Brian May on CNN WorldBeat


Brian May on CNN
Screened: 9 January 2000

Music and Internet Crossing Paths in New Millennium; Guitar Wizard Brian May Discusses Royal Sounds of Queen; Grammy Race Gets Underway

Aired January 9, 2000 – 0:00 a.m. ET



BROOKE ALEXANDER, HOST: Hi, I’m Brooke Alexander with WORLD BEAT. Welcome to a new musical millennium.

Coming up, music technology, the future is here.


SARAH MCLACHLAN, MUSICIAN: For album of the year, the nominees are…


ALEXANDER: The Grammys, the nominations are here. The axe man cometh in the form of Queen’s Brian May. And Algerian excellence from Cheb Mami. New technology is changing the way music is recorded, received and retailed. More and more music is becoming available over the Internet and more and more people are downloading it. From MP3 to DVD, the changes provide new opportunities for new artists and new challenges for record labels.

A special report now from our technology correspondent, Allison Tom.


ALLISON TOM, WORLD BEAT (voice-over): 1999 was a record year for music and the Internet. MP3, the ever-popular compression format for transmitting audio files over the Internet, became mainstream. British rock star David Bowie released his entire album, called “Ours,” over the Internet weeks before it appeared in traditional retail stores.


Brian Adams, “Summer of ’69”


TOM: Then there was Net Aid, the benefit concert for Third World countries sponsored by the United Nations. From the $12 million raised, an initial $1 million will be donated to people in need. And in the next millennium, even within the next few years, rapid growth in technology and the Internet will have an even greater impact on the music industry as a whole.

JASON OLIM, CDNOW: The Internet has really changed the way people learn about and discover and experience and buy music.

TOM: In 1999, music fans spent about $850 million on CDs bought over the Web. By the year 2003, that number is expected to grow to about $4 billion. Companies like and allow users from around the world to download songs to their personal computers, most of them for free. The MP3 revolution has given a tremendous amount of exposure to lesser-known artists.


Mike Oldfield, “Tubular Bells 3”


TOM: But technology has also become a beneficial tool for well known global musicians like “Tubular Bells” rock star Mike Oldfield.

MIKE OLDFIELD, MUSICIAN: Now with the Internet it’s total anarchy. I mean it’s very bad news for record companies but it’s great news for, you know, throwing caution to the wind, doing what the hell you feel like and seeing what’s going to come out of it, you know? I’m, you know, I tend to do that every seven years. I’m like a snake, I shed my skin and I just reinvent myself, you know? And I think the music industry does need to reinvent itself.

TOM: Other composers like Peter Zizzo say they’re more concerned about the quality over the quantity of music that’s become available online.

PETER ZIZZO, MUSICIAN: There’s good and bad things about technology. I’m glad that it’s there. I just hope that there’s always room for musical people, you know, people that have a true ability to create something melodically, chordally and lyrically that raises the bar rather than lowers it.


The Artist, “The Greatest Romance Ever Sold”


TOM: The artist formerly known as Prince says he uses the Internet as a way to promote his music and to connect directly with his fans.

THE ARTIST, MUSICIAN: What I use the Internet for is to communicate with people who dig my music and let them dictate what it is that I put in the albums. I’ve done albums the conventional way, con being the keyword there. So I wanted to do something that was more interactive. TOM (on camera): One issue that still needs to be addressed, copyrights to music that’s digitally downloaded online. The Recording Industry Association of America has come up with one idea to combat piracy. It’s called the Secure Digital Music Initiative or SDMI.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN INTERACTIVE CORRESPONDENT: It’s an effort by over 120 technology and music companies to try and work together to create the legitimate music marketplace for consumers.

TOM (voice-over): SDMI will focus on security issues as well as making sure consumers get the actual product they ordered online. But others in the music industry are skeptical, saying such a set of standards may not be effective.

MIKE GREBB, “BILLBOARD” MAGAZINE: You’ve just got a lot of people that have to get together and agree on something and that’s always a challenge. I wouldn’t say that it’s definitely not going to work. There certainly are a lot of people out there that are fearful of it from the standpoint that they’re worried the record companies are going to exert too much power over the flow of digital information.

TOM: Currently, major record labels are tapping into the Internet, primarily using it as a promotional device for artists.

ROSEN: Technology used to be really ancillary to music. It was always sort of the vehicle to amplify. But today it’s the vehicle to distribute, the vehicle to play with it, to interact with it. Technology has had a whole host of sort of overriding changes for music itself.

TOM: Other changes could potentially give musicians from all parts of the world more control of their music and their fans.

GREBB: Artists are going to have a lot more power in the future over their own music and this goes not only for the big bands and the big acts but for the small ones that haven’t been discovered yet.


David Bowie, “Thursday’s Child”


TOM: But for artists like David Bowie, who have already experimented with technology and the Internet, there’s no telling what the future will bring.

DAVID BOWIE, MUSICIAN: It’s very hard to actually foresee accurately what’s going to happen with the Internet because it’s growing exponentially you really have no idea how wide the parameters are going to get in any given time.


ALEXANDER: We will take a short break, but we’ll return with an extended version of “The Beat,” looking at this week’s Grammy nominations. And, we’ll meet Brian May, whose distinctive guitar style is behind unforgettable hits like this.




Top Ten:

10. BRITNEY SPEARS, “Baby One More Time” 9. BRYAN ADAMS, “The Best of Me” 8. ALANIS MORISSETTE, “Unplugged” 7. GEORGE MICHAEL, “Songs From the Last Century” 6. QUEEN, “Greatest Hits III” 5. METALLICA, “S&M” 4. ANDREA BOCELLI, “Sacred Arias” 3. CHER, “Greatest Hits” 2. SHANIA TWAIN, “Come On Over” 1. CELINE DION, “All the Way–A Decade of Song”



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