Napster is under fire from all corners of the music
industry, but Alan McGee, the man who discovered Oasis, said that
overall the music sharing system is actually helping the
The Creation Records founder said in an interview with
vnunet.com that while Napster should not provide free
access to copyrighted music, it is helping the music industry by
offering easier access to bands' material.
"I don't think people should be getting music for free," said
McGee. "But Napster overall is very good for the music industry. It
makes people interested in bands' back catalogues."
McGee's comments came as he announced plans today to float his
new record label, Poptones, next month. Poptones plans to raise
£2.05m through a placing on London's Alternative Investment
Market, which would value the company at £11.44m.
The label is gaining notoriety by promising to outsmart the
major labels by moving fast to embrace new technologies such as
digital music downloads and to undercut high street shops by
selling direct online at a fixed price of £9.99 per CD.
Poptones will begin selling its first releases online in
September, accompanied by downloadable audio clips. Digital
downloads of whole songs and albums will follow, but no date has
been set for this service.
Poptones will also distribute physical CDs through high street
retailers, and McGee was keen to stress that it is "not a dotcom
record company". He has some 15 new bands in the pipeline, but
insisted that he is not looking for the new Oasis. "The point is
not to have a new Oasis or whatever, but to have culturally
important and good music."
McGee said downloadable music purchases combined with the
Napster-type distribution system would lead to a shift in the way
music is sold, from physical CDs and records to subscription-based
access and downloadable music.
"We're heading towards a subscription model where people will
say 'let's have a couple of Clash songs and a couple of Elvis
Costello songs'," rather than entire CDs, said McGee. Poptones is
considering a move to this model of distribution, he added.
"This means more music for more people at a cheaper price. If
anything, music is going to become more popular."
In a separate announcement, US company EMusic.com said today
that it has launched a subscription service allowing unlimited MP3
downloads. Users will pay according to how many MP3s they
The company, which describes itself as a "legitimate alternative
to tools like Napster" said it has a digital music library with in
excess of 125,000 MP3 files. It said it would use subscription fees
to pay artists and record labels.
Controversy surrounding Napster has been linked with a boom in
interest in online music. The number of adults accessing online
music sites has increased by almost half since the start of the
year, according to New York-based Cyber Dialogue. Meanwhile,
Napster is now the UK's forty-second most visited site among home
users, according to Net Value.
However, the music sharing system remains embroiled in a number
of legal spats with recording artists such as Dr Dre and Metallica,
and is fighting a lawsuit by the Recording Industry Association of
America, which calls for much of the company to be shut down.
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