Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

An Open Letter to the Big Music Labels: Pipe Up, Please!

Dear music business,

How are you?

Okay, okay–bad question. I know.

What I meant to say is–why so quiet?

Since Amazon launched its cloud-based music service on Tuesday morning, you guys have barely said a peep.

To date, the only on-the-record comments I’ve seen are from a Sony PR rep, who expressed disappointment that Amazon didn’t get licenses from you in advance, and from Sony/ATV publishing head Martin Bandier, who said Amazon was “really disrespectful.”

Off the record, you guys are more vocal. You tell me that even though Amazon has said it doesn’t need a license for its service, it’s now talking about getting one from you anyway. And that some of you are considering legal options.

But what options do you have? As The Wall Street Journal’s Ethan Smith notes, Amazon’s service appears to be modeled on Cablevision’s cloud-based DVR system, which the Supreme Court blessed in 2009.

And lawyers aside, it’s hard for most people to understand what your beef is: If Amazon wants to let me store my music in the cloud and listen to it whenever I want, what’s wrong with that?

So here’s an open invitation: Does anyone want to explain, on the record, what Amazon has done wrong? Beyond being a bit rude, that is.

I’ve already asked all four of the big labels–Sony, Warner Music Group, EMI and Universal–to sound off, and so far I haven’t gotten a response. So I figured I’d ask again here, just to make sure my request didn’t get lost in the mail.

And to be clear: I’m easy. We can talk in person or on the phone. Frankly, at this point I’d take an email. Just something staking out your position, on the record. I’ve got unlimited space here on the Web. So you can go on as long as you’d like.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Thanks and regards, pk


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus