What Does Paul McCartney Have Against Me?

Kurt Nimmo

Let me begin this by stating that I have nothing against Paul McCartney as a musician or a human being. Over the years I have paid a lot of money to McCartney and his old pals and former business partners, the Beatles. I do not regret this because I have spent many hours enjoying their music. The pleasure received was well worth the price of admission.

Yet today I have a difficult time listening to Paul’s music. It has nothing to do with the style or content of his music so much as what he has done in the last few weeks. As you probably know if you follow popular music and the issues swirling about it, McCartney has filed a lawsuit against MP3.com, the online service that distributes free music by mostly unknown artists. Paul says that MP3.com is stealing from him. It has not paid him or his record label for the right to use his music. MP3.com hosts a listening service – if you have bought a CD, such as Paul’s Run Devil Run, and you can prove it, MP3.com will allow you to stream the music over the Internet. Paul McCartney and his lawyer say this is copyright infringement.

I tend to believe that it is not theft – but that’s not the reason I writing this. I am writing this because in the process of suing MP3.com – and maybe running it out of business – Paul McCartney is denying me something. No, he is not denying me the ability to listen to his music over the Internet (since I am interested in a different genre of music than McCartney produces). Instead, Sir Paul McCartney may end up denying me the ability to distribute my own music.

MP3.com distributes my music. It has nothing to do with money – while I have sold a few DAM CDs at MP3.com, the money is negligible – and it has nothing to do with copyright. None of my music is copyrighted. I believe that it should be given away for free. I don’t expect Paul to give away his music. He is entitled to every penny he has made over the long span of years since the Fab Four emerged from Liverpool. Others may be envious of McCartney’s riches – according to Billboard magazine, Paul is currently worth $863,976,000 – but I am not. I simply want him to stop messing with my music.

If Paul’s lawsuit is successful and MP3.com is hit with severe penalties there is a chance it may go out of business. In one fell swoop I would be denied my primary distribution channel. Paul would get what he wants – control over his music – and in the process thousands of lesser-known artists would be denied the ability to distribute their music. It would be an unmitigated disaster for thousands of people – not only the musicians, but also the countless people who visit MP3.com a regular basis to listen to and discover new music.

There is a good chance Paul does not know about this. He may be going on what his lawyers say – people are stealing his music – and he may not know anything about the other services MP3.com offers. On the other hand, he may know and not care. If this is the case, it would not be the first time a rich person trampled over the rights of lessers in order to simply secure his holdings. Since I know so little about Paul McCartney, I cannot say one way or another what his motivations are outside of the obvious claim that people are stealing his music. I just don’t know for sure.

One thing is for sure – Paul McCartney and Metallica and Dr. Dre and all the others who are currently resisting the new modes of music distribution will have to wake up and take a good hard look at the industry that has served them so handsomely over the years. It is changing – for the better – and nothing they do – not lawsuits nor propaganda campaigns – will change or even slow down what is inevitable: on-demand music at lower prices downloaded or streamed over the Internet. Young consumers – the very future the music industry is banking on – demand new and innovative methods of music delivery. The recording industry should accommodate them.

I can only hope that Sir Paul McCartney will realize this. If he does not, chances are he will be in for a lot of frustration and disappointment – if the industry does not kick into high gear and begin offering consumers music in the format they want, chances are they will continue to go online with programs like Napster and take music for free. As we have witnessed, current law and the admonitions of the recording industry will not stop them. Many fans feel they have a right to the music – and they will get it any way they can.

Paul McCartney needs to recognize this.

And not simply because his actions may result in the loss of a distribution channel for myself and thousands of other artists.

In the long run this technology will serve Paul McCartney as well.

He needs to realize this before it is too late.

--Kurt Nimmo


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