The Beginning Of The End

Nettwerk Music Group Takes on the RIAA

Terry McBride is not stupid.  In fact, he’s one of the smartest and shrewdest operators in the business.  You can argue with his methods, stating he burns his artists out in the process of breaking them.  But really, don’t you have to give props to someone who turned the Barenaked Ladies, the world’s least sexy and least charismatic rock group, into an arena act?

If Terry McBride and his Nettwerk operation were located south of the border, the "New York Times" would have done a story on them, Terry would be a national hero, not quite as impressive and lionized as Steve Jobs, but respected and viewed as a role model by the younger generation.

Nettwerk manages such international superstars as Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne and Dido.  Along with middle tier acts like the aforementioned Barenaked Ladies, Sum 41 and Jars of Clay.  And DEVELOPING acts like Brand New.  Isn’t this JUST the kind of guy who should be lining up behind Mitch Bainwol and the RIAA?  I mean Terry McBride is IN BED with the major labels.  Doesn’t Nettwerk function as the A&R for Sony BMG in Canada now??

But Terry McBride is drawing the line.  Because Terry McBride knows it’s about fans, and careers, and what the RIAA is doing is eviscerating both.

We’ve been waiting for this war between the managers and the labels FOREVER!  We’ve been waiting for a backlash against Metallica versus Napster.  And now we have it.

Metallica wasn’t wholly wrong.  The original Napster put forth the notion that what it was doing was legal.  Hogwash.  Anyone with a Bar Card knew better (and isn’t it funny that Napster was run by lawyers…)  We needed a lawsuit to establish that the copyrightholders had rights, that you needed a LICENSE to utilize their material.  But those of us who actually used Napster, who were ecstatic over the advantages of such a service, advantages which ultimately resulted in the worldwide phenomenon of the iPod, were under the illusion that once the major labels got their rights reinforced, established, laid down, they’d go forth AND license.

Turned out nothing could be further from the truth.

The major label cartel, which never used Napster, which bans P2P software on all its computers, putting its head in the sand like an ostrich, not wanting to see the future, is hurting Terry McBride’s business.  And he doesn’t LIKE IT!

He tried to be a good soldier.  But his responsibility is to his acts, not his corporate brethren, and what he sees is his acts’ fans being PENALIZED for their fandom.  Hell, it’s HARD ENOUGH to break an act, you don’t want the people paying attention SCARED AWAY!

But that’s what the major labels are doing.  Sales show it.  And the iTunes Music Store is more of a ruse than a replacement business.

Terry McBride turns out to be a real rock and roller.  Not a namby-pamby who’s changing his lyrics for Wal-Mart and doing whatever his label says to pump up sales of his record.  In rock and roll, it’s what you STAND FOR that’s important.  (Very different from hip-hop.  Where the FRUITS of the labor are the most important thing…the bitches and ho’s, the ice and the iron.)

Terry’s been trying new things.  Not that they get much press in the States, but he’s innovative in a way that the major labels are not.  He’s TRYING!  And the labels are getting in his way.

So Terry drew a line in the sand.

That fiasco in the French legislature?  Where penalties for traders turned into a proposed law for licensing trading?  That was just the beginning.

This is a good story.  It’s kind of like the Mob going to the mattresses.  People LOVE IT when families fight.

The family is now in a fight.  There’s now a crack in the RIAA facade.  The one that says the only way out is to sue traders, and that they’re doing this SUCCESSFULLY, i.e., they’re reducing P2P trades.

This was an issue waiting to flare up.  While the RIAA maneuvered behind the scenes, the public consciousness moved on.  Which the RIAA thought was good for them.  Of course, this is untrue.  Since, in the heyday of Napster, when EVERYBODY was talking about music and trading same, CD sales were at their ABSOLUTE HIGHEST!  But, despite it not being a topic of everyday conversation, people were still trading, more than ever.  It was an underground movement.  Waiting for an ignition point.

Houston, we’ve got ignition.

Terry McBride, a true music business insider, one with JUICE, has now raised the question…  Is the RIAA’s strategy RIGHT?

But it’s more than that.

Is the RIAA’s strategy JUST?  Is it GOOD for music?  Good for ACTS?  Good for FANS?

Terry McBride thinks not.

And he’s not alone.  He’s got the public on his side.

As for the rest of the wimpy managers and acts…  When will they see that the major labels ARE NOT ON THEIR SIDE!  That they’re in the business of careers, and the more people who possess their music, by acquiring it cheaply via licensed P2P, the better it is FOR THEM?

It appears a hundred year war.

But it’s worth fighting.  For make no mistake, mass distribution of music via the Net, so EVERYBODY is a music consumer, has music on his hard drive, is not only good for music, it’s good for the MUSIC BUSINESS!

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