost to produce that one CD. Currently, I think the average CD comes out to about $9 (9 cents per point, then).

        The recording artist gets 10 points, if they are very lucky. So for every record, they make potentially 90 cents.

        If an artist becomes gold (500,000 CD's sold, I believe) they'll have about $450,000. Out of that $450,000 their agent will take a cut. At best, you're looking at 10%. Now the artist is down to approximately $400,000.

        Now the artist has to repay the record company for the cost of the album's production, probably the cost of any video and miscellanious things such as advertising (in some cases). We'll say they got a steel on the studio recording for $20,000 and an extremely cheap $200,000 video. Now they are down to $180,000 at best.

        Of this $180,000 they will have to pay for a lawyer to help with the legal end of business. Maybe they get a deal at $20,000. Now they're down to about $180,000.

        Next, they have to pay taxes. On $180,000 probably near 50%. They have $90,000 left.

        Assuming the record company has been lenient with them (record companies like to keep running tabs on EVERYTHING the artist causes as an expense so that they can keep the artist in their pocket) they've earned a cool $90,000 for becoming a gold record artist and selling $9,000,000 worth of albums (not counting whatever money they brought in through other means for the record companies).

        Now, let's say that the artist isn't just a solo act. Let's say they're a band. They've got a drummer, a vocalist/guitar player, a bass player and a keyboard player. Now they divide that $90,000 up and have earned a cool $22,500 each.

        This is how, very easily, a popular recording artist could earn less than someone pulling in minimum wage at a local fast food joint. In fact, they wouldn't even be breaking out of middle-class income unless they were selling well over 5,000,000 units per year.

        Every artist, including those who *have* made it huge, will confirm this. Only the rarist exceptions become millionaire superstarts living in fat ass mansions and gold-plating every surface in their house (Madonna, Michael Jackson, Sting, Aerosmith, etc).

        So I would say that the record companies are indeed a great evil. They have no interest in caring for the artist or treating them fairly. They're worse than any used car salesmen or ambulance chasers. They take someone else's talent and exploit them. And how can they do this? Because they maintain control of all of the production and distribution channels for the artist. They also keep the world in the dark-age of copyright and intellectual property abuse. If you want your music on the radio or in a store, you have to sell your soul and the rights to your music to the record companies.

        Now, imagine that the artist has direct access to their listeners. Instead of taking 90 cents on a CD, they could take many times that still afford to pay their agent, lawyer, production costs and afford advertising. Further, they could maintain complete control over the ownership of their lyrics and music and even their own name.
        • I agree completely with your points. But the artists that I know (not dropping any names) realize most of what was stated above. They end up making most of their money on tours and they know this.

          Why does eveyone automatically assume that any level of fame automatically equates to great wealth? I've never quite understood that one.
        • AC: record companies are indeed a great evil

          Why specifically record companies? Why not anyone who deals in someone else's intellectual property? Booksellers, publishers, librarians... all these are scum of the earth too, according to your logic.

          Thing is though, your logic is flawed. You presume that the artist is the thing that deserves the most reward.

          It's not actually that difficult to make a really good song. It's not even difficult to distribute it, provided it is done digitally. So how come there aren't lots of great songs going around on Morpheus that don't exist on CD?

          Because what is difficult is to market a really good song. As in, publicise it, take it to the masses and actually bring in the money.

          Firstly, radio station playlists don't come from a team meeting of benevolent DJs who spend their time searching out new sounds. Playlists come from record companies bombarding radio stations with publicity. Wise up, sucker. Commercial radio stations (and even the BBC) have fixed playlists controlled by marketting hype. It's only on the unprofitable grass-roots stations that have DJs who actually do any research.

          Secondly, every artist who has tried to make a living (actually pay their bills, without claiming social security) SOLELY out of online trading of their IP has failed. You can only do this if you are already established, ie. have already shifted lots of coasters. Not forgetting that you need a decent way to accept payments.

          So the horrid harsh reality is that ARTISTS NEED RECORD COMPANIES. Sorry, but they do. Record companies are not evil, they are actually the largest part of what makes pop music pop.

      • Re:Why I'll Use It (Score:2, Insightful)

        by murr ( 214674 )
        That's an interesting article, but I've always had difficulties believing it. Ms Love does not exactly appear to be poor, and she was not exactly poor even before she had any success in her acting career.

        She is involved in a heavy court battle [] with the surviving members of Nirvana. Why would they do that and involve scores of well paid lawyers, if the contracts really paid artists practically nothing?

      • Re:Why I'll Use It (Score:3, Informative)

        by ichimunki ( 194887 )
        Why do you people insist on posting the Salon link to Courtney's ripoff version of Steve Albini's article, which can be found (along with a lot of other great articles on the music industry and copyright at this page []?
    • Hah! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:53PM (#2775707) Homepage
      It doesn't look like the artists will be paid (from the FAQ []):

      How is Napster going to stay legal? Will you filter out certain songs, like before?

      All the music available through Napster will be legally licensed for sharing in the Napster community. When you make music available for sharing, our system will check to make sure it's licensed to Napster. We're busy getting licenses to music from copyright holders ranging from major to independent labels, so there'll be a lot of great music when we launch -- and we'll continue adding to that body of music.

      (Emphasis mine)

      So, once again, it looks like both the artists and the users are being screwed.

      This solution Napster will be offering would be more palatable in my view if we knew the money was going DIRECTLY to the artists, rather than via the "label"...
      • by Alan ( 347 )
        Not to nitpick, as I do agree with you, but artists have labels for a reason (of course, these days labels have artists, but that's another story). Imagine your payment went right to the artist... no, I mean right to them, as in a check delivered to them. Well, what happens when you're an artist and suddenly you have to cash a million checks. That'd kinda suck. Even if it wasn't individual people but organizations (napster, gnutella,, etc), that's still a fair number of checks to cash. This is why labels exists.

        Nowadays of course they exist not to make life easier for the artist (and get a cut for their troubles), but to simply get their cut and make lots of cash money.

        • credit cards, genius.
          ok, that's three words...
        • The payment goes to the label because in 99% of circumstances the artist does NOT own the copyright on their own music. They agree to sign all rights to their work away for eternity to the record label before the record comes out. So you COULDN'T pay the artists directly in trade for licensing the mp3's, they no longer own the art, they already sold it. Contrast this to the book publishing world where authors sign away rights to a work for one printing. Very different.

          This has nothing to do with paying artists and never did. The artist has already been paid. They may get a small cut of record sales, they more likely do not. So it's always only been about paying the record companies. Just for clarification....
        • Re:Hah! (Score:3, Insightful)

          It doesn't take a multi-billion dollar industry that takes a 90% cut to cash checks.

          I know the labels do more than that, but for a small independent artist in the Internet age, the record labels are quickly becoming (or have become) obsolete. I buy all my music legitimately, but it sometimes seems kind of pointless WRT doing it to support the artists since most of the money goes to some faceless corporation that is only trying to maintain the status quo of its monopoly on distribution.

          That's why I like to patronize labels like Robert Fripp's Discipline Global Mobile, which allows the artists to maintain their own copyrights. Imagine that. You struggle to make some good work, the record label helps you to publish and market it, you give them their cut, but you still own the work. I'm sure Hilary Rosen would call that communism.
        • Re:Hah! (Score:2, Funny)

          by Howie ( 4244 )
          Don't forget the risk of paper cuts in handling all those checks. That sure would suck too. I hate it when I get lots of money.

          [seriously, I think that it's truer to say it's currently the artist who gets a cut, rather than the label]
      • From Napster:
        Artists Get Paid []

        Napster will offer artists and labels tools to register as rights holders and get paid for sharing their music on Napster. Artists and other rights holders can set rules for how their music files are used, check their account status online, and receive quarterly statements.

        Many artists are legally bound to thier labels and have no control over thier music, so most of your money will go to those labels. HOWEVER, A Label isn't required to distribute your music via new Napster, so those Artists who wish to get paid directly CAN. And those who wish to sell thier soul, can sign up with the labels...
        • For new music this is correct. But if you want something by Madonna, the record companies already own all her old work. That's only accessible by making deals with the record company, the artist unfortunately has no say there.
    • Assuming you're not being sarcastic...

      Yeah, I know you're a big fan of playing "Devil's Advocate" (often, you're simply being sane, as sanity is lacking here at times), but you've got to be fucking kidding me on this one. Artists don't get paid unless/untill the labels make millions off their music.

      I personally know some artists who have been on the verge of making it big for the last 4 years, every chance their labels(yes, plural, they've been all over) get they totally fuck them over. If you listen to metal much, you've probably heard them.

      They're simply whores and their labels are their pimp. The labels get the money, the artists do the work and get bullied and pushed around and just generally disprespected and treated like shit. Lables are in constant violation of their already extremely label favoring contracts.

      It's really one of the most ridiculous industries on this sad little planet.

      note: I won't disclose the name of the band because I'm not sure what they have publicly disclosed about the trouble they've had with their labels.

    • Although they did title the section of the FAQ Artists will get paid I'm doubtful that they actually will.
      Napster will offer artists and labels tools to register as rights holders and get paid for sharing their music on Napster. Artists and other rights holders can set rules for how their music files are used, check their account status online, and receive quarterly statements.

      I'm not a lawyer but i'm pretty sure that the rights to most music is held by the big record companies. Therefore those few independant artists will actually get paid, but i'm betting the ones already signed to record labels won't see much of that subscription fee.
  • by timbck2 ( 233967 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <2kcbmit>> on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:27PM (#2775534) Homepage
    ...yet another music file format. Why are they bothering?
  • Have I got a deal for you!!! You see, I have a bridge surplus in my inventory right now and I have this gem of a bridge that I hate to part with but I must. Its located in New York City and connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. It will pay off even faster than your Napster investment. Only serious inquiries need apply!

    I thought Napster was dead. Guess this is the death rattle for the investors sake. Sad, sad, sad. No one can seem to find out a profitable scheme of ripping off the evil Record Labels.

  • Nobody? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlknowle ( 175506 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:29PM (#2775547) Homepage Journal
    That "nobody" will use the new service is a bit of a misstatement; I think that there will be a dedicated, but small user base - certainly, nothing like the huge usage Napster once had, but if they are able to create a subscription model that has a good enough balance between Cost/Hassle and Product that Joe User will choose it over messing about with AudioGalaxy, there will certainly be a user base.

    Expect a PR campaign simultaneous to the release painting those who use Napster2 as hip, aware people while those who use others [] as music pirates.

    The PR campaign won't be as scary as the legislative offensive launched to outlaw music trading apps without DRM... Napster and the industry will be on the same side.

    In other words, this isn't the end of Napster, not by a long shot. And I suspect that, of all the fee-based services, the one from Napster will be more forgiving than the one that MS puts out.
  • why use it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 2MuchC0ffeeMan ( 201987 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:29PM (#2775548) Homepage
    " Why should I pay when I can get it for free somewhere else?

    You mean aside from the fact that Napster is the coolest?
    Seriously, we know that there will always be a lot of alternatives. Ultimately, the choice will be yours, but we feel that file sharing communities that pay copyright holders and provide simple, useful tools to help you do what you want with your digital music collection are going to prevail. We feel strongly that the value you receive from Napster will make the fee seem insignificant.

    yes, the alternatives we've grown the love over the last 6 months just don't compare the the 'quality' that we could get with the satisfaction of making the RIAA much richer than it already is.
    • I'm probably a freak, but I'd use it just to find new bands in a certain genre. I already have all the music from the mainstream bands I want.

      Of course, they don't state what the fee will be yet, and they don't know how many songs they're going to let you download. And I wouldn't be totally surprised if the RIAA is making them mail 250 lb. USB dongles that have to be attached to your computer to play the songs.
  • by Cyberllama ( 113628 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:29PM (#2775549)
    It will fail for entirely different reasons. Primary amongst them is the fact that plain old mp3 files are all people really want. The hardware players people own play mp3s, the files they already have are mp3s, and and no one likes restrictions on copying their files.

    Not that charging a monthly fee won't work against them, it will, but there are still a number of people who would gladly have paid a monthly fee for what napster WAS. What it has/will become is something no one wanted or asked for napster to make.

    And the final problem is that by now a solid napster replacement in the form of Morpheus/Kazaa/grokster has come out. Napster waited way too long. They will always have a place in history, but they will never have a place in the future.
    • Make this comment for Napster, get modded up as 'Insightful', make the exact same comment on Ogg Vorbis, get modded down as a troll. :)

      (Ask me how I know.)
      • Well, the only problem with ogg files as I see it is that they aren't playable on most portable devices. At least they don't suffer from the copy protection scheme and offer the same low quality music as mp3. If I were to switch over to ogg, I would at least have gained something when i lost the flexibillity of mp3 (in terms of portable devices/established nature/etc). But what do I gain from .nap files? Nothing. I get a mp3 with a blanket of security wrapped around itl
      • The main difference between .nap and .ogg files is that:

        a) .nap files have copy protection and
        b) I can play .ogg files in almost any (software) player, on almost any OS.

      • Ogg is to mp3 as Gnome was to QT/KDE.

        It's not so much that Ogg wants to be better than mp3 or to replace it- it's just an effort to keep Fraunhofer honest so they don't pull a Unisys-style gif move and start charging users outrageous rates. If they do, there's a free alternative to fall back on.

        Whether people actually are forced to fall back on that alternative is completely beside the point- there *is* an alternative nipping at their heels, looking for the slightest sign of weakness.

        On the other hand, this is just the fruition of Napster the company trying to cash in their chips. The record companies called their bluff, and rather than stand on principle the Napster folks gave in to their greed. They have limited the options of people who trust them, rather than increased them.

        That's why that comment gets modded down as a troll in a vorbis discussion and modded up as insightful here.
    • BANDWIDTH (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zmokhtar ( 539671 )
      One thing that people keep forgetting is that the brilliance of Napster was that we all shared bandwidth with each other and everyone carried the burden of distributing files. Kazaa does an even an even better job at this. Now that this is a pay thing, does napster plan to host a large number of files itself? Or will they still depend on their users to host the files for them? If Napster hosts the files, how will they pay for all the bandwidth they will need?
      • Exactly. And since Kazaa, Morpheus, LimeWire, etc. all do a much better job, how does Napster POSSIBLY think that they can compete now?
  • by Violet Null ( 452694 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:30PM (#2775555)
    Two words: .NAP files.

    Why should I spend money to get music as files that won't play on my Nomad or Archos Jukebox?

    I'm all for giving the artists a cut of the subscription, or on a per-download basis, or what have you, but if it's in this "secure" format then it becomes worthless to me.
    • Yeah, this is true so I'll tell you what... give it two weeks and .NAP will be .HACKED and you'll have your nice MP3 format back again and can use the files anywhere you wish. You know it will happen, I know it will happen, Napster knows it will happen. The RIAA and the "Big Labels" behind it just don't fscking get it yet.

      If the artists will get paid, and not the labels, I'd use it - especially if the .NAP gets hacked and I can use the music I just paid for on any system I own.

      My .02 non-euro worth.

      • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:57PM (#2775727)
        > give it two weeks and .NAP will be .HACKED

        Suppose you have a private and public key. When you download a .NAP, it's encrypted by the client on the other end with your public key. The only box that can decrypt the .NAP is yours, as only your box has the private key.

        Assuming this is the implementation, in order to crack .NAP, you'd need a mechanism of sending your private key along with any .NAP file you send to another user.

        Since it's a closed-source client, and since the primary use of a hack to supply private keys along with the .NAP file will be to circumvent the copy control measure of the .NAP file format, any attempt to implement an open-source whatusedtobenapster client will run afoul of the DMCA.

        Not that I can see anyone wasting time implementing this, when there are free (as in speech and beer) alternatives.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Heh ...

          No matter what sort of encryption system they decide to use, one fact remains.

          The Napster software on your PC is capable of decrypting the .NAP files on your PC. We know that this is true, because your computer can play those files.

          Odds are that a .NAP file is really an .MP3 file with an encryption layer. Dig into the Napster client, and eventually you WILL find the place in the code where the encryption layer is removed. Insert a trap there, and save the data in .MP3 format.
        • by DocSnyder ( 10755 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @06:35PM (#2775952)
          Assuming this is the implementation, in order to crack .NAP, you'd need a mechanism of sending your private key along with any .NAP file you send to another user.

          That's quite easy:

          Hi! How are you?

          I send you this file in order to have your advice

          See you later. Thanks
    • Umm yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sulli ( 195030 )
      Fuck that. Hundreds of mp3s on my iPod, more as soon as I get around to ripping them, and they want me to use an incompatible format? I suppose their license required it, but it sounds to me like it's being set up to fail.

      MP3 is the standard, end of story. It's as much a standard as CD is. People will switch to .NAP, WMA, or even OGG ... oh, I dunno, just as soon as they switch to DVD-Audio, which will be well after we are all dead.

    • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:46PM (#2775657)
      There will be some unrestricted files in MP3 format, but when the rights holder requests it, we'll wrap their music files in a security format that defines how the file can be used.

      In other words: we've been legally required to implement a security layer on most MP3 files. But it's just a code wrapper, and if you're persistent enough, you can strip it right back off. Just don't mention our name on your "Downloads" page.

    • I'm all for giving the artists a cut of the subscription.

      Huh? I'm lost. You're not giving money to the artist. You're giving money to the RIAA and the music monopolies. In the end, the artists might get $0.00000000021 from your sale.

      You want to support the artists and screw over the RIAA? Download the MP3 and cut them a check or at least a $5.
    • by Phil Wherry ( 122138 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @06:10PM (#2775808) Homepage
      I couldn't agree more.

      The industry needs to understand a few things.

      • People despise copy restrictions. Copy restrictions make it a little more difficult for the amateur thief. They make it lots more difficult for people who want to pay for music but use it in ways that "feel" fair but that don't line up exactly with a narrow-minded view of those in charge of "rights management."

      • Paying for music isn't scary. Pay-per-use or pay-per-download is scary because it's not predictable. So long as the pricing is below some threshold of pain (I'm guessing $15/month but I'm no expert), I suspect that folks will be largely willing to "pay the music bill" rather than simply trade among themselves. I suspect that some system of royalty allocation could be worked out based on number of downloads that would split the monthly fee among the various players.

      • For heaven's sake! Music is an expressive medium - that's why people want to share it! So the for-pay services need to take advantage of that. Just last night I burned an 18-track CD that consists of a mix of music I enjoy. If I were able to upload my playlist to the aforementioned service, a few of my friends might wind up downloading the files and burning the same CD (particularly if the client software made that easy). Artists (and labels) would get paid for their efforts. And it's enabling me to do something I really can't do right now: share a mix CD with friends without the vague nagging feeling that I'm doing some wrong to the very artists whose music I enjoy. I'd pay for that, though I'd still want it to be flat rate.

      • Where's the revenue growth to be found? Ancillary services beyond the basic download-some-music flat-rate service are one option. Flat-rate models will support periodic price increases if the perceived value is there: I'm unlikely to gripe too much if the service goes from $15/month to $17/month in a year's time if I'm finding it valuable.
      Sure, there's risk involved in doing this. But I'm not sure it's a big risk: the industry really needs to take the leap of faith and understand that when nearly all of the music-listening public thinks that digital rights management, endless restrictions, damaged media, etc. are a bad idea, perhaps they really need to try something new that provides a mutual benefit.
  • This is going to be like looking in on a swap meet of really lame baseball cards. There will be about 7 users when this thing roles out.

    Hopefully it comes with a new chat client so that when one user reports that all AOL "You've got ____" messages are cleared to trade on the system, another user can reply back "Awesome!!!!!"
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:31PM (#2775566)
    Lessee here. The new Napster...
    • It costs money.
    • It's not MP3.
    • It's MP3, but with copy protection wrappers.
    • You can only download a certain number of tracks per month.
    And last, but not least, from the "new FAQ": "Why should I pay when I can get it for free somewhere else?", the answer is "You mean aside from the fact that Napster is the coolest?"

    After I wiped the coffee off my keyboard, I kept reading, and saw "file sharing communities that pay copyright holders and provide simple, useful tools to help you do what you want with your digital music collection are going to prevail."

    Well, sure, but the last time I checked, paying for the privilege of being Hilary Rosen's bitch and copy-crippling my MP3s qualified as "what I want to do with my music collection".

    I propose that for 2002, all articles concerning RIAA-endorsed music subscription services go under "It's funny. Laugh".

    • by MulluskO ( 305219 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @06:51PM (#2776044) Journal
      I just bought a new computer and I can't find my files. What happened to them?

      I always wondered when using Napster, "What group of people used this service?" Then I remember, during it's peak usage, everyone. I think that's why Napster was so great. It gave me something about computers to which my non-geek friends could relate. I remember knowing people who bought computers and subscribed to the internet because of Napster.

      On a side note, the recent recession must be realated to Napster use in some way to the recent economic downturn.
  • Are there VC's who are actually pouring more money into this? Haven't they learned with the .com crash that you can't turn a profit running a free service. And who wants to pay to download music they can rip themselves or from friends?
  • Why would I go back to napster, or anything like napster, when gnutella has been serving me fine since the day napster shut down it's service?
  • Issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:39PM (#2775615) Homepage Journal
    There are some issues that make this significant. The first is, there need to sources of online music that are unaffiliated with the copyright owners but also trying to legitimately compensate artists/copyright holders. Napster got spanked because they weren't even trying to follow the rules. So the otherwise valid argument that online music wasn't being made available in a fair market couldn't be heard. Now it can be. As a result the copyright hoarders risk subjecting themselves to antitrust violations if they aren't careful about how they do business.

    It also helps to secure legitimate venues where artists with the moxie to dive into the digital revolution headfirst instead of trying to control everything like their pig corporate counterpartts can debut their work yet still have a chance of seeing some return.

    Any information distribution scheme that attempts to exploit the natural efficiencies of digital interchange is significant, since the copyright vultures are intent on preventing consumers and artists from enjoying these benefits - they want to cut their costs and gouge us for more. No legitimate competition means their monopolies remain unchallenged.

  • That's funny (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 )
    Seems kind of sad that so much work will be done on something that noone will use.

    Aw, poor Napster. Compare to the musicians' lament: Seems kind of sad that so much work will be done on something that everyone will steal.
    • the musicians' lament: Seems kind of sad that so much work will be done on something that everyone will steal.

      An artist works for passion, a company works for greed.
      • >An artist works for passion, a company works for greed.

        What utter and complete bullshit. Every artist I know hopes to make a living (at least) at what they do.
        • Re:That's funny (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kindbud ( 90044 )
          And that is what is wrong with most art today. Artists feel entitled. That is a new phenomenon that developed because of the rise of the recorded music industry, National Endowment for the Arts, and so on, most of which arose in the past half century or so. Before that, art was not a commodity to be sold like soda pop. Now it is. So don't be surprised when it comes to the bottom line, and people want commodity prices for commodity art.
        • Yeah - and does every artist you know have another job? How many of them get paid for what they do? How many of them stop doing it because they can't get paid?

          If they stop because they don't make money -- they aren't artists, capitalists.
  • I can't see too many people paying for a P2P service. Why only share MP3's that the RIAA/MPAA deem alright to share, when you can go to some other P2P service and get everything for free? Lame.
  • So, anyone want to start putting numbers on the time it'll take before .NAP files are cracked?

    Somewhere between 1-2 hours is my guess =)

    Will the app becalled "DeNAP"?
  • Money on Napster (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WiggyWack ( 88258 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @05:48PM (#2775677) Homepage
    Actually, the "Artists Make Money" section was somewhat interesting.

    If I can put my music/audio on Napster and then get paid whenever it changes hands, that might be interesting. used to have the "Pay for play" system where artists could get money each time their music was played or downloaded through the site.

    At first that system was awesome - it was free for artists AND the listeners! But then got bought out and you had to pay $20/month to be part of the program and they started adding all these things which made it really complex. So I quit that.

    But if registering my stuff with Napster can get me cash, I'm interested.

    There might be some cost to the artist (or maybe it'll be free in the beginning) but it could be cool.
  • anyone make out the URL at []? (-:

  • by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @06:02PM (#2775751) Homepage
    That is what Napster will become if the new incarnation is widely adopted.

    It will act like a massive distributed file converter, changing billions of MP3 files into .nap files, making Napster the number one controller of digital rights on the planet.

    SONY made a small attempt at this with thier proprietary format and portable player that would not play MP3s. It came with software to convert your MP3s to thier format. It bombed.

    The new Napster a brilliant idea on paper; use everyones bandwidth and existing mp3s to create a billion file pool of locked music upon which royalties must be paid, in a fully automated system.

    The record companies save having to host and convert thier catalogues, and have a ready made system for effortlessly controlling billions of files.

    Radio stations will then be compelled to play from .nap files so that compliance is 100% in that arena.

    Next of course, they will attempt to legislate that all other formats comply with the .nap DRM schema so that the other sharing services can be brought into line.

    If we are not careful its "Bye Bye" clean Ogg Vorbis, and any other tool that helps you use and share music the way that you used to.

    Lets see who signs up for it. What a story.
  • by KelsoLundeen ( 454249 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @06:04PM (#2775759)
    One thing I don't understand: why keep harping about "sharing?" As I read this -- the new Napster FAQ -- you no longer share music, right?

    You simply connect to Napster, Inc and grab your limited tracks? So this is essentially a crippled version of the "jukebox in the sky" model that everyone has been talking about but no one can implement?

    I mean, this is like back before they got bitch-slapped by the RIAA, right? When you stored your music in a "locker" and could access it anywhere? (Which remains an interesting idea, although I have no idea how it works now on Last time I checked, all but two of my songs were "locked down" and a pop-up let me know that were "working diligently" to restore the music in my locker. Sorta like the same lame rhetoric that Napster has: "We're working as fast as we can to get you MP3s to play on your MP3 player.")

    Now, okay, maybe someone can explain this to me. I don't mean this to be a troll or flamebait. I'm actually curious about this: why in the world would I *pay* Napster simply to get a crippled version of (take your pick) Morpheus?

    Granted, it's nice to see that artists are going to get paid. But -- again -- maybe I'm missing something here -- but if the RIAA four years had foresight enough to deal with the MP3 onslaught in a shrewd, savvy way, we'd (a) have the great big jukebox in the sky at this point and (b) the artists (at this point) *would* be getting paid.

    So by supporting Napster -- or MusicNet or PressPlay -- what I'm essentially doing is two things: (1) paying protection so as not to get fingered by the RIAA and (2) supporting the RIAA in their quest to *litigate* technology out of the marketplace.

    This new Napster is "approved" technology where the old technologies are maverick technologies, unapproved, and therefore illegal?

    I get the sense that Napster will become some sort of litmus test for the RIAA. It's going to be one of the incubators (MusicNet and PressPlay being the others) to see how profit can be derived from on-line music.

    And again, I got no problem with giving artists their fair-share, but I'm very uncomfortable with the RIAA being in the middle.

    What I'd like to see is a Napster that takes the RIAA out of the equation. I'd like to be able to give Bob Dylan or whomever my five cent listening fee and know that it's going into Dylan's pockets. I don't want some fat-cat exec skimming 4.5 cents from that nickel in order to support his Lexus habit or the fact that he or she has to pay rent on his overbig house in the Hamptons.

    Napster? PressPlay? Forget it.
    • by moire_theory ( 544855 ) <groff AT groffweb DOT com> on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @06:45PM (#2776004)
      why in the world would I *pay* Napster simply to get a crippled version of (take your pick) Morpheus?

      I've been seeing similar statements frequently in other threads as well. I think this type of statement really exemplifies an odd ethical state-- think about what you're saying. The clear reason is that one choice is illegal, the other legal. With one choice, you are buying intellectual property as agreed upon by the publishers (maybe the creators), and in the other case, you're taking the property without permission. Really, this is similar to saying, "why pay for a newspaper every morning when I can swipe one from the guy on the subway?"

      Admittedly, I routinely download copyrighted material, yet I have a clear understanding of the real economics and ethics of what I'm doing. In this scenario, it's not uncommon for me to actually purchase the media and share my own money with the content creators (although I will concede that with music, too much does go to the publishers. Yet this is a different story, and is too frequently confused with MP3 contraversy-- after all, the creators are getting little either way, and even less in the case that the music is redistributed, making it a weak justification in my opinion).

      Don't get me wrong; I think Napster's current business model is skewed and overly restrictive, and it will doubtfully work. But the fact that so many users have to ask the question of "why?" expresses a worrying lack of understanding and consideration.
      • > Really, this is similar to saying, "why pay for a
        > newspaper every morning when I can swipe one from
        > the guy on the subway?

        It's the same argument you've been hearing for years about why pirating software is ok. In your scenerio, the guy on the subway paid for that paper. If I steal it from him, he will have to spend more money buying a second copy for himself. If I download some 1's and 0's arranged in a pleasent way, I'm not really taking anything from anyone.

        Lost sales? Not really. Most pirates are kids who don't have the money anyway. I download a lot of stuff, mostly to play with then delete. If I find some gem that I will use to be more productive in my work, I will definately buy it.

    • The artist has never gotten paid. Once you realize that you'll understand everything else. Direct payment schemes are complete horseshit because you can't live off donations. Ask any bum asking for a quarter on the street. One month your single might be a hit and you'll make 2500$ easy but then for the next three months you get maybe 100$ worth of downloads. You could sell sperm and make more money in four months if you're verile. Hence record companies. They show up with a paper that says "we'll pay you some up front signing bonus and you'll make a percentage of all money made from your work under the condition that 1) we retain the right to charge you for certain costs of promotion henceforth known as "recoupables" 2) you make as many records and perform as many shows as we decide at the signing of the contract 3) you work will belong to us though we will always give you credit for being the creator". This works for alot of artists which is why you go to the store and find CDs on the racks for sale. These artists said they wanted a chance to make money performing their music and signed over the rights to their work. Having a middleman in the music business is always going to be inevitable. If you've ever worked on commission you'd understand why this is so. They can give an artist a 50k signing bonus so they don't have to go hungry whilst waiting for their music to sell. Once an album is released and promotion is paid for by record sales (recoupables) the artist starts making their money and can then afford the extravagances of the rock star lifestyle or whathaveyou. The artist isn't going to get anywhere asking for handouts on a website. Yet again, ask your nearest bum on the street if he makes enough to live off of while waiting for his music to take off. He'll probably fucking mug you.
  • by Rayonic ( 462789 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @06:07PM (#2775782) Homepage Journal
    The general public knows the word "Napster", and that name alone could carry it to success. Yeah, the FastTrack network has gotten huge, and Napster hasn't even been up for a long time, but Napster still has some big name recognition with Joe Public.

    I mean, can't anyone think of other cases where people chose an expensive product over a free one? I can think of one or two off the top of my head.
  • The sad thing, IMHO, is that I'm sure a lot of people will pick back up using it because a) they don't know any better and b) they think that paying a bit for the music makes everything OK (after all, the artists are getting paid, right?).

    I can't help but think that we'd all be better off if the RIAA companies would agree to start a subscription service where people can download songs for $1.00 per song in MP3 (unprotected) format. That kind of pricing makes it so that most people wouldn't mind paying for the music (after all, getting it from your friends would just be a bitch and it's only a dollar). Not to mention, you could avoid the "filler" tracks that come on many albums.

    A buck per song. MP3 format so I can take it with me when I go for a jog/sit in the bookstore/mow the lawn/visit the outhouse. If the RIAA companies "trim the fat" a little to get production costs down, everyone could be happy.

    • Say you only buy a single song? That's 1$ charged to your credit card. Most credit card issuers will not support such small transactions. Not only that but banks offering marchent accounts charge money for the processing of a credit card for a fucking dollar. In some cases merchant banks charge several dollars in transaction fees for transactions under 15 to 20$. So with a minimum of 15$ for buy anything from a pay per play website I'm STILL paying as much as I am for a CD from the local retailer. No one saves any money and the artist still doesn't see a dime of my money until they make the record company enough money to cover recoupables. That also excludes record companies' bumper crop, teenagers. Snot nosed kids buy more music than anybody and they don't have credit cards and it is rare they have access to their parent's credit cards. They either get mom and dad to give them cash to buy it, make the money themselves, or get CDs as gifts from ma and pa. My teenage brother's bought enough CDs to have bought himself a Ferrari. He didn't buy it with a credit card though. As for asking for a parent's credit card every time Jonny Jackass and Susy Screwme want to buy the new Linkn Logs or Sync'N single that won't fly with most people. "Hey mom can I pay a dollar for this single and then have your bank charge you an additional 15%?" For a dollar? Right. Further stressing a households credit is no way to try to make money on music.
  • I guess users should be able to charge the RIAA for distribution charges since they'll be using their own bandwidth and local machine's storage for the distribution of these silly .nap files, that is assuming, without having taken the time to read their new business model document, that this is still a file sharing peer to peer type system, but one which only hardcore capitalists will want to use.


  • Some crap about subscription services and charging one dollar per song. As usual, I probably should have thought about it a bit more beforehand. Would one dollar per song be profitable?

    I'm just asking because I know I've certainly never produced an album or promoted an artist. What kind of costs are involved here? If you wanted to produce an album (assuming CD sales would continue as well as online distribution) and then make the songs available for download in MP3 format, would $1.00 be a good price at which to sell? Would that make money for the artist as well as the company?

    I'm guessing that albums and singles that are really successful are those which have sold upwards of one million copies, but that math doesn't seem to work out on a per-song basis. Assuming an artist/band has ONE hit single that one million people download and pay $1.00 for, that's only $1 million in revenue. Considering the likely costs involved, it doesn't seem worth it.

    Anyone got any idea what it costs these days to have a professionally-produced album? How about the costs of maintaining a file-download facility like the one needed to support this kind of MP3 distribution?

  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @06:29PM (#2775917) Homepage
    I am on the Napster team that created this new Digital Rights Managment file format.

    We did extensive research and analysis on all of the available encryptions schemes. We even considered rolling our own. Based on the fact that all client programs would be required to have the decryption algorythm, and at some point the content must be presented to the user, we concluded that security rested entirely within the DMCA.

    After reaching this conclusion, we did what any good programmer would have done. We decided not to waste time writing redundant code. We reused an available package. At the insistance of the lawyers, we spent a few minutes customizing the package to be incompatible with the original. The .NAP format is hereby implemented using ROT-14.

    • What? OK, you just gave the roadmap to NAP files "encryption" so therefore under DMCA you are guilty. Furthermore by posting it on /. you've made illegal for anyone to link to the article, or post it. Crafty move, musta been a lawyer in a previous life....
      • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @07:09PM (#2776150) Homepage
        OK, you just gave the roadmap to NAP files "encryption" so therefore under DMCA you are guilty

        What I posted was purely expressive speach, devoid of any functional aspect. It was therefore covered by the first amendment. All I did was reffer to an encryption scheme by name, without discussing any implementation details. Had I included implementation details I might have violated the DCMA by "providing aid or advice". Had I posted executable code then the functional aspect would have exceded the expressive aspect, and would not have been protected by the first amendment. The courts are still arguing over the expressive aspect / functional aspect in reguard to source code. So far the concensus seems to be to allow source code to be restricted based on it's functional aspect because of the fact that any other resolution would totally gut the DCMA.

        As you can see, the situation is quite clear, and there is no justifacation for any good American to break the law. That goes for the rest of the world too. If you're not with us, you're against us. Any failure to comply with our copyright laws is not only unamerican, it's an obvious attempt to undermine the US economy!

        Terrorists everywhere!

        • And the DMCA (Damned Millenium Copyright Act NEEDS to be gutted and SOON, & Copyright terms need to go back to something realistic rather than life plus 70 years. The abuse by the copyright cartel of the DMCA has grown ever more ridiculous as time goes on. Songwriters quit writing songs and file lawsuits because it's more profitible, than taking a chance at what you've done all of you life and grown proficent at. Musicians are threatened with lawsuits for sending out press packs with Xerox copies of newspaper and magazine articles reviewing a show they did or their own cd.

          My money is on three days max. before there is software available to convert NAP to MP3. Remember if I can hear it I can copy it, through my Soundblaster Live it's as simple as record what you hear. In Total Recorder [] I can do an MP3 on the fly. Another proprietary format just adds to the confusion, without doing anything to alleviate the licensing problems that plague the online music arena, and encryption of the music, downright silly...DMusic [] has an article [] by Ben Silverman where he quotes some recording industry execs.about what they've done in the past year. Following suit won't make it better only worse. My 2 Euros worth.

  • I think Vegas should seriously considering putting odds on crypto standards. Napster's new sound format will have a built in security mechanism that is (I can only assume) based on some sort of encryption. So the bets are:

    1) How long before somebody cracks the standard?
    2) How long before Napster sues the person who cracks the standard under the DMCA?

    Oh and word to the wise of whoever cracks it, don't take credit, just place it anonymously on some newsgroup and dissapear. Let somebody else take the heat.
  • by RainbowSix ( 105550 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @07:27PM (#2776228) Homepage
    People use the new Napster, and the RIAA make money where they wouldn't have otherwise.

    People don't use Napster, and the RIAA claims we are a bunch of pirating hoolagins and therefore justifies more laws and restrictions.

    Start hording those copy protections free hard drives and CD burners...
  • to survive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fatgraham ( 307614 )
    napster(the owners) should have sold their trademark/domain. its a VERY well known brand (a lot of generic people on the street -not literal- know the brand)

    oh well. <awaits "napster closes down" before march 02>
  • GarageBand [] has an interesting idea - they take unknowns and when the internet fan base takes an interest in an artist they sign them on and try to launch them into traditional outlets. Frankly, I don't see why this couldn't be extended further from the traditonal markets then they have... they have the distribution capabilities to market the music from their servers direct to the fans...
  • Microsoft & Napster (Score:2, Informative)

    by ruvreve ( 216004 )
    And you thought microsoft was going to miss out on P2P??? Think again, they have a hand in the release of PressPlay a NEW napster-clone. Check out betanews [] for all the details.

    Can't decide whats better...having to use .NAP or .WMP (Thats windows media player files for you linux-only people)
  • by brocktune ( 512373 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @08:14PM (#2776435) Homepage
    I should have expected the Slashdot Socialist Brigade to rise yet again.

    This is the best argument you guys can come up with? "It's not the same as MP3, and besides, I can steal it anyway, so why should I pay? Anyway, only the fat cats at the record companies would benefit. If I could pay the artists directly, then yeah, maybe."

    Why stop there? Why shouldn't you pay programmers directly for software instead of their employers? When I buy a gallon of milk, shouldn't the money go directly to the dairy farmer instead of the grocery store? [ PETA version: it goes to the cow. ] And of course every penny of that $25K Explorer should go to the auto workers that built it.

    It's very simple, folks. These artists chose to enter into an agreement that stated they gave up the right to market their work. That's the way business works - sometimes you make a good deal, sometimes you don't.

    I wish folks would stop rationalizing theft in the name of some distorted notion of "freedom".
  • by nebby ( 11637 ) on Wednesday January 02, 2002 @10:38PM (#2776949) Homepage
    Ok, from what I can tell, the "new" Napster is basically going to make it so music available on it results in copyright owners getting paid. If you find music on Napster, someone somewhere approved its presence.

    So basically, for popular music, this translates to the RIAA getting paid. This is what people bitch about, somehow using their hatred of the RIAA to justify breaking the law, but of course this is legitimate business since the artists signed away their copyright to the record label(s)..

    I speculate that during the downtime Napster has been able to get thousands of artists "approved" to use the service. This means that when they get back online I'd guess that many people who initially sign up (and with the Napster name, I think there will be more than just a few) will have their entire MP3 collections tagged as approved with a few exceptions. This is actually one good thing that comes from a monopoly on music: only half a dozen fat cats to bargain with and you get the right to re-distribute (or in Napster's case, piggy back the distribution of) a shitload of music :)

    However, it also seems that Joe Q. Artist will be able to "publish" his music on Napster and get paid for it. If a lot of people migrate over to the new Napster, it's possible that many artists currently being screwed by the RIAA might say "fuck it" and just release their stuff on their own via Napster.

    The .NAP thing, as anyone with half a brain realizes, is just there to appease the record labels. Nap2mp3 will be out a few hours after Napster goes live, but this isn't really a big problem. The issue here is that depending on how much press they get and how many people want to actually pay for the service (virtually unlimited music LEGALLY for a monthly fee? I'd sign up if it didn't suck and I can get them to play on my portable.) Napster very well might be poised due to their well known name brand to begin the weening of artists off the RIAA for those who want to distribute exclusively through MP3 (or, actually, NAP files.)

    I don't see it being much of a big deal to the tens of thousands of college kids when the phrase "Hey Napster is back up!" is uttered around campuses to shell out $15 on mom's Visa in order to log in. I'm talking about the non-Slashdot reading CS majors who shower and used to enjoy downloading the trendy songs they heard on the radio via Napster. These people are not going to complain about NAP and the few tech savvy will convert them to MP3, and will not make the connection that Napster is making money off of their bandwidth.

    I think it might just work. The question really is weither or not there are a lot of people who dropped sharing MP3s altogether after Napster died (and didn't try Gnutella, etc.) and will be willing to pay a bit each month to start getting new music again. Also, there will probably be a few people who switch just so they're not breaking the law anymore (if the Slashdot "Information wants to be something I don't have to pay for.. I mean.. Free!" piracy team can believe that.) We'll see I guess.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.