Courtney Love Wages War on Major Labels


Keynote speaker Courtney Love lauds Web at digital conference
Posted May 18, 2000 at 12:00am
At the Digital Hollywood Conference in New York on Tuesday, co-keynote speaker Sam Donaldson explained how the conference's organizers brought him to the event, "When they said you'll be on the same platform as Courtney Love, I said, 'I'm there.'"

After a few snafus with the paparazzi ("I thought this was a digital conference not a press conference"), Love settled in and delivered a speech of her own that clocked in at just under an hour. Love addressed everything from Napster, the RIAA, ending her contract with Geffen Records and getting back to the DIY punk ethos. "It's become quite fashionable lately for artists to express outrage at music piracy, and I'm a fashionable gal," Love began. "Stealing artists' music without paying for it fairly is absolutely piracy, and I'm talking about major-label recording contracts, not Napster."

Sometimes reading from a well-prepared and researched speech and sometimes speaking off the cuff, Love's view was more encompassing of the whole industry and more thoughtful than either Metallica's "Napster bad" or Limp Bizkit's -- and most fans' -- "Napster good" platforms.

"Stealing our copyright provisions in the dead of night when no one is looking is piracy. It's not piracy when kids swap music over the Internet using Napster," Love argued. "There were one billion music downloads last year but music sales are way up, so how is Napster hurting the music industry? It's not. The only people scared of Napster are people who have filler on their albums and are scared that if people hear more than one single, they're not going to buy the record."

And with that, Love spoke about her decision to leave Geffen Records. "I want to work with people who believe in music and art and passion," she said. "I'm leaving the major-label system . . . It's a radical time for musicians, a really revolutionary time, and I believe revolutions are a lot more fun than cash, which by the way we don't have at major labels anyway, so we might as well get with it and get in the game. Everyone's been calling me, from Sheryl Crow to Beck to the Beastie Boys. I don't know anybody that isn't watching my case and not really excited about what's going to happen."

What is happening is that Geffen Records will not back down quietly. Last January the label filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Hole for unspecified damages, maintaining that the band owes the label five more albums. Hole contends that California's personal service contracts limit the term of contract to seven years, and therefore the band is no longer obligated to record for Geffen. If Geffen wins, the band would not be allowed to record under the name Hole for any other label.

As the band's Web Site, www.holemusic.com, proves, Hole are already forging ahead without a label. The site offers MP3s, videos, updates on band member's side projects as well as Love's picks for everything from music to books, to other Web sites and an "Ask Hole" forum for fans to post questions to each band member.

Love concluded by restating her newfound love for DIY: "If these major labels aren't going to do for me what I can do for myself with my nineteen-year-old Web mistress Brooke [Barnett], which is drive millions and millions of people in less than a month by just doing that Web site, and providing real content for that Web site, than they can go to hell."

Written by CHRISTINA SARACENO for RollingStone.com News

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