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A revolution in the music industry has surfaced! In 1999, Shawn Fanning, a Northeastern University undergraduate, wrote a small MP3-sharing software application known as Napster. Originally designed for the exchange of Fanning and friends' own recordings, Napster quickly became a conduit for mainstream MP3s, and an MP3-sharing community was built overnight as the beta version of the shareware program quickly caught on. New songs could be found and downloaded at the touch of a button. Entire albums could be exchanged in minutes for free. In addition, the natal Sagittarian Sun (self) in the company’s chart sextiles Mars (action) conjunct Neptune (illusion, lack of boundaries), producing the ability to do it all anywhere with complete anonymity.

The Recording Industry Association of America contends that the service Napster provides is just a high-tech shortcut to music piracy. But in recent “friends of the court” briefs, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which represents tech giants like AT&T, Yahoo and Oracle, said the courts need to reinterpret and revise some of the “overprotective” models for guarding intellectual property.

Born on a Media Moon

Napster’s incorporation chart (a chart drawn for the date the company was incorporated) reflects the issues surrounding it at the time of the company's "birth." Born on a Gemini Full Moon, communication and idea-sharing are where Napster shines! This chart reveals the Gemini infleunce of information, media, distribution and marketing to the general public. The Moon (the public) trines Neptune and widely trines Mars, suggesting the public’s vision of the company is inflated or bigger than what was initially intended. Never was this more obvious than when Napster test-drove the beta software, and the next thing you know twenty million people were using it—all within six months.

The Sagittarian Sun, at the profound 0 degree, sextiles musical Neptune in the technology sign of Aquarius, and action-planet Mars in the business sign of Capricorn. It’s not all about software. Finally, garage bands around the world have an easy way to distribute their songs to previously untapped audiences. This is about the new generation of the “digital media distribution market.”

Big Challenges Come Too Fast

Napster’s driving force is the t-square signature in the chart between Saturn, Mercury and Uranus. Saturn in Taurus (the thorn in Napster’s side) represents the traditional way the music business has operated. It is opposed the remotely cryptic Mercury in Scorpio, which further shows Napster’s ability to facilitate anonymous communication. Uranus in Aquarius squares them both, adding a new awareness formed in the way music is distributed to millions. The concept of file sharing among millions through a simple software application is cutting-edge and can be used in many other industries. Natal Saturn separating from (moving away from the exact square angle) Uranus suggests Napster’s creation may not continue in the same form as it is known today.

Landmark Cyberspace Battle

Legal hassles continue from the trial outcome on August 18, 2000 that almost closed Napster’s doors. Opening arguments in the trial pitting Napster, Inc. against some of the giants of the recording industry will start on October 2, 2000. This continues to be a landmark battle over copyright protection in cyberspace that can eventually touch books, movies, television and other forms of media.

On September 6, in a separate case with music Internet startup, MP3.com, a federal judge ruled that MP3.com “engaged in thousands of acts of copyright infringement when it created an 80,000-album digital database, allowing users to stream music from its servers.” The judge fined MP3.com $118 million in damages. This case set a precedent that could have a profound impact on the upcoming Napster trial.

In early October, near the time of the trial, transiting Saturn at station (0 degree of Gemini) will oppose Napster’s Sun, bringing traditional law to the forefront as Napster’s legal team claims “the recording industry has tried to use its stranglehold on music copyrights to force technology companies to acquiesce to its demands.” Napster’s challenge will be to appear to produce a win-win between the public and industry. Transiting Jupiter  (expansion) in Gemini (communication) opposed natal Pluto (power) suggests the opponent may be strong, and Napster must proceed with caution, making a special effort to placate them. They may need to enlarge (Jupiter) their personal goals to encompass the industry’s goals, or the court could close their doors.

Digital Playing Field Has Changed

Film and publishing executives stay awake at night with the thought that what happened to the music industry could happen to them. Napster represents the collective consciousness of change in the digital media distribution market, whether it is music, film or publishing. The way we access these is about to change! Regardless of the ongoing litigation, Napster has forever changed the concept of music distribution, and perhaps signaled the end of the music industry as we know it.

Notes

MP3 is a compression computer music file format that uses about one-tenth of the space used by the regular wave files you play on your stereo. It can turn music on compact disks into small computer files.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pat Esclavon Hardy is President of Energies, Trends, Cycles, a business consulting firm that specializes in trend forecasting. Her focus is assisting individuals, executives, investors, companies and entrepreneurs identify windows of opportunity using astrological assessment to give them a competitive edge in the marketplace. Pat co-developed online astrology for Home Shopping Network in the mid-1990's. Wrote a weekly career astrology column for BrainBuzz.com,an I.T. e-cruiting internet company. Presently working with clients.

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Other StarIQ articles by Pat Hardy:

  • Cisco: Shining Star has a Meteoric Fall   5/17/2001
  • AOL-Time Warner: The New Media Giant   3/1/2001
  • Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com: Can Earth's Biggest Bookstore Make It?   1/5/2001
  • Firestone’s Deadly Tire Recall   9/27/2000
  • Coming of Age: The Knowledge Keepers   7/19/2000
  • The E-Signature Bill is Passed   7/10/2000
  • Social Issues are Financial Issues   5/3/2000

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