Public Enemy and mp3s symbolize the growing movement of music and technology working together. For the past five years, Public Enemy has been moving toward the use of web sites and mp3s to speak out to their fans. Being one of the largest voices for the new industry of web music, Public Enemy stands as one of the first major bands to release a full album on the web before it became available through stores. This successful attempt scares the record label industry. With the ability to market, sell, and display a band's image through mp3s and web sites, record labels can become virtually obsolete. These money hungry "middle man" will soon be left out of the equation. The band connects directly with its fans as well as portrays its purpose as a group. Through this technology, music becomes information.
Public Enemy's Chuck D aggressively promotes the band's use of the internet. According to Rolling Stone magazine (www.rollingstone.com) , "Chuck D shows no fear in the face of technology." He continues to stretch the music industry toward the web and takes a little power away from the record labels. The label takes time to present the music Public Enemy creates, leaving the fans in the dust. So Public Enemy took this problem into their own hands. "We predicted that there would be an alternative way of distributing music versus the industry trying to catch up. . . we set up our super site that was gonna spread most of our noise and that was www.public-enemy.com." This growing and innovative way of promoting sales gives the band a new look on how to cut out the "middle man" and make their music have a voice. Chuck D asserts that the lyrics hold a meaning and no one can escape that thought.
The web site allows Public Enemy to display their lyrics and make it impossible for the fans to miss the meaning. "We're going to say what we got to say regardless of its popularity or what." Chuck D makes a strong point of promoting his lyrics. He continues to state that "A wind storm won't blow some of these lyrics to the side. Nor will hype or press releases or liner notes." Public Enemy needs the web site to show what they truly stand for. The press release or marketing, according to Chuck D, will not get the job done. What does that mean? The record label does not give the band its meaning or allow them to present the statement the music entails. Music holds a certain meaning or point of information. It is the art of information. "The question is, what are people going to do with the information that they've got?" Chuck D asks an important question, but without the web site or mp3s, the people will not have the information to use.
An interesting "side show" occurs with the use of mp3s and web sites. The idea of plagiarism becomes a huge issue. As a result of the simplicity involved with stealing a band's property, labels are still a necessity. Local bands and unsigned bands do not have the privilege of copyright laws protecting the ideas presented on the web. As of right now, taking music off of the web proves itself to be a difficult thing to do. Rolling Stone magazine, in an article on Public Enemy's album being released on the web, argues that "the music will be encrypted onto the disks and playable only in conjunction with a Liquid Audio player, so attempts to duplicate the album won't be easy." In addition, the majority of music on the mp3s by local bands is simply a clip of a song, not an entire song. So while plagiarism is an issue, it does not seem to pose a huge problem. Mp3s and web sites scare record labels for this reason. If stealing property does not show a threat to the music bands, then what's the problem? The problem becomes free advertisement and less dependency on the record labels.
Looking into the future, another issue arises. The record labels fear the use of mp3's. But once the record label gains control of the internet, they can use it for their own advantage, just as music groups use it now. The difference lies in the fact that record labels will secure their place in the music industry if they manage to own and control each method of advertisement, sales and promotion. Public Enemy shows that while the music industry may be necessary for sponsorship, copyright laws and producing albums, they can not do it all. The web allows music to be a source of information and not just a money producer.
Mp3s and web sites allow the music bands to express their thoughts and ideas with freedom. What they represent and say on line reflects what they sing and sell in stores. Public Enemy proves this idea with one statement about their tours. To them, the tour becomes more than just music, it becomes a "campaign." The web site allows the fans to be connected one on one with the band. Chuck D asks what these people are going to do with the information, well the information needs to be presented first. Public Enemy opened the doors for the art of music to become a source of information through the web and mp3s. The revolution of music technology has just begun.