But Dick Rowes billion-dollar boo-boo has been beaten to the top spot on Blender magazines list of the “20 biggest record company screw-ups of all time” by the failure of record companies to capitalize on the Internet.
The major labels took top dishonors for driving file-sharing service Napster out of business in 2001, instead of figuring out a way to make money from its tens of millions of users. The downloaders merely scattered to hundreds of other sites, and the industry has been in a tailspin ever since.
“The labels campaign to stop their music from being acquired for free across the Internet has been like trying to cork a hurricane — upward of a billion files are swapped every month on peer-to-peer networks,” Blender said in the report, which appears in its newly published April issue.
THE BIGGEST RECORD-COMPANY SCREWUP OF ALL TIME
#1 Major labels squash Napster
Shawn Fanning’s file-sharing service attracted tens of millions of users, but instead of trying to find a way to capitalize on it, the Recording Industry Association of America rejected Napster’s billion-dollar settlement offer and sued it out of existence in 2001. Napster’s users didn’t just disappear. They scattered to hundreds of alternative systems—and new technology has stayed three steps ahead of the music business ever since. The labels’ campaign to stop their music from being acquired for free across the Internet has been like trying to cork a hurricane—upward of a billion files are swapped every month on peer-to-peer networks. Since Napster closed, “there’s been no decline in the rate of online piracy,” says Eric Garland of media analysts BigChampagne, who logged users of son-of-Napster peer-to-peer networks more than doubling between 2002 and 2007. And that figure doubles again if you count BitTorrent.
Unintended consequence Your grandmother deciding to trade up from that dial-up connection