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The Napster Problem (Part 2):
By Tyler Tullock
2001, Tyler Tullock. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.

Last month I described a new type of computer application (program) that has been impacting the music business in positive and negative ways. These programs are known as peer-to-peer applications because they allow two computers to trade computer files of any kind directly without the need for a server to sit out on the Internet to store the files. Basically, they cut out the middleman, digitally speaking. The most notable and notorious of these is a program called Napster. Read last month's article for a more in-depth explanation of Napster and other peer-to-peer programs.

Solutions:

My belief is that there will always and forever be programs that allow the trading of computer programs and files directly from any computer on the Internet to any other. Since audio recordings on computers are simply another type of computer file it is also my belief that your favorite song will only be a mouse click away now and forever.

My proposed solution for independent recording artists is a two-prong approach. They rely on each other so much that I believe either alone would have limited impact, but these two actions together could have enormous impact on the future of music distribution.

1. Mass-media based "pirating hurts the artists you love" campaign.

Artists should form a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to educate the public on how much piracy directly impacts the artist. Television, Radio, Print & the Internet should all be used to air continual public service messages where artists (especially) low-budget independents talk about how piracy adversely affects their work and makes the next album suffer and possibly keep them from being able to produce a follow-up album.

2. Super Cheap (& profitable) CD downloads.

Artists must make entire CDs available for download at their web sites. Artists could allow listeners to download each song for only 49 cents each or download the entire album for only 1.96! All album artwork and lyrics, etc. should also be available for free download so that fans wanting to burn their own CDs could print out the album artwork for the CD cover and tray card. I believe when combined with a piracy education campaign, this will enable listeners to download the entire album immediately & cheaply directly from the artist and not a Napster type service that cheats the artist out of hard earned royalties. Combine this with a simplified and streamlined payment process and it could become the new standard for downloading music over the Internet!

What's in it for the Artist?
1. Double the royalty rate of most major label deals. - If you sell your album for $1.96 on your web site, as an independent artist you collect $1.96 in royalties as opposed to the major label ballpark of around a dollar per CD sold.
2. Immediate payment of royalties though the web site directly to your bank account or merchant services account (Visa / MasterCard, etc).
3. No shipping to deal with.
4. No stocking CDs.
5. No brick and mortar distribution issues.

What's in it for the consumer?
1. Cheap music.
2. High quality song downloads with songs conveniently named and properly encoded for best sound quality.
3. Immediate access to the songs purchased.
4. Immediate access to album artwork and lyrics.
5. Support for their favorite artists.

--Tyler


A short bio:
Tyler Tullock is a performing singer-songwriter. He has taught more than 3,000 students Guitar, Bass & Vocals with at least one student going Platinum. He is a former Audio Director at independent label Track Record in Seattle, WA and a former President and founder of LocalSeek Advertising Inc.; an Internet marketing company with more than 200 clients including fortune 500 companies.
His band's new album can be previewed at http://www.tylertullock.com/.

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