Dave Stewart says let Napster rock on

Music guru Stewart backs Napster and rocks with Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen

Rock music stalwart and Internet entrepreneur Dave Stewart has called for artists to use the Internet to release material that is not tied to traditional music publishers, and praised controversial MP3 application Napster.

Speaking at the UK Internet Summit in London about the future of content on the Web, Stewart predicted that artists of all kinds would soon use the Internet to distribute material on their own terms.

He added his voice to a growing number of artists singing the praises of MP3 file-sharing program Napster. The enormously popular program has, Stewart said, demonstrated how traditional publishing is becoming increasingly unworkable and shown that artists must take control of their work.

"Anything 'anarchistic' like Napster is good," he said. "It makes artists ask why they are not in control of what they are doing." Stewart predicted that eventually musicians will be paid for their work not with royalties, but on a subscription basis. "Artists of any worth or strength will rise up and take control of the situation."

Napster, which is currently being sued by the Recording Industry Association for America (RIAA) for allegedly promoting music piracy, has certainly caused a shake up within the music industry. Record companies and artists remain divided as to whether the application should be banned or embraced and Stewart claimed that over the last 50 years MTV and Napster have had the most important impact on the industry.

To demonstrate what types of less mainstream projects artists might find a place for on the Internet, Stewart showed home video footage of himself, Mick Jagger and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allan jamming at his home. Stewart also said he was working with Allen to develop ways for artists to get their material online.

Stewart said that the Internet opens up new possibilities for artists, adding that most have a huge amount of material that is never published because of the restrictive nature of traditional music production. "The emerging technology of broadband means that artists can invite fans into their homes."

The Internet can also be used by artists to collaborate on independent projects, added Stewart. He suggested that artists from different parts of the world might contribute the different tracks of a song, sharing their efforts with each other over the Internet.

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