Napster co-founder: war on music piracy is a failure

By on October 25, 2010, 10:21 AM
Napster co-founder Sean Parker recently gave his thoughts on the music industry and how he plans to solve its problems at the Daily Beast's Innovators Summit – Reboot America!. "The ultimate answer is you have to accept that the war on piracy is a failure," he said, estimating that 4 to 10 trillion songs have been illegally downloaded versus 4 billion legally.

Speaking of his friends, he said, "They use pirate services because they're more convenient. The TV industry has provided an adequate response [to the digital revolution.] It's an industry in transition but it’s an industry that's doing it in a way that's more civil." Parker believes that people are willing to pay for convenience and accessibility in TV. He's more focused on the music industry but he believes the same rules apply. You can watch him speak in the video below (via The Daily Beast):

Parker's solution is Spotify, a DRM-based music service that allows unlimited streaming of content from a multitude of major and independent record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal. The desktop application also allows you to import music from either iTunes or directly from local files. Spotify provides an unlimited platform for streaming on the desktop, but the client holds all its music files locked with the program so you can't move it to your mp3 player (but Spotify apps are available): it's unlimited streaming within a closed environment.

Parker invested $14.86 million in Spotify last August, giving him five percent ownership of the service. Napster may have gone bankrupt, but it will still be remembered as the revolution focused on bringing the music industry into the Internet age. Parker wants to finish what he started. He says that with Spotify, users get addicted to the custom library of music they build for themselves. "You have no choice," he says bluntly. "We've got you by the balls, you'll have to become a subscriber."

The company has 10 million users in Europe, and more than half a million paying subscribers. The service has yet to launch in the US, but Parker today said he expects an "end of year launch for Spotify."





User Comments: 54

Got something to say? Post a comment
jjbeard926 said:

As hard as it is to believe, there are still people that (at least claim) to not know anything about the legality of pirating copyrighted materials. I talk to them all the time.

Of course then there are also the folks that have never heard of file sharing, P2P, torrents, etc. and somehow have never heard anything about these cases in the news. How could they have missed the Napster cases? The Pirate Bay case? Oh, right, not everyone is a geek and reads tech news. Got it. . .

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

What an ass. "It's OK to pirate unless you're using my Spotify program." Which coincidentally has as heavy-handed DRM as anything out there.

Typical pirate mentality.

dustin_ds3000 dustin_ds3000, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I haven't heard anything about Napster in a long time. Spotify is not the answer to music piracy. I want to buy DRM free MP3's or even flac files. I want to be able to put that music anywhere i want at anytime.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Dupe post.

Cueto_99 said:

Never heard before of spotify, but, the way he puts it, I don't think I'll heard from it again...

Guest said:

"You have no choice," "We've got you by the balls, you'll have to become a subscriber."

Uhm, no... The consumer has the industry by the balls, and if you want to win them over you have to offer them an as convenient and good value service as you possibly can. Blabbering about your service is going to screw the consumer over and force them to pay is the same sort of arrogance and complacency that led to the downfall of the traditional music industry.

gandolf1974 said:

"the client holds all its music files locked with the program so you can't move it to your mp3 player"

Umm HELLO RETARD, that is the reason people pirate music. Its so they can put it on their mp3 players!!

citac said:

Man if only they realised the average person would buy music if you didnt have to use stupid specific software like Itunes all the time zzz i stoped using Iphone aswell because of Itunes, also Sean Parker is a douche.

bioflex said:

well u couldn't have said it better.

treeski treeski said:

Wow this guy isn't coming across right at all haha.

Convenience IS a big part of it, but it's hardly everything. The only time I pay for music is when it's from an artist that I am very comfortable with and if it's an artist that regularly produces albums where I like all (or most) of the tracks.

The only subscription service I might be willing to subscribe to someday is Zune's... since you're basically paying for one CD every month, getting unlimited access to as much music as you want, and you get to keep 10 tracks each month.

Guest said:

The war on music pirating is like the war on drugs, you just can't win

Xero07 said:

There are a lot of legal unlimited music services that allow you to transfer songs to your mp3 already for a monthly fee. why subscribe to something that is more limited but you still pay for? Hes right about convenience but what he proposes is far less convenient.

trparky said:

Got news for you dude, there are services that do just that. Amazon's MP3 Music Store along with Napster both sell no-DRM MP3 at some very good high bitrates.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Ultimately, music should be free. Of course, many people would bash this comment... but when I play my guitar for my friends, I dont charge them $1.99 for 3 minutes after I finish playing a song I wrote for them. I'd be more then flattered if they made copies and distributed it around to their friends as well. If people like me enough, I'd accept donation. Maybe this is why I appreciate Radiohead so much.

Anyways, this guys idea doesnt sound like it will solve anything. Almost sounds more complicated than iTunes, and I already thought Apple "had you by the balls."

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

And the moral of this story is:

Sean Parker is a douchebag.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You can still rip any stream coming into your computer anyway. Just like I pressed record on my tape player when a song I liked came on the radio. But hoards of MP3s are a relic of 1995-2005. Right now you can go on YouTube and watch the video of just about any song that you want. Over and over again. It was cool to have 50,000 songs, but as most people have pointed out, our access to media (or information for that matter) has far outstripped our ability to process it.

kaonis92 said:

I think people are getting sick of DRM (even Apple realized that with iTunes!). The future of his service seems uncertain since the restrictions will be more than the benefits.

sMILEY4ever said:

Understatement of the day because piracy isn't going away, at least not in the forseable future, it would be too hard/expensive and there are way too many pirates.

Guest said:

Sadly, having watched the video he does appear to be a douchebag. However, as a UK user I have to say that Spotify is actually a pretty good. I use it at work and it has a decent catalog and is a polished piece of software (pandora is banned in the UK but we can access grooveshark, last.fm etc which are no where near as easy to use). I've only used the free version but have friends with android phones and the paid version (about $15 dollars a month) and they swear by it so maybe he's not totally wrong.

AbsolutGaloot said:

I'm very sad that the industries haven't learned that this is just like what happened with the tape recorder, CD, and VCR. Change in format doesn't mean death of the art, it just means that the current business model needs to change instead of trying to squeeze the last few pennies out of the outdated model.

UT66 said:

He looks like Krusty the clown

the way he is holding that microphone... not good.

piracy? pff, music sucks this days, ill stick to Chopin

tonylukac said:

I am a legal Napster user and they recently informed me that their drmed tracks will no longer be supported. They never gave you the option to download drm free mp3s for these tracks either; you have to burn the wma files to cds, 15 at a time, and rerip them to transfer them to a new computer, losing sound quality to boot. What if I had 1000 of them, would it take a year to convert them? I sure see why piracy took off.

LightHeart said:

I was on Napster and had to do the same thing, though I used another program to convert them to MP3 so I would not have to worry about it in the future. Now I mainly use Amazon.com to get MP3 files, it's quick and easy.

jjbeard926 said:

Guest said:

The war on music pirating is like the war on drugs, you just can't win

Very true. People will make, find, buy or steal it if they want it bad enough. Period. No laws, regulations or fences can stop that. We seek out what we want and we will do it forever.

So (not to date myself here) is this like the movie war games? The only way to win is not to play?

Ay Jay said:

Take a look at Pandora, It's not doing bad at all, why? He's got a point, its convenient, its easy, its fast and easily accessible.Sure there's ads but those help generate revenue for themselves, site upkeep, and the artists. People obviously pay the 36 dollars for the yearly subcription to Pandora, people do the same thing for Netflix. Take those same concepts + completely customized playlists (unlike Pandora) and you've got yourself a hit.

arod916 said:

The only way to stop it would be to embed some sort of non audible signature into the original recordings wavefile. They could then possibly be detected by scanning the files, kind of like an xray over the web. Then any copies would also contain that signature including any rips, recorded streams, or others. Not sure if you could catch files composed of rars though. It just might be impossible to stop, unless artists start creating albums worth purchasing, where over 75% of the music is listenable. Mainstream pay to play radio stations, and tv have mostly killed the days of genuine artists that make music that they themselves actually love.

StrctClubBouncr said:

The whole war is stupid.

So if you walk into a store and steal an album and get caught, you get a small punishment including paying the $15 for the album. But if you steal it online and get caught, you get a $1 million dollar lawsuit. Makes perfect sense.

princeton princeton said:

lawfer said:

And the moral of this story is:

Sean Parker is a douchebag.

Lol. Your comments made me laugh 5 minutes ago. I like you, keep it up!

posermobile89 said:

It sounds good, but piracy (not approving it) is more convenient. You get unlimited songs for free, with no DRM. You dont need to worry about apps or using a different program to play your music, its just ultimately free and more convenient.

DarKSeeD DarKSeeD said:

...and this is the first time I've heard of Spotify. I still like to hear my vinyls, tapes...call me old fashion. More and more "artists" are using computers to create music or at least they think so.

Guest said:

I've never heard Sean Parker speak, but I'm astonished at how naive his ideas are.

"You get that song stuck in your head...that's the hook"

You think people are going to subscribe to your service because they've got a song stuck in their head and they want it on their mp3 player? That's ridiculous. One commenter already pointed out that DRM restrictions are *precisely why* people avoid these services.

This also a great example of a terrible placement of profanity in a presentation.

"we've got you by the balls".

Dropping an f-bomb (or a balls-bomb) in a presentation is an art-form. You want to add an edge that excites people by leading them into the risque. NOT alienates them! Sean, you're talking to your CUSTOMERS for f*^k sakes!?! ;)

You do not now, nor will you EVER, have me by the balls.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

Sean Parker said:

"the client holds all its music files locked with the program so you can't move it to your mp3 player"

There are, as with most things, annotations describing the basis of a professional trickster. Also "a code", FYI. However; the following which is written have I amusingly enough copied and translated directly from "The Guide of a Conman" by Jaroslav Kriz (1849) Quoting;

Annotation 2: Everything you can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste, is copiable." (-)

Even if it's jammed tight to your desktop. There is always a way... and there always will be.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As long as DRM exist piracy will exist, as long as media worth paying for exist piracy will exist, as long as media exist piracy will exist.... See where Im going with this? Technicaly if I buy a CD, which I payed for legaly, go to a friends house and it gets ripped onto a computer that doesn't belong to me it has been pirated. Now that everyone has an internet connection, its just easier, I no longer have to go to that friends house, I can just send it to him via a number of file transfer services, some of which are virtualy untracable. If they can stop that from happening I would be blown away.

grimm808 said:

"No choice, we got you by the balls" ? Haha, you don't have me on anything you arrogant $h!t stain. I wouldn't pay for your stupid music service. Go get a room with yourself.

grimm808 said:

"No choice, we got you by the balls" ? Haha, you don't have me on anything you arrogant $h!t stain. I wouldn't pay for your stupid music service. Go get a room with yourself.

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

It's sort of like going to buy a car, and then finding out you're only allowed to drive the car on certain roads the car dealer deems appropriate.

I like to be honest and fair and pay for what I use. But only if I am buying from an honest and fair company.

IAMTHESTIG said:

This is an interesting idea but I don't think it will have that big of an effect... I still see tons of people say if it has DRM, then screw it. I kind of agree with that, as I want to be able to do whatever I want with the music I pay for. The customer not only wants convenience but they want flexibility, and this service sounds like it will limit flexibility unless you spend more money.

Now if this application is completely web based, so you can access your music while at work, and on the go via a plugins or small apps for phones, then I can definitely see some people getting addicted to the convenience of this service. But if it is restricted to one computer will internet access... and then (from what it sounds like) have to pay to download a DRM protected mp3 to save it to an iPod or whatever, then I don't see the appeal.

On a similar note regarding mp3s in general... no matter what, I still feel music is too expensive and DRM is pissing everyone off. I know 99 cents isn't a lot for a song but you put 10 of those and you've nearly have the price of an album on CD. The prices seem to be a bit better then they used to be but still too much I think. 29 cents for a song, 39 for a popular/new one. $2-3 for a full album.

With these prices and DRM-less mp3 downloads, plus with sufficient TV/radio/internet advertising, I bet you could double your legal mp3 sales. I personally buy some of my mp3s off amazon because they are DRM-less, and I love it. Sure I share them with personal friends sometimes, transfer them between my personal devices... but they still got some money. You are never going to completely stop piracy, so prices need to be very competitive while access and use need to be easy. At this rate $1 for a song is too much for me and I only spend it if I really like that artists music... but if they were 29 or 39 cents each, i'd be buying a hell of a lot more music online.

TechDisciple said:

I couldn't agree more with the title. Then again i could post my thoughts on the subject but pretty much everything has been said.

VitaminC said:

I have nothing against these companies hunting down pirates that mass re-produce their stuff and sell it to make a profit. Go for it.

But attacking people for doing the same thing they used to do with tapes, just because it's much easier to do than when it was done with tapes...is just plain shallow if you make absolutely no effort to embrace the new medium.

jetkami said:

I bought cassette tape,records,cd's and dvd's and that is where i stop. I miss the days of standing in a record shop for hours discussing new bands with some cute babe that works at the store.

hassaan said:

Has anyone ever used spotify. I've heard that only current users can invite other users.

f111 said:

Its just another company to try impose DRM, just to find it alienates people. Besides why would you pay when you can listen to music (legally) for free on the internet, at least for the moment.

xanthic42 said:

"We've got you by the balls"

Staying as far away as possible from anyone with a "service" that has that type of attitude.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

gwailo247 said:

...Right now you can go on YouTube and watch the video of just about any song that you want. Over and over again.... /quote]

Youtube still has the problem with quality. There is only a miniscule amount of songs on there that could pass as anywhere near 128kbps on mid-range speakers.

And that's a pretty low bitrate in itself.

grumpiman said:

st1ckm4n said:

gwailo247 said:

...Right now you can go on YouTube and watch the video of just about any song that you want. Over and over again.... /quote]

Youtube still has the problem with quality. There is only a miniscule amount of songs on there that could pass as anywhere near 128kbps on mid-range speakers.

And that's a pretty low bitrate in itself.

...yeah but you can pretty much see where it's going. I'm betting YouTube is more likely to still be around in a few years than Spotify.

ucould2 ucould2 said:

jetkami said:

I bought cassette tape,records,cd's and dvd's and that is where i stop. I miss the days of standing in a record shop for hours discussing new bands with some cute babe that works at the store.

I agree this is what has happened to me too when I was no longer able to copy a CD onto a mini-disc due to the DRM of the compilation I pretty much stopped buying new Music.

the cute babes though now play the music

Zoner1501 Zoner1501 said:

DRM is the plague of the music industry, I'm surprised it has so many ppl in Europe are subscribed to this service

frodough said:

so Spotify = Netflix for music. what a bright new idea! who knows maybe they will sent cd albums out for rent too???

uttaradhaka said:

Its time the music industry realized that they can't sustain the industry the way they are trying to now. They have to change their approach or face dire consequences.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.