Interview with Courtney Love on Napster

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Wed Jun 14 08:58:02 MDT 2000


(Courtney Love is the lead singer of the rock group Hole, and has starred
in films like "The People vs. Larry Flynt" and "Man in the Moon." This is
the conclusion to an interview given in today's salon.com.)

As a user, I love Napster. It carries some risk. I hear idealistic business
people talk about how people that are musicians would be musicians no
matter what and that we're already doing it for free, so what about
copyright?

Please. It's incredibly easy not to be a musician. It's always a struggle
and a dangerous career choice. We are motivated by passion and by money.

That's not a dirty little secret. It's a fact. Take away the incentive for
major or minor financial reward and you dilute the pool of musicians. I am
not saying that only pure artists will survive. Like a few of the more
utopian people who discuss this, I don't want just pure artists to survive.

Where would we all be without the trash? We need the trash to cover up our
national depression. The utopians also say that because in their minds
"pure" artists are all Ani DiFranco and don't demand a lot of money. Why
are the utopians all entertainment lawyers and major label workers anyway?
I demand a lot of money if I do a big huge worthwhile job and millions of
people like it, don't kid yourself. In economic terms, you've got an
industry that's loathsome and outmoded, but when it works it creates some
incentive and some efficiency even though absolutely no one gets paid.

We suffer as a society and a culture when we don't pay the true value of
goods and services delivered. We create a lack of production. Less good
music is recorded if we remove the incentive to create it.

Music is intellectual property with full cash and opportunity costs
required to create, polish and record a finished product. If I invest money
and time into my business, I should be reasonably protected from the theft
of my goods and services. When the judgment came against MP3.com, the RIAA
sought damages of $150,000 for each major-label-"owned" musical track in
MP3's database. Multiply by 80,000 CDs, and MP3.com could owe the
gatekeepers $120 billion.

But what about the Plimsouls? Why can't MP3.com pay each artist a fixed
amount based on the number of their downloads? Why on earth should MP3.com
pay $120 billion to four distribution companies, who in most cases won't
have to pay a nickel to the artists whose copyrights they've stolen through
their system of organized theft?

It's a ridiculous judgment. I believe if evidence had been entered that
ultimately it's just shuffling big cash around two or three corporations, I
can only pray that the judge in the MP3.com case would have seen the RIAA's
case for the joke that it was.

I'd rather work out a deal with MP3.com myself, and force them to be
artist-friendly, instead of being laughed at and having my money hidden by
a major label as they sell my records out the back door, behind everyone's
back.

How dare they behave in such a horrified manner in regards to copyright law
when their entire industry is based on piracy? When Mister Label Head Guy,
whom my lawyer yelled at me not to name, got caught last year selling
millions of "cleans" out the back door. "Cleans" being the records that
aren't for marketing but are to be sold. Who the fuck is this guy? He wants
to save a little cash so he fucks the artist and goes home? Do they fire
him? Does Chuck Phillips of the LA Times say anything? No way! This guy's a
source! He throws awesome dinner parties! Why fuck with the status quo?
Let's pick on Lars Ulrich instead because he brought up an interesting point!

Conclusion

I'm looking for people to help connect me to more fans, because I believe
fans will leave a tip based on the enjoyment and service I provide. I'm not
scared of them getting a preview. It really is going to be a global village
where a billion people have access to one artist and a billion people can
leave a tip if they want to.

It's a radical democratization. Every artist has access to every fan and
every fan has access to every artist, and the people who direct fans to
those artists. People that give advice and technical value are the people
we need. People crowding the distribution pipe and trying to ignore fans
and artists have no value. This is a perfect system.

If you're going to start a company that deals with musicians, please do it
because you like music. Offer some control and equity to the artists and
try to give us some creative guidance. If music and art and passion are
important to you, there are hundreds of artists who are ready to rewrite
the rules.

In the last few years, business pulled our culture away from the idea that
music is important and emotional and sacred. But new technology has brought
a real opportunity for change; we can break down the old system and give
musicians real freedom and choice.

A great writer named Neal Stephenson said that America does four things
better than any other country in the world: rock music, movies, software
and high-speed pizza delivery. All of these are sacred American art forms.
Let's return to our purity and our idealism while we have this shot.

Warren Beatty once said: "The greatest gift God gives us is to enjoy the
sound of our own voice. And the second greatest gift is to get somebody to
listen to it."

And for that, I humbly thank you.

salon.com | June 14, 2000



Louis Proyect

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