Indie Labels

Indies Boycott Limewire Party At Digital Music East

image from api.ning.com American Association Of Independent Music (A2IM) President Rich Bengloff is encouraging his members attending this week's Digital Music Forum East to boycott at Limewire sponsored reception on Thursday evening.

"…Services like LimeWire, Myxer and many more that, by the nature of their services, make it too easy for consumers to violate copyright and/or compensate independents in a sub-standard fashion or not at all," Bengloff wrote in an open letter to his members and shared with Hypebot. "LimeStore uses the LimeWire illegal hits to drive traffic to their legal site," he added.

Full text of the letter:

The following e-mail was sent to the 17 A2IM members who, in addition to A2IM President Rich Bengloff, will be on panels at Digital Music Forum East:

To All-

A commerce goal of A2IM is to achieve economic parity for our music label members. We strive for that every day in many ways. The purpose of this e-mail is to discuss economic parity for our associate members, professional service providers which should be rewarded for their support and equitable treatment of our member community.

A2IM associate members like Pandora, to name one, which is by far the #1 webcaster in terms of non-on demand music streams in the U.S. (and not coincidentally, they play the largest percentage of independent music, almost 40%) paid approximately $28 million in sound recording royalties for last year and, via SoundExchange, delivers parity to indie artists and labels.

Conversely, there are services like LimeWire, Myxer and many more that, by the nature of their services, make it too easy for consumers to violate copyright and/or compensate independents in a sub-standard fashion or not at all. Many services promise "promotion" in lieu of compensation (as recorded music sales continue to plummet, in part due to these services). In some cases services may also use the guise of user generated content databases containing our labels' artists' music as an excuse for any infringements. These services know that many of our music label members do not have the time and capital required to monitor the web for infringement nor to take the subsequent legal action.

The above named services, and others, have applied for A2IM associate membership and have been rejected by your A2IM board as these services have a different definition of "respect of copyright" than A2IM. They would use their A2IM membership as a promotional badge to meet and sign-up our A2IM members and others. That could create an unlevel playing field for our associate members that do compensate independents and that would be unfair. Creators of music and the music labels that invest in that creation should be compensated for their music unless the content owner or artist decides, at his or her discretion, to discount or give away that music for a window of time. Should these technology businesses change their business models and services to properly compensate our independent community we would embrace their becoming members of A2IM.

As recently described to us by an A2IM member, LimeStore uses the LimeWire illegal hits to drive traffic to their "legal site". LimeWire will be having a reception this Thursday night as part of Digital Music Forum East ("DMFE"), an excellent conference that we message to our members as a good event to attend to learn and keep updated on the digital world (http://www.digitalmusicforum.com/east/). I will not be attending the LimeWire Thursday night reception as it could appear to be seen as an endorsement of LimeWire by A2IM.

This is a statement of A2IM's policy position and not a recommendation to our members as to what our members should do either individually or collectively. A2IM, as is our policy, is not advocating any group action of any type, Every A2IM member needs to make their HIS OR HER own business decisions, including what parties they HE OR SHE ATTENDS attend and whom they have as business partners, and we embrace that philosophy. That said, I am sharing with you the above A2IM commerce philosophy as background information as you individually decide what you individually will be doing this coming Thursday night. I look forward to seeing you all at DMFE.

Best always,
Rich Bengloff, A2IM

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  1. Exclusive: LimeWire CEO Responds to ‘After-Party’ Controversy…
    http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/stories/022310limewire
    This is one shindig you might not forget. Ahead of the Digital Music Forum in New York, a LimeWire-hosted after-party on Thursday evening is stirring serious controversy, and even drawing a very public ‘will not attend’ from A2IM chief Rich Bengloff.
    Now, LimeWire CEO George Searle is preparing to publish a response to Bengloff and the broader A2IM, one that focuses on licensing, legitimate sales opportunities, and openness to new ideas. LimeWire and Searle agreed to share the response with Digital Music News ahead of its broader publication, scheduled to happen Wednesday morning. “LimeWire is working diligently with labels, publishers and artists to introduce a full range of commercial services that harness, rather than alienate, music fans,” Searle offered.
    The letter attempts to steer away from controversy, and soothe some deeply ruffled feathers. “Our partners have come to share our belief that the challenge of generating revenue in the digital world will require a more thoughtful process as well as a more sensitive, respectful, approach to consumers than has yet been brought to market.”
    Bengloff would beg to differ, largely because LimeWire is a major hub for unauthorized distribution. “Creators of music and the music labels that invest in that creation should be compensated for their music unless the content owner or artist decides, at his or her discretion, to discount or give away that music for a window of time,” Bengloff stated as part of his public retort.
    But Searle pointed to the LimeWire Store, a parallel service that currently offers five million tracks for sale (either through a-la-carte or subscription). In its most literal sense, that commerce attempt is ‘competing with free,’ within the same company, though LimeWire is attempting to transform the behavior of its engaged user base. Sound far-fetched? “One of the most valuable purposes of these conferences is to bring together parties in this space with divergent viewpoints and work together towards resolution of differences,” Searle continued. “For those of you attending [Digital Music Forum East], we look forward to meeting with you personally, sharing our plans and hearing your ideas. We also look forward to your joining us for the party at our offices on Thursday evening.”
    The complete statement follows:
    I wanted to take a few minutes to respond to the letter sent to A2IM members yesterday and make our position and intentions clear.
    LimeWire is working diligently with labels, publishers and artists to introduce a full range of commercial services that harness, rather than alienate, music fans. LimeWire Store currently has over 5 million tracks available for sale a la carte or through a subscription service. Our partners have come to share our belief that the challenge of generating revenue in the digital world will require a more thoughtful process as well as a more sensitive, respectful, approach to consumers than has yet been brought to market.
    True industry success can only be realized when the proper balance is struck among rights holders, service providers and consumers in creating a better-than-ever-before user experience.
    We hope that LimeWire can be a company that embodies that future – one day with the support of the entire music industry. While we haven’t yet created the perfect solution, we are working hard to make the music industry stakeholders in P2P. And we know that solutions will only come from open communication, ongoing dialogue, experimentation and trusted partnerships.
    Toward that end, we’re delighted to be a sponsor of the 10th Annual Digital Music Forum East, and to be able to host its After Party on Thursday, February 25. One of the most valuable purposes of these conferences is to bring together parties in this space with divergent viewpoints and work together towards resolution of differences. For those of you attending DMFE, we look forward to meeting with you personally, sharing our plans and hearing your ideas. We also look forward to your joining us for the party at our offices on Thursday evening.
    George Searle, LimeWire CEO

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