Downloaded: The SXSW Interview
Wednesday, March 14, 2pm, Austin Convention Center Room 18ABC
From his uncle's office in Massachusetts, 18-year-old college dropout Shawn Fanning created Napster in 1998. A martyr and hacker, the unassuming programmer spurred a vicious sea change in the digital era.
"There were all sorts of fundamental reasons why Napster was the right answer," maintains Fanning from his apartment in San Francisco. "It was important that music was freed up in terms of the limitations around the access to the content, the control of distribution, the kind of stranglehold and manipulation of promotional news – the ability to share and try stuff before purchasing it.
Napster was court-ordered into oblivion in 2001, but it blew the top off the genie bottle. The service inspired not only obvious successors like iTunes and Spotify, but also provided the fundamental platforms for YouTube, WikiLeaks and, to a lesser extent, the passive sharing that occurs on Facebook.
"In the end, it provided an opportunity for people to share this breadth of work that went well beyond top-sellers," says Fanning. "It created this real diverse, interesting, colorful jukebox in the sky – this collective music collection – and that diversity hasn't quite yet been achieved since."
Fanning doesn't wax nostalgic about Napster. Those three years lasted a lifetime, he says at one point. But lately, he's been re-examining that period for Downloaded, a feature-length look at digital music being produced for VH1 Rock Docs by South by Southwest panel host Alex Winter (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure).
Fanning's also reunited with Napster co-founder Sean Parker, now on Spotify's board of directors, for a new project called Airtime. While details are scarce, Fanning says he was inspired by the success of Chatroulette, a voyeuristic site that randomly placed users in various video chat rooms.
"We're really just making it up as we go," Fanning deadpans. "We don't really have much of a plan. We just figured we'd raise as much money as possible and just figure it out later."
Chase Hoffberger, Fri., May 24, 2013
Austin Powell, Fri., May 24, 2013
Margaret Moser, Fri., May 24, 2013
Kevin Curtin, Fri., May 24, 2013
Jim Caligiuri, Fri., May 24, 2013
Film Review Misses Mark Please make a note not to print any more movie reviews of big action movies by Kimberley Jones. She gets ...
What's the Big Deal? I'm baffled by this obsession with Mueller. I drove through it out of curiosity and it's a suburban nightmare that ...
No Mystery in School Bond Failures How out of touch has the Chronicle become with the voting populace of this city? From the article “Bonds: Death ...
Program Is Vital Resource I am responding to your article on ACCESS News, the program by and for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The ...
Finding Rail Route Complicated Michael King, in “The Reading Railroad”, while making valuable points, seems to state that finding an initial route for urban ...
- Follow us@AustinChronicle