August 16, 2004

"Warner's Tryst With Bloggers Hits Sour Note."

And the NYT's seduction of bloggers with headlines hits a sweet note. So let's see what the situation is here. Warner music, which is naturally against free MP3 files on the web, wanted to take advantage of blogs that offer music files along with music criticism. The blogs are popular, presumably based on the quality of the music writing. Irresistible marketing opportunity for the big music company? No one familiar with sites that allow comments should be surprised if industry people are posting anonymously defending their product. Outing these people is an old game, isn't it?

But a Warner employee, Ian Cripps, had a new idea. He emailed music files to some bloggers with the message:
"We are very interested in blogs and I was wondering if you could post this mp3," he wrote. "It's by one of our new bands - The Secret Machines. They are an indie rock band and we would love for people to hear the band's music from your site. Here it is, listen to it and let me know if you will post it. Thanks!!"
Those two exclamation points just beg for love and trust, don't they?
Some bloggers saw the message from Warner as a sign that the major labels might spare their sites while cracking on illegal file sharing.

"We didn't know if there was a wink that came along with it that said, 'We don't have a problem with what you're doing,' " said Mark Willett, a contributor to Music for Robots a popular MP3 blog that attracts about 2,400 visitors a day.
Music for Robots--which uses authorized downloads and links to online stores--looks good. The top post right now, which has a cool Peter Kuper drawing, analyzes four anti-war songs.
In an almost apologetic blog entry titled "Music for Robots Sells Out," Mr. Willett wrote that the song was appearing there not because the band needed the exposure, but to establish a relationship with Warner and to let readers know what was going on.
(Would it kill the Times to link to the post?) Most of the blogs snubbed Warners, though, for the reason implied by Robots' post title.

The Robots' comment section drew some suspicious comments like:
"I never heard these guys before, but theyre awesome ... I went to their website and you can listen to a lot of ther other stuff, very cool and very good!"
And it turns out, it was supremely easy for Willett to trace these commenters back to Warners. Warners makes exactly the excuse you'd think they would make: must just be some fans of the band that happen to work in the company. Blog mockery ensued. How pathetic to fall back on the old anonymous fan comment right when you're trying to do something new and blog-friendly! And to write lame, inarticulate, "awesome!" comments with misspellings is a gratuitous insult to teenage music lovers everywhere.

Digression: Remember when Warner was called "Warner Brothers"? I remember an old Jerry Garcia quote, when he was complaining about big record companies: "There isn't even a Warner brother."

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