Music News Recap: With More mp3s! Good For Your Health!

What’s been going on in the world of music lately? Read on to get the scoop on your favorite artists, and start some discussion about current music-related events!


Richard Hell

Richard Hell has “repaired” The Voidoids’ second album, Destiny Street, and is set to release his new and (hopefully) improved efforts on September 1st.

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The RIAA witch-hunt: Are the artists benefiting?

Ever since Napster revolutionized the way in which music fanatics the world over discover, purchase and share music, with layers and layers of sounds and orchestrations being reduced to highly compressed MP3 files, downloadable over broadband within a matter of seconds, the music industry has been hard-pressed to find a way to protect the profitability of its product while still embracing new means of experiencing music.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which states its mission as “[fostering] a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members’ creative and financial vitality,” has responded with a barrage of lawsuits and settlements. RIAA first targeted Napster (with a lofty pricetag of $270 million) before settling with others, including Kazaa, and even YouTube. RIAA also continues to go after college students, recently mailing the thirteenth round of letters to universities — still avoiding UW-Madison, urging them to pass along identifying information of users of file sharing programs including LimeWire.

This all sounds mostly kosher, in principle. If all music fans downloaded their music and never invested funds in the artists’ work, the rule of capitalist society would eventually mean that very musicians would be in a financial position to produce work while receiving little to no income. However, there appears to be a piece missing in the puzzle of how the RIAA has dealt with the file-sharing boom: The artists themselves. An article last week in the New York Post reported that none of the millons of dollars resulting from these lawsuits have filtered down to many artists:

“Artist managers and lawyers have been wondering for months when their artists will see money from the copyright settlements and how it will be accounted for,” said lawyer John Branca, who has represented Korn, Don Henley, and The Rolling Stones, among others.

The Post article further reports that some record labels, including EMI and Warner Music, have received proceeds from the RIAA’s lawsuits, but are still in the midst of processing the settlements and will be sharing them with writers and artists. The only question that remains, then, is “When?”

In related news, Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor has followed in the footsteps of Radiohead by releasing a new instrumental album ‘Ghosts I-IV’ with an innovative, tiered pricing structure, ranging from a complete, online edition for $5 to a deluxe, limited-edition box set for $300. Three days have passed since the album’s release and the deluxe editions have completely sold out and downloads are continuing to occur at startling, server-overloading rates. Additionally, Reznor offered the music under a Creative Commons license, which gives listeners a large degree of freedom over noncommericial use.

Perhaps Reznor’s success will serve as an example for record labels and other artists of new business models that can benefit both artist and music fan.

— Joe Erbentraut, True Endeavors Communications and Public Relations Intern

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