50 Cent and Crow torpedo HP's RIAA love-in

Mute witnesses

Did artists 50 Cent and Sheryl Crow know what they were getting into last week, when they played a mute but starring role at Hewlett Packard's keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas?

If they did, then they've reversed their publicly held positions supporting changes in online music distribution. Both artists were paraded on stage by Universal executive Jerry Iovine during HP CEO Carly Fiorina's keynote as fighters against file-trading. But a look back at both musicians' pasts shows that they are at odds with the music industry.

At CES, Iovine described a recent conversation he had with record breaking rapper 50 Cent. Iovine told 50 Cent about a college student making a few hundred dollars per week selling copied music.

"50 Cent said, 'Let me know who this kid is because I am going to take his lunch and take away his car,'" Iovine said.

But this second hand account of 50 Cent's words is the exact opposite of what the rapper told RapBasement.

RapBasement.com: What is your position on internet piracy on music like Napster and other programs?

50 Cent: I don't have a problem with that. I think people want to see, people were tried of being cheated, by music, by buying albums that have one good record two good records, I think they are checking. I think that even people who download music will go out and buy the cd, after they hear it and hear a lot of good music on it.

RapBasement.com: It should motivate artists to make more complete records.

50 Cent: Ya like I think, the bootleggers, I think mix tapes are like black market distribution, I think bootleggers are effective for new artists. Once they get a buzz strong enough for them to bootleg them, they can circulate music to the point that they become popular.

That's peculiar.

Surely, Iovine wasn't making up the discussion with 50 Cent? After all, he also convinced rocker Sheryl Crow to attend the HP CES event in person, showing a tight link he shares with artists. She joined the record executive on stage along with HP CEO Carly Fiorina, following Iovine's rhetoric filled speech against file-trading. Crow, however, didn't actually say anything at the event.

She has been far more vocal in her role as founder of the Recording Artists Coalition (RAC). This organization, as it turns out, has serious problems with the way the recording industry takes profits from artists.

In particular, RAC is fighting against online music stores that give record labels a new way to exploit artists.

"MOCA (Music Online Competition Act) seeks to streamline the distribution of music over the Internet, increase competition, and avoid the monopolization of the online music industry by the record companies. The recent formation of two joint ventures between record companies and online music distributors, MusicNet and Pressplay, prompted this legislative initiative. " the organization writes on its Web site.

The artists are calling for direct compensation for songs purchased online. They are also trying to stop the five major labels from dominating online music stores as they have in the brick-and-mortar world.

Again, you have to wonder if Crow knew what she was getting into when Iovine invited the singer to attend the HP event.

Given the previously stated views of the artists, the showing of 50 Cent and Sheryl Crow as piracy fighters appears to be one more attempt by the recording industry to bend facts for their crusade against sharing music. ®

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