When was the last time you took to the streets for a Web site?
UnderGroundOnline, an entertainment portal focused on the 18-34
year old market, recently took to Silicon Alley in New York with a
massive combat truck, a barrel of protest signs, and a mission
Hundreds of supporters rallied around the truck on Friday,
holding up signs like "Down with Metallica" (the first band to sue
the music-swapping portal) and "The Day The Music Died!"
The protests follow a ruling on Wednesday against the
controversial San Mateo-based company, when U.S. District Judge
Marylin Hall Patel said Napster was "clearly in violation" of
copyright infringement, and ordered the site to close its doors by
Friday (appeals have stayed the closing until sometime in
"We're mad as hell about the Napster ruling and we're not going
to take it anymore," said J Moses, CEO and President of
UnderGroundOnline at the protest. "Let's raise some hell!"
Suffice it to say, the Recording Industry Association of America
(RIAA), may no longer be quite as happy at itself for bringing on
the lawsuit, even despite the recent court win. Analysts have
deluged the press (which has in turn deluged the public) with near
guarantees that the lawsuit has in fact widened the demand for
online digital music.
Chris MacAskill, CEO of Santa-Clara-based Mightywords.com, which
sells short works of fiction and other literature at its Web site,
says it's clear that Napster caught the music industry by surprise
"They (Napster) provide a service that's nice and convenient,"
says MacAskill. "The music labels have been slow in providing
anything like it that people could pay for."
Consequently, several similar-type services to Napster's,
including Redwood City-based Gnutella, have already seen a
tremendous increase in their customer base since Friday. Gnutella
registered over 1 million unique hits in the past three days alone,
peaking at 75,000 hits per hour!
In conjunction with the popularity boost, Napster on Saturday
called for a "Buy-cott" weekend, urging its 22 million registered
users to buy a CD from an artist they originally heard through
"File-sharing among music fans helps to create a larger
community of passionate music lovers, which allows the industry to
sell even more music to fans," says Shawn Fanning, the 19-year-old
creator of Napster in a written statement. "To prove just how much
our users love music, and to show the buying power of such a large
group of music fans, we are asking all of our users to join
us...for a 'Napster Buy-cott.'"
Several industry studies, most recently by Gartner Group and
Forrester Research, have all concluded Napster users are more
likely to purchase CDs than people who don't use the service.
EMI Digital Distribution is so far the only member of the "Big
Five" music companies (Universal Music, BMG, Sony Music
Entertainment, Warner Music Group) to develop a somewhat cohesive
online digital music strategy. It recently offered about 100 albums
and 100 singles available for purchase through its Web site.
Napster, conversely, has a music and artist offering in the
hundreds of thousands.
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