Saturday, October 4, 2008


A few months ago, one of our summer legal interns, Jenny, and I were talking about interesting, fun, law-student-worthy projects she could do. At the time, a friend had sent me a link to yet another fabulous mix that was distributed illegally. That got me thinking and I posed the following problem to Jenny: how do I legally post a streaming mix "tape" to this blog that includes any song I want?

Jenny very diligently started researching and took all our ideas of websites that exist in some quasi-legal realm and started piecing the whole thing together. She quickly ran into all sorts of legal bogs and the post is still in mothballs.

Anyway, I thought of it the other day when I saw that muxtape was planning a revival as a completely different service from the online mixtape service it started as. Muxtape's founder Justin Ouellette writes eloquently about his experiences with the four major label groups and the RIAA when he was trying to negotiate a licensing agreement that might have kept Muxtape alive in its former form.

Muxtape is only the latest instance of the mainstream music industry biting the hand that feeds it by refusing to embrace and enable the new and then laying blame when those services are popular. They seem to enjoy crying poor. And now that venture capital is getting harder to come by, there will be fewer services for major labels to try to squeeze for cash. Digital Music News takes a good look at the possible venture capital lessons learned from muxtape as well.

So, inevitable new, cool illegal services + industry reluctant to work with emerging tech = more music available to music fans but less money getting back to the artist and the record company. After a while, artists realize the majors aren't helping their careers and they find more visionary people to help them build music careers. If history is any guide, the major four will hold progressively tighter to their declining revenues and be less likely to work with emerging tech...

Around the merry-go-round they'd think they'd recognize the view after seeing it a few times?


Casey said...

Awesome post. Can we just use this one on the blog? Maybe I'll excerpt and link on my own site. . .

Shane Taylor said...

Yves Smith over at adds:

"A friend who ran a successful VC firm (as in founded it and went successfully through two funds, seven years apart) is leaving the industry because he has concluded it adds no value. He argued that not only are the superior results concentrated in a few funds (the famous usual suspects) even their returns were the result of a very very few deals. Thus the profile of the industry is that the total industry returns are dependent on a few deals that return 50 to 100 to one. And he further argued that with the industry about to slip past the dot-com era in counting ten-year returns, that the returns were about to start to look awful and funding allocations by pension fund consultants would skew away from the industry."