TAG’s Ted Cohen quoted in NPR’s “All Tech Considered”

What Today’s Online Sharing Companies Can Learn From Napster

All Tech Considered, NPR.org
November 11, 2013

Perhaps no company showed how the Internet could turn sharing into a global phenomenon more than Napster. At its peak in 2000, tens of millions of people around the world used the service to trade music files. But it was never able to turn all that sharing into a profitable business.

In today’s Internet sharing economy, the story of Napster holds some valuable lessons.

At the time, Ted Cohen was working as a consultant for record labels and Napster. Napster had attracted investment money, and Cohen says Napster was convinced that it could change copyright law using what it called “the congressman’s daughter strategy.”

“If the congressman’s daughter was using Napster and she showed it to her dad, and she then downloaded some Frank Sinatra music for him,” Cohen says, “he’d go, ‘This is amazing. Copyright law is out of date. We have to change it.’ “

Even though the experience of sharing music was incredibly powerful, the congressman’s daughter strategy failed. In July 2001, Napster shut down after a battle in court, and it declared bankruptcy the following year. Other companies tried and failed to make file sharing work legally.

Over a decade later, the old record labels are finally relenting and working to create legal music services like Spotify, Rdio and iRadio.

Other businesses in the sharing economy have also looked back at Napster for lessons. Nathan Blecharczyk, chief technology officer of Airbnb, which lets people rent out their homes to travelers, says his takeaway is that it’s important to work with established businesses — in his case, the hotel industry.

Read and hear the full story at:

Posted by Ted • Monday, November 11, 2013 .