DOWNLOADED – THE NAPSTER DOCUMENTARY: A REVIEW

DOWNLOADED is a great documentary from the Melbourne International Film Festival and nicely reviewed, as always, by Salty Kernel, DARA SHASHOUA. It still has two screenings remaining at the festival – Monday 5th August at 9pm and Sunday 11th August at 130pm at Greater Union. As Dara is now our Melbourne correspondent we got your back in multiple states so enjoy this review from Lady D. Tickets can be purchased for the film HERE and be sure to suss out their website for the entire program HERE.

 

napster, alex winter, dara shashoua, documentary, MIFF, Melbourne International Film Festival, downloaded documentary, the napster docco
DOWNLOADED: A SALTY POPCORN REVIEW FOR THE MIFF

 

Hands up if you’ve heard of Napster?

Hands up if you knew that 2 19 year olds guys created Napster?

Hands up if you know how the American Music Industry and the American Government essentially didn’t understand the premise of music sharing and instead of working with Napster and making the industry better just destroyed it?

Well if your hand isn’t up on that last question, you should read on then go and see Downloaded.

Downloaded is a very well edited and researched documentary about the first ever peer to peer music file sharing program called Napster. The beginning talks about the Internet and how it began and showed this clip from 1994 of The Today Show in America talking about the Internet and what the @ symbol means.  It’s a classic.

 

 

That was 1994, only 9 years ago.  Just goes to show how the Internet has completely changed how we live in a relatively short period of time.  It also allowed the framework for Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker (yep, the guy JT played in The Social Network) to create Napster in 1999.

Napster was created because of Shawn Fanning’s emotional connection to music; and he wanted to create a way to meet people through music and as a result started working on Napster.  Fanning and Parker met online in a ‘hackers’ chat room and Napster was born.  It launched on June 1 in 1999 and essentially revolutionised music sharing to what it is today.

To say these boys were pioneers is an understatement, what they achieved when Napster was created is nothing short of amazing.  It is this framework that is used for iTunes and many other peer to peer sharing programs we all use on a daily basis. In an early interview you can see Parker saying that they believe that you will be able to share music on your mobile phone, your computer and whatever the device of the future is….. um crystal ball much?

 

napster, alex winter, dara shashoua, documentary, MIFF, Melbourne International Film Festival, downloaded documentary, the napster docco
DOWNLOADED: A SALTY POPCORN REVIEW FOR THE MIFF

 

Alex Winter, the director and friend of both Fanning and Parker has done an incredible job of securing interviews with almost all of the heavyweights of the industry at the time.  There are also interviews with people like Mike D from the Beastie Boys, Henry Rollins, Noel Gallagher and Billy Corgan. It’s essentially a who’s who of the music industry.

At its peak in 2001, Napster grew to having 60 million members, all freely trading music at any time.  Once the music industry realised what was happening it was perceived that because of Napster they were missing out on revenue, and lots of it.  This started the largest corporate lawsuit in the history of the world at that time.  I believe that the music industry didn’t fundamentally understand what Napster was about, you can see parts of the court case and testimony from musicians stating that since Napster they were actually earning revenue from CD sales that they had never previously received.  People were sharing music then going out to purchase the CD.  Their perception of what Napster had created was wrong, it was a battle of David and Goliath proportions.  Even some of the music industry such as Lars Ulrich, Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre were stating that they would fight Napster to the death.  You can see it was all a knee jerk reaction without understanding the fundamentals let alone working with Napster to try and make an amazing piece of technology work.

 

napster, alex winter, dara shashoua, documentary, MIFF, Melbourne International Film Festival, downloaded documentary, the napster docco
DOWNLOADED: A SALTY POPCORN REVIEW FOR THE MIFF

 

The case went to the Supreme Court, but the revolution had begun and other sites had popped up in the meantime.  Napster turned the music industry on its head, unfortunately the industry had grown comfortable and didn’t adapt, instead of stopping and looking at how people were now sharing music they did what the American answer to everything is.  Sue them.

In the interview you can see how Shawn Fanning is still affected by what happened with Napster, after all it was initially his idea.  Parker moved onto Facebook and is now a part owner in Spotify and his worth is about $3 billion.  Fanning has worked on many other projects but never to the same amount of success as Napster.

I think Shawn Fanning is like any pioneer, way ahead of his time and paid the ultimate price the loss of his dream.

Downloaded is awesome. If you love music go and see it.

 

4 Pops