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Nightline on digital music

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Nightline Friday will look at the impact technology has had on the music industry. Robert Krulwich is the reporter and he always does interesting work (They Might Be Giants music videos done for his series Brave New World are on the Gigantic DVD). Among the people he interviews is Jeff Tweedy of Wilco which has streamed their last two albums online before they were released.

Here is the Nightline email:

Nightline Daily E-Mail
September 24, 2004

TONIGHT’S FOCUS: It’s not just new music, it’s new ways to get it. Is it stealing, or distribution in new ways? Millions of songs are moving around the internet right now. So what’s going on?

There’s no better way to kill interest in a song than for your parents to say they like it. It’s sort of like a parent telling a teenager they like the way their child is dressed. Guaranteed that outfit will never ever see the light of day again. Same with music. It’s clear, your parents just can’t understand your music. If they do, it’s not your music anymore. But now there’s an even larger issue. Not only do many adults not get the music, they don’t get the distribution system. I remember 8-tracks. I don’t know why anyone thought they were a good idea, but there were those huge 8-track cassettes. Now you can buy an iPod, and have thousands of songs stored on something about one-fifth the size of an 8-track. And those songs are being downloaded from the internet by the thousands every minute. Is that stealing? There are sites where you have to pay, but there are plenty more, where you don’t. And the music industry is trying to figure out how to catch up. Some bands have happily embraced all this, releasing their music first on the net. Some have fought hard against it. Some hate it, but don’t want to say so for fear of alienating their fans. So what is going on?

Tonight we’ll let Robert Krulwich explain, and we’ll have a fair amount of fun along the way. Can Robert make it simple enough for the rest of us? One exchange from tonight’s show, with Benjamin, a music lover, caught my eye.

Krulwich: Doesn’t this puzzle you?
Benjamin: Clearly not as much as it puzzles you.

It’s a wonderful show. And to talk about it, we’ll have Jeff Tweedy, lead singer for the band Wilco. If you know who he is, you’ll tune in. If you don’t, you should tune in anyway, and just know that you made your kids very happy. Chris Bury will anchor tonight, I hope you’ll join us.

Leroy Sievers and the Nightline Staff
Nightline Offices
Washington, D.C.

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