The Battle Over Napster Rages On
Napster Inc. now has more than 20 million users ("Inside Napster," Cover Story, Aug. 14). Patrons have repeatedly stated their willingness to pay for the service they're getting. Twenty million people, each of them paying $10 per month, is $200 million per month, $2.4 billion per year. Doesn't anybody want this money? Is this what "post-capitalism" looks like? People take something for nothing because the owners refuse to sell it to them!
David L. Hagan
Pismo Beach, Calif.
In your formula to combat Napster you missed one very important point: Napster & Co. is screaming that the music industry's pricing model is way out of line with customer expectations. When you can buy a two-hour color digital sound movie that cost $50 million to make for $12, why are music CDs still $17.98? Sony Corp. is pathetic to think that customers will pay $2.49 for a downloaded single.
The music industry needs not only to rethink its methods of distribution but also its pricing model. If the customer thinks that a much-wanted product is greatly overpriced they will either find another way to get it or get a reasonable substitute. That is Marketing 101.
In this day of higher quality for lower prices, maybe an artist needs more than one big hit to become a millionaire, and maybe the music companies need to look at their bloated cost structures. Trying to sell an overpriced product is a loser's game.
Stop using euphemisms like "sharing." Shawn Fanning and his Napster cohorts are nothing but thieves and most definitely are in it for the money they can make by enabling copyright infringements.
The attractive thing about Napster and digital music in general is the ability to pick and choose what you want to hear and customize it for yourself. I have bought many CDs containing 12-plus songs, when I really only wanted two. Now I am in control, and I like it. (I would definitely pay for a service like that!)
I truly believe that if, instead of fighting with Napster, musicians embraced the concept and figured out how everyone can make a fair profit from it, it would be a win-win situation for everyone.
As you concluded in your article, the emotional response to Napster can't be stopped. The companies who figure out how to capitalize on that emotion will be the real winners down the road.