Rolling Stone Offers 'A Big Fat Thanks' To The RIAA For Screwing Up Music Online [Updated]

from the nice-work dept

Hypebot points us to the news that in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, the magazine supposedly (can anyone confirm that this is real? — Update: thanks to commenters who pointed out that this is real… but it’s from 2002) has a nice ‘big fat thanks to record execs’ for pretty much screwing up their chance to embrace the way music is being shared and exchanged online:

If you don’t have images turned on, here’s the text:

A big fat thanks to record execs

Thank you for fighting the good fight against Internet MP3 file-swapping. Because of you, millions of kids will stop wasting time listening to new music and seeking out new bands. No more spreading the word to complete strangers about your artists. No more harmful exposure to thousands of bands via Internet radio either. With any luck they won’t talk about music at all. You probably knew you’d make millions by embracing the technology. After all, the kids swapping were like ten times more likely to buy CD’s, making your cause all the more admirable. It must have cost a bundle in future revenue, but don’t worry — computer are just a fad anyway, and the Internet is just plain stupid.

Rolling Stone

Of course, it’s probably worth pointing out that Rolling Stone isn’t exactly known for embracing the internet, either — recently letting a bunch of other publications get the first mover traffic on its story that resulted in a shakeup in the military chain of command. Still, assuming this ad is accurate, it’s only taken the industry’s leading magazine, what, a dozen years to catch up with what many music fans have been saying since Napster came on the scene. Update: Well, now that it turns out this is from 2002, we can give Rolling Stone at least some props for figuring this out earlier — but note that the RIAA execs absolutely did not listen. 2003 was when they ramped up their legal campaign against file sharers directly.

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Comments on “Rolling Stone Offers 'A Big Fat Thanks' To The RIAA For Screwing Up Music Online [Updated]”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: too little too late

And that’s really the point, isn’t it? The problem isn’t that they stomped their feet and said, “filesharing bad!”, it’s that they offered no legitimate alternative that made their customers happy.

Even for appearances sake, you don’t aim at what people want to do and just start blasting away, you have to give the another avenue that makes sense for them.

….the recording industry chose not to do that. Now even the music press is starting to turn on them….

Danny (profile) says:

Re: too little too late

I hadn’t thought about it, but I rarely buy music either. I got back into music a while ago when I had Limewire installed. But I pulled it down about three years ago due to all the threats out there.

Since that time, I watch/listen a bit on YouTube, but that and my radio listening is mostly very old stuff. There are so many other things competing for my attention I hadn’t even noticed.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“if they bought cd’s to begin with, illegal downloading wouldn’t be a problem, would it?”

But take away illegal downloading and you stand to lose some of the CD sales. The key question in all of this is which is greater: lost sales due to filesharing or gained sales due to filesharing.

Unless the former is substantially larger than the latter, the recording industry should probably just STFU….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Lost “potential” sales. I rarely buy a full CD for a band when I only like 1 or 2 songs. But if the band is new and struggling, I’ll buy legal copies of the song in mp3 format from one of many providers.

I spend a couple thousand dollars a year going to concerts. The artists make more from my butt in a seat (ticket percentage, concessions percentage, merchandise) than they do me buying a CD. For the same price as a CD, I can get a lawn seat and see them live. They make more money. It’s win/win.

Shame they don’t realize that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Why you contradict yourself in 2 lines?

If no one can prove that filesharing do any real harm how can you say in the end it is a problem?

“Pirates” didn’t exist before? what was that thing radios did announcing to everyone they would play 1 hour of songs without commercials?

Filesharing in one way or another was always there you just didn’t know the scale of it.


Re: Re: The illusion of infinite demand.

Some of us were format shifting and making mix tapes in the 70s. Home stereo equipment was specifically setup to enable this sort of thing and make it pretty easy.

The Internet didn’t make piracy any worse, it just made it more visible. It created a false notion of demand for works at zero cost. It’s a giant mirage for the content creation industries. They see what “infinite demand” looks like and get all sorts of wrongful self-serving ideas.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re: Re:

“People stopped buying CDs for other reasons.”

Exactly. Filesharing was a symptom of a much larger disease: consumer unrest. Filesharing exposed just how bad the market was for CDs at the turn of the millennium, and the record companies didn’t see the writing on the wall until half-a-decade after Napster fell.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

File sharing is not a symptom or any part of a disease(the cure, maybe). Even if consumers had been creaming their pants over the CD business, it is merely the evolution of technology that allowed us to do things that were never before possible.

How anybody can see it as a bad thing for society is amazing. Ultimately, revenue, employment, business models, etc. are inherently irrelevant – just a means to providing consumers with what they want, which file sharing does amazingly well.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They stopped buying for several reasons.

1) MP3s don’t wear out and you dont need to buy them again.
2) People bought Albums for the songs they liked and when given the chance they skipped the album for the single(s).
3) There was no place to buy MP3s so they ripped and shared, or downloaded. The downloading trained an entire generation to download. That in turn has gone multi generational.

Trails (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just to add to your points.

Digital distribution (legit or otherwise) is inherently easier for the consumer and simpler from a holistic perspective.

CD’s have to get manufactured, packaged, distributed to retail locations which have to pay rent, where staff have to man registers, sweep floors, stock shelves, do accounting, etc… All those manufacturers, packagers, truck drivers, janitors, stock boys and girls, sales clerks, security guards, etc… all have to get paid, insured, etc…

iTunes, a legit practice, is successful in spite of “piracy” because it’s easy for consumers, and keeps it price down (vis-à-vis cds) by having much reduced costs. You go online, browse around, listen to samples, and then click a button or two, and bingo you have the song.

Much easier than go to a store, hunt shelves which are often miscategorized, not stocked, etc…, find something that looks interesting, stand in line, pay, and go home with your cd. Hope you like it, no refunds, tough shit that you didn’t get to sample before you bought.


Re: Re: Re:2 iTunes is really retro

Digital media is more about how the RIAA tried to kill off the single and failed. iTunes is the 45rpm single reborn. The RIAA tried to artificially distort the market and the market resisted.

There are no more artificial format changes for the RIAA to use as a cash cow. They can’t force people to re-purchase hundreds of recordings.

They also can’t force people to spend $18.00 for that one good song on an album. The consumer can spend $1 for the single instead and keep that forever.

I have ebooks that are 16 years old and music files that are almost as old.

interval (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Disagree. That is, I. There’s always a market for music, no matter how bad. The “industry” has suffered from waves of stifled creativity throughout the centuries. Is anyone old enough to remember when Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” came out? Well, I do, and I remember the discussions and crazy-assed arguments that this single album was going to save music because it was so great or some sh*t like that. It was a good album, don’t get me wrong; but the point is there was a feeling in the late 70’s that really creative music was not exactly amplee. The same thing happened in the late 80’s, the mood in the industry was rather gloomy, then Nirvana hit and the whole grunge thing re-invigorated the scene, at least for a time. Maybe we’re in similar slump currently.

Patrik (user link) says:

Re: Well Duh..

I don’t know about that… when I hear all this talk about music “going back to its roots” I get very scared; especially as a musician. Before music was ‘set free’ by the recording process, most of what you had was inherently unoriginal folk music and church spirituals. Now, I know this is just an opinion, but I don’t like folk music, and I REALLY don’t like church. I don’t want music to be some collective ‘spiritual’ gathering with clapping hands and facepaint and “Everyone participates!” I want intelligent, thought-out music that excites my brain, that *can’t* be participatory because it’s just too new for everyone to be on top of. Something that can be enjoyed with a frosty pint and a good cigar from a comfy chair. Music in the old days progressed at a glacial pace. I don’t want that. There should be the largest VARIETY of music being made, not a simple count of album quantity. I really don’t care how many shitty R&B inflected albums have been recorded on cracked warez and put out by “producahs” from

I want ART in the song, not pandering. “Live” is very restrictive compared to what can be accomplished through a recording. Connections are much more profound when they can be made one to one; ie laying in bed listening to your favorite artist. I don’t go in for groupthink, people singing along to songs I want records, I want the music to be “mine,” so I can listen to it whenever and wherever I want to. I don’t know why people suspect that musicians will just continue going through the PAIN and arduous process of recording if there’s no market for recordings. Mistakes breeze right by at a live show, but a recording must be perfect (or at least reasonably so). Bands don’t break up on tour *nearly* as often as they break up in the studio. Recording is a hellacious process.

icepick314 says:

and I thought Rolling Stone the BAND did the letter was going “HUH? When did they turned to good guys instead of money hungry whores who’s stance on music is about more money rather than fans?”

then it’s from the editors of Rolling Stones the MAGAZINE and thought “YAY!! ABOUT TIME a large publication standing up to RIAA douchebaggery!!”

Kurata says:

Personally speaking, I do download music myself, and this for various reasons.

My first reason is, if I don’t know what it’s in the CD, and I don’t like it, why should I risk wasting money?

Second reason is, I’m very song specific, as such, I wont buy an album since I know I will only like a song or two. (Exceptions exist, of course)

Third reason, availability/price. i’m not feeling like paying 10/20euros for a CD that is, after all, a single play and then recorded over and over on CDs. I can download to have a writeover. But if it’s not available or only available abroad, I’m not going to bother paying 20euros + 40euros of shipping or something, just for a CD.

Now, don’t take me wrong, I do buy CD. Only of bands that I really enjoy. As a matter of fact, I don’t even really listen to big bands, mainly Indies or unknown groups for western people. But if it wasn’t for Internet, I would never have heard of them and thus would never have bought their CD, let alone promote it to friends who ended up liking these bands too and buying their new releases.

Zombie Doc says:

LOL Rolling Stone Mag

As Gene Simmons once said who cares what a bunch of old hippies think? The fact is they are 10 year behind the curve. Now I think the RIAA and the major labels will be 20 or 25 years behind before they realize the giant mistakes they’ve made, that is if they are still in business. The music industry is doing well, there are plenty of independent labels, band and music doing quite well. Services, like E-music make it great to find music you’d most likely never hear by great bands and they pay the label directly. Of course the labels cut is .33 Cents per track.

Personally I have only bought two CDs in the past 10 years NEW. They were by two of my favorite bands and I just couldn’t wait for them to turn up used somewhere nor did I want to get them via iTunes. So for me it is used CDs which the RIAA sees not a dime. All in all I really wish I could just mail .50 cents to the artists for ever 10 songs I download. In the long run it is much more than they see from their contracts in most cases.

Bottom line is this we all enjoy music some more than others for me it is not just the sound track of my life it is a part of the story so intertwined that they cannot be seperated. For me there is no life without music. To me a good song is a good song reguardless of who preforms the song or what type of music it is.

Now I do get irked when people say oh I’ll just download it off of whatever torrent, because the artist sees nothing and I believe they should get paid. Most people don’t realize major label artists have to pay off advances which are loans, and many independent artists make little money or self finance their recordings. So I do not like the trendy go get it for free attitude most people have. But there isn’t too many legal sources. I have found Amazon’s MP3 store to be quite good with quite good pricing and a great selection. E-music is really good as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is fake. RS doesn’t have the vision, not even 10 years late, nor the cojones to say anything remotely similar to the big fat rulers of the world.

In the immortalised words of The Pirate Bay – EPIC FAIL.

Having said that, it would have been very amusing to see how such a war of words would develop between RS and the one percent.

Patrik (user link) says:

Re: Re:

That should be “100 customers and 100,000 LISTENERS.” This whole “fan” BS has to stop. If it’s going to be about brand power in the new age, then let’s call them what they are: if they listen but don’t pay for anything, they are not “fans” but “listeners.” This is how a radio station works. If you’re going to sell yourself as a brand, the amount of people LISTENING is what counts to the people you will sell that listener-ship to. What those people actually think of you will be immaterial.

Your actual “fans” ARE the 100 customers. Plain and simple.


Re: Re: Re: Half full or half empty...

There are varying degrees to fandom. Your “listeners” are on the outer fringes of fandom. They have some interest in you but perhaps not enough to pay for anything. Although they represent some future potential. They are good leads. They can be turned into more serious fans.

Those mere listeners help you from being completely obscure and having no hope of having a suitable critical mass of “real” fans.

camden says:


This is BS, as far as I’m concerned and knew people who download music on the internet bought more album than those who didn’t, because when I stumble on something good, I don’t just put it in my iPod, I bought the CD to listen to it when I’m driving and to show off by putting it on my shelf, and if my level of appreciation of that certain album are big, I might actually bought it on Vinyl, of course I don’t just keep the band to myself, I tell my friends about the band, and out of luck maybe they like them and buy the album and go to that band concert, it as simple as that, if it’s good it’s going to stay and I’m going to pay for it, and please enough with all those rubbish music, so much for top 40, only like 4 or 5 are at least good.

Anonymous Coward says:

All they have to do is...

Put their entire back catalog of music on sale for .10 a track, and make new releases priced at no more than .25 a track. They would sell a metric ton of MP3’s then. This BS of pricing tracks at .99 each is pure BS. If a physical CD retails for $9.99 with all of its inherent costs, then a pure digital track should be no more than .10, period. No drm. The record companies have been ripping off consumers for so long, and pushing crappy music that they have killed their own business. Give the consumer value for their money. Reduce prices, provide valuable add-ons for buying legitimate, such as videos, pictures, lyrics, etc, and then, they would have a product than can compete with free.

herodotus (profile) says:

“I want ART in the song, not pandering.”

I can certainly understand this.

“‘Live’ is very restrictive compared to what can be accomplished through a recording.”

Yes and no. It depends on how many musicians that you can get together.

“Connections are much more profound when they can be made one to one; ie laying in bed listening to your favorite artist. I don’t go in for groupthink, people singing along to songs I want records, I want the music to be “mine,” so I can listen to it whenever and wherever I want to.”

I understand entirely.

“I don’t know why people suspect that musicians will just continue going through the PAIN and arduous process of recording if there’s no market for recordings.”

Because they are musicians, and recordings are the permanent medium of musical expression in our time.

Because they like to hear the recording when they are done (this is my principle motivation).

Because they like doing it all themselves, and that’s difficult to do in a live setting.

“Mistakes breeze right by at a live show, but a recording must be perfect (or at least reasonably so). Bands don’t break up on tour *nearly* as often as they break up in the studio. Recording is a hellacious process.”

Bands break up because of a thousand reasons, most of them stemming from behavioral issues. These issues are simply more acute within the confines of a studio setting.

But recording is certainly no more difficult than writing an orchestral score. And the recording process yields an artifact of immediate gratification, whereas a score, even when finished and printed, yields nothing. A performance must still take place for music to happen: a performance involving great difficulty and expense.

And yet composers like Mahler and Bruckner still wrote these immense scores for 500 musicians, singers and soloists; knowing full well that neither sales of the score (actually, the bigger scores were usually rented in those days) nor the ticket sales for the resulting performances would come close to paying for the time and effort involved.

I wonder why they went through all of this effort to lose money?

Or why composers like Varese or Webern or Ives or Ruggles bothered writing their scores that were often never performed at all?

Or what got projects like the San Francisco Tape Music Center going when no one was earning a dime off of it?

I wonder, in fact, why the Island of Bali is filled with all manner of musicians who rehearse rigorously and regularly when the only possible ‘reward’ is the pride of having the best gamelan in the region.

Maybe it’s because real musicians make music because they want to. And whether it involves the challenge of writing a score, rehearsing an ensemble, or making a recording, they will get it done because that is what fulfills their needs.

In the 70’s this might not have been as true, because making a recording involved really expensive equipment that most musicians just didn’t have. Today, this is simply no longer the case.

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