Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: What if the major record labels had bought Napster?

The result of legal war waged by the major labels on the original Napster in the early part of this century is well-known.  Napster was sued out of existence.  But did you know that even as the court case was in progress, several high-level record company executives were talking about buying Napster? 

There was a big meeting on July 15, 2000, where they–and by that I mean Universal, Sony, and BMG along with some venture capitalists–seriously discussed making a deal with Napster that was worth hundreds of millions or (according to one story) as much as $2 billion).  But they couldn’t agree on how to split Napster’s future value. Napster wanted it to be a 50-50 split.  The labels wanted 90-10.  When they couldn’t reach a deal on that, negotiations fell apart. 

Can you imagine how different music might be today had they made that deal?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38138 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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