[FoRK History Lesson] June 1, 1994: First on-line release of full-length entertainment work from a major artist.

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Fri Jun 02 2000 - 17:16:31 PDT

It's been just six years since the June 1, 1994 on-line release of an
Aerosmith song...


Putting this here for the FoRK History Lesson part of this scrapbook...
I was wondering which mainstream act first endorsed the transfer of
music over the Internet (in a day when no one could even conceive of
something like Napster and all the pirates had to steal music in 18
parts on alt.music.binaries.flonk.flonk.flonk and ). Guess we have the
answer: Aerosmith. Life was simpler then: FoRK was still 18 months from
starting up, Netscape was still called Mosaic Communications (does
http://www.mcom.com/ even work anymore?), Adam Curry still owned
mtv.com, the world hadn't yet been forced to suffer through Woodstock II
(let alone Woodstock III), David Filo and Jerry Yang were first leaving
graduate school, and Andrew "Werdna" Tong still had the best pages on
the Web (Google for some reason thinks he still exists at
http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~werdna/ but we know better...).

BTW, von Goeben would later go on to pen the lovely http://www.thevc.com/ ...

> Summary:
> First on-line release of full-length entertainment work from a major
> artist.
> Demonstration of the Utility and Capability of the NII:
> If the purpose of the awards is to spotlight successful examples of use
> of the National Information Infrastructure, encourage new uses, expand
> its role in quality of life and bringing the information highway into
> peoples lives, this entry stands out. Geffens release proved people
> worldwide could easily enjoy full-length, broadcast-quality stereo
> entertainment from a top-selling artist: Aerosmith. This was not an
> impromptu, low-fidelity test from unknown musicians that would otherwise
> go unnoticed. This was not a promotional clip for a song also on sale in
> the store. This was the real thing, so much so that radio stations
> retrieved the song and played it, spreading the word that you can now
> get your music with a modem.
> And it proved another lesson about the information highway:
> Geffen incurred no distribution costs, and no charges were assessed
> users (Compuserve waived all connect fees). The National Information
> Infrastructure holds the potential of fostering a renaissance of
> artistic and creative expression. A wired world can be a world without
> borders, censors, out-of-print and out-of-stock signs. It will encourage
> musicians, writers, moviemakers, speakers, poets to take advantage of
> world-wide exposure as near as a telephone wire or cable connection.
> Theorists discussed this, but someone needed to do it. Many people at
> Compuserve, Geffen and Aerosmith made it happen. These three people at
> Geffen Records were most responsible: Robert von Goeben coordinated
> Geffens work with Compuserve, Luke Wood lined up the talent and legal
> approvals, and Jim Griffin digitized the music, compressed it and built
> Geffens information network. They proved the National Information
> Infrastructure can broadly expand access to arts and entertainment, and
> will give artists new, more efficient ways to reach their audiences.
> They are pioneers and deserve recognition for this historic first.
> Example of Practical Usage of the NII:
> This was a powerful example of practical use of the National Information
> Infrastructure because it proved on-line distribution works, even for
> audio/video content. Well over 10,000 people accessed the file, unknown
> thousands during the week the file was available on Compuserve and many
> more after the song was transferred to Internet sites and bulletin
> boards. The song was easy to play, with Windows users simply
> double-clicking the file name after download; users of other computers
> using common software available free on-line.
> Perhaps most important, it prodded lawmakers and architects of the
> information highway to take legal and technical steps to hold users
> accountable to creators of digital information. This is a prerequisite
> to serious entertainment industry use of the digital infrastructure. It
> also proved the costs of electronic distribution are so low that when
> the accountability problem is resolved electronic delivery will
> dramatically alter the economics of the distribution of arts and
> entertainment.
> The release was well-received by users, critics, radio station
> listeners, music journalists and thousands of fans who continue to seek
> the song.
> Encourages and Motivates Use of the NII:
> Geffen encouraged use of the National Information Infrastructure in four
> ways:
> 1. Most important, the release of Aerosmiths Head First proved the
> concept and moved the debate on holding users accountable to digital
> creators of intellectual property from the mouths of theorists to the
> hands of practitioners who will resolve the legal and technical hurdles
> that must be cleared before creators feel free to embrace electronic
> distribution.
> 2. Use of the NII was encouraged by a blitz of publicity that increased
> use of on-line services and demand for modems and sound boards. The
> Geffen release received front-page coverage in newspapers, full-page
> stories in newsweeklies and prominent mention in the electronic media.
> The song itself was played by radio stations that downloaded it
> themselves and played it for fans.
> 3. When Geffen jumped into cyberspace with a full-length release,
> numerous entertainment companies followed with music and video content.
> The on-line movement amongst entertainment companies will fuel the
> flames of information infrastructure growth.
> 4. Geffens Aerosmith release was not a one-time contribution or token
> effort for publicity. Geffen has been called a model Internet citizen
> for avoiding the temptation to waste the Nets bandwidth with
> Usenet messages or mail. Geffen established an in-house Internet site
> complete with World-Wide Web Server (http://geffen.com), mail, ftp and
> telnet access. Geffen provides Compuserve and Internet users access to
> graphics, sound clips, tour schedules and artist biographies. Geffen
> artists interact with users with on-line messages and conferences.
> Geffen regularly runs contests offering prizes to promote on-line use.
> Geffen employees surf the Internet, Compuserve and other on-line
> services in the course of their work, including the pursuit of new
> talent for the label. During 1994 Geffen built an in-house network
> designed to be a ramp to and from the National Information
> Infrastructure.
> Advice:
> Carefully weigh every step in the presentation of the content and remove
> every obstacle possible -- no matter how small - between you and the user.
> Barriers:
> Greatest barrier: Convince an artist and record label to release a
> valuable song on-line. This was overcome because Aerosmith and Geffen
> sacrificed use of this particular song in return for advancing the
> long-term potential of electronic distribution.
> The second challenge: Present the content in a downloadable, easy-to-use
> format and retain the audio quality of the song. Geffen met this
> challenge by releasing the song in Microsofts ADPCM format. Windows
> users simply double-clicked on the downloaded file, automatically
> activating the sound player. In spite of almost 10 to 1 compression,
> ADPCM retained the high-fidelity elements of the song.
> Contact Information:
> Robin Rothman
> Geffen Records
> Director of Marketing Services
> 9130 Sunset Boulevard
> Los Angeles, California 90069
> EMail: rr@geffen.com
> Phone: 310-285-2738
> FAX: 310-275-6156
> Primary Activity:
> Entertainment
> Verification Method:
> This historic first was recorded on the front page of major newspapers
> and covered prominently in major magazines and news weeklies.


Your .sigs are a special case in reality (although not in the code); they are rarely, if ever, repeated in your next post. Thus they are signal, not noise. -- Kragen Sitaker

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