(This is another in a continuing series of reports about music on
Staff Writer Chris Nelson writes:
A few weeks back, some members of the Offspring were flipping through
an issue of Rolling Stone when they came upon the magazine's
There, in an index compiled by the industry newsletter The MP3
Impact, they discovered that their single "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)" (RealAudio excerpt) was ranked as the most pirated song on the Internet.
Some bands might have reacted in horror to such news.
But Offspring frontman Dexter Holland, whose band is at the top of its
game right now, saw it as less of a threat than an opportunity.
"We knew that we had some interest on our website (www.offspring.com),
but this was really amazing to us," Holland recalled. "It showed us
there was a big audience. When there's that much interest on the
Internet, I want it to be something that we address and actively
As the 33-year-old singer sees it, action was going on in this new
arena whether the band wanted it or not. So rather than let all the
shots be called by pirates, the Offspring -- whose album Americana is #7 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and whose single "Why Don't You Get a Job" (RealAudio excerpt) has become a rock-radio staple -- decided to begin offering official goods online.
They launched their foray this week with "Beheaded," a song from their
lesser-known 1989 self-titled debut. The track is now available as a
free download in a2b format from RealNetworks. It's intended to
promote the film "Idle Hands" -- which features the band
performing "Beheaded" live -- as well as the new RealJukebox player,
which allows users to record songs from CDs in both RealAudio and MP3
"It's kind of the same thing as if you were going on tour," Holland
said. "If you knew that there were a few thousand people in Texas that
wanted to see you, you'd probably go to Texas and play a show. It
felt like it was this kind of thing. People were interested and they
were asking about it, and I wanted to respond to it."
The Offspring are one of many bands hitting on the same notion.
"The first thing I'd ever heard about MP3 was when I was looking over
the shoulder of a friend who was online and saw that basically our
entire catalog was available for free as MP3s," John Flansburgh,
singer/guitarist for They Might Be Giants, said. Now the eccentric
pop duo offer their entire catalog for sale in MP3 format through the
Internet label GoodNoise.
As a label owner himself -- he founded Nitro, which released The Offspring -- Holland understands that numerous details must be worked out before the music industry immerses itself wholesale in the online world. He has yet to approach Columbia, the major label to which the band is signed, about doing downloads from Americana.
But he does plan to talk with company executives. He sees plenty of
ways to use the Net to bring more listeners into the Offspring fold,
be it offering singles online in advance of their release, posting
live material to the band's website or offering samples of every song
from upcoming albums.
Holland is like the ecologist who knows there are several years before
environmental decay hits the planet head on, but is getting involved
now rather than waiting for the inevitable. Other bands and labels can
wait, but the Offspring want to stake out territory on the Net while
the opportunities seem richest.
"It's a gray area," Holland conceded. "Everyone's trying to figure out
what it means, and trying to get comfortable with it.
"Some people obviously think this could hurt potential record sales if
you're giving away songs for free over the Internet. But I really don't
believe that. If we're the #1 most pirated band, and yet our record's
still in the top 10, and has been for a long time, I don't think it's
Two rare Eminem tracks will soon be available for download
through the custom-CD company CDuctive (www.cductive.com). The
cuts -- "Scary Movies," recorded under the name Bad Meets Evil
with Royce Da 5-9, and "Green and Gold," with the Anonymous
-- are already available on the site as custom CD selections, and
as streaming RealAudio tracks on Eminem's own page (www.eminem.com).
Another Bad Meets Evil cut, "Nuttin' to Do," is available for free
download in a2b format through RealNetworks (www.real.com). ...
While Public Enemy chose the secure a2b format to release their
new single "Do You Wanna Go Our Way???" through RealNetworks, they
also made the track available in unprotected MP3 format through their
own website (www.public-enemy.com), the Atomic Pop label
(www.atomicpop.com) and Amazon.com. ...
Indie rockers Apples in Stereo are offering a free MP3 of the
unreleased "Strawberry Fire" for 24 hours beginning May 19 at 9 p.m.
EDT. The track will be posted at www.insound.com following a chat with
the band. ...
Although MP3s are generally associated with newer releases, some
vintage material is starting to turn up in the format. Classic tracks
such as Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising"
and Big Star's "September Gurls" are being sold in MP3 form
by MusicMaker (www.musicmaker.com). ...
MusicMatch has released the 4.0 beta version of its popular Jukebox MP3
encoder program. The new version allows users to "rip" MP3s not only
from CDs but also vinyl records, cassettes and microphones.