Muxtape: yet another Napster, 7 years on…

This morning I saw, through Russell Davies’ delicious bookmark, that Justin at Muxtape has posted a detailed and frank account of his recent, ultimately unsuccessful negotiations with the major labels and the RIAA.<o:p></o:p>

Quick recap: Muxtape is like an online mix tape you can distribute to all of your friends; you either upload the tracks, or use the ones they already have in the library.

In short, it appears that despite the interest in bringing the site into the legal realms that the marketing and innovation side of the labels were showing, the legal guys (specifically those at the RIAA) waded in with their $400 brogues, making Justin just walk away from the whole process.<o:p>

It’s depressingly like the original Napster case; one site was pioneering a new type of behaviour that people really embraced, and rather than trying to develop that site to be of benefit to the labels (and ergo the artists), the listeners (who’d discover more new music) and Muxtape itself, they closed it down.<o:p></o:p>

As we saw with Napster though, you can shut the site, but when the behaviour is established, other sites spring up to meet that need.  Already there’s OpenTape, which is open source coding allowing everyone to build there own, mini version of Muxtape.

I can’t imagine serving writs to all the thousands of people who use it is going to be particularly cost effective…

With Napster, it was likened to ‘everyone in the world listening to the same radio station’.  If the labels had done the deal to make it legal, offering digital tracks for an acceptable cost to people, then they would have no doubt had a share in an entity that would have sat where iTunes does now.<o:p></o:p>

But they didn’t, they sued, and we know what happened next.<o:p>

So; Muxtape will continue, but in a new form for emerging bands (which could be cool, as you’ll have lots of people filtering out new mix tapes from the morass of new music).<o:p></o:p>

Major labels will continue to slide towards the inevitable path of closing at some point in five years if they continue to act like this…