Remember Hilary Rosen? She was the CEO of the RIAA back when Napster help peer-to-peer filesharing go mainstream. Rosen was the public face of the most hated organization on the planet, at least as far as nerdy internet people were concerned. She was our punching bag until she retired in 2003, but by then the damage was done.
On the tenth anniversary of Napster going live, Rosen shares her thoughts and memories with Billboard, and she’s very insightful:
There’s been this time period between 2002 and 2006, maybe 2007, where there just weren’t enough deals done. There were so many innovative ways to deliver music and not a lot of licensing support from the music business. That’s just not the record companies, the music publishers have been really brought kicking to the table. It’s one of the reasons the record companies gave up trying to license the whole work and said ‘we’ll just license the sound recording rights,’ because the music publishers were so difficult. The one lesson the industry did not learn after Napster was speed. When you’re talking about technology, you have to move quickly on opportunities. The constant refrain is ‘there’s no money in these opportunities. There’s no advances. We don’t see the pay off.’ But the thing you have to keep pushing back on is ‘what are you comparing it to?’ If you’re comparing it to physical sales or comparing it to an iTunes download, then you’re right, it’s going to be hard. But what you really need to compare to is how else fans are getting the music, which is free. The lessons of Napster, of rapid fire adoption, have been too quickly forgotten. The industry has moved a little too slow and have not benefited as much as they might have by the benefits of technology.
She’s right of course. But the industry is still just now starting to pay attention. Well worth the read.