At the packed Digital Distribution and the Music Industry event at Olympia, London yesterday, Frank Hall, webmaster for Metallica, spoke about the band's current litigation against Napster - the Web site accused by many of distributing pirated music MP3s.
"I’ve got nothing against Napster, I do believe that Napsters’ business model has to be changed. Why should songs be shared across networks, what about intellectual copyright, and the need to earn money from your efforts?"
"The issue is how to create a sustainable business model?"
Paul Schatzkin of songs.com agrees: "What’s interesting about Napster is that they have failed to yield dollar one of income, sure, they have backing, but we can’t assume the free distribution model is going to last forever."
Reach for the Sky Hall responds: "There are other business models emerging - for example, look at the subscription-based deal offered by Sky for its TV services. That’s how I see distribution of music online progressing, you pay some kind of one off fee to your favourite content provider, and you get to download music and burn CDs."
Gerard O’Farrell, founder of Fivetrees, which offers a Web-based service for independent musicians, spoke up for Napster: "What Napster has done is create a community of millions of users who have become accustomed to looking for their music online. There is a need to do this for this industry to develop - the technology has to become pervasive."
Summing up, Desiree Miloshevic, CEO, MusicBank.net UK tells this story: "The issues remind me of the personal computer industry in the eighties, when Bill Gates said ‘If people are going to steal software, then let it be my software that they steal.’"