Rosen strikes harmonious chord

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In the past two years, Hilary Rosen has been thrown into one of the biggest music jams ever. No, she doesn't even play guitar.

As president-CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, Ms. Rosen, 42, is leading the charge in industrywide lawsuits representing major record labels against Internet services that allow computer users to download copyrighted music.

Current target: Napster.

Old target:

New target: That's the problem. There could be hundreds of new Internet companies.

This is where Ms. Rosen's deft negotiating skills, in dealing with sometimes high-strung music executives, come into play. In spite of the animosity between some music executives, Ms. Rosen wouldn't describe it as a battle.

She says she believes all warring factions -- Internet music distributors or record label producers -- need each other and are in this together.

"I think what make the times right now interesting, and my job interesting is that I don't view it all as a fight," says Ms. Rosen. "I think we will succeed when everyone succeeds."

"What people don't know about is that the Internet is a critical part of our business. There is not a new marketing campaign of an album release that doesn't entail a serious Internet promotion strategy. I feel that we have this image of fighting this technology, and that's not true."

As evidence of this is last week's surprise agreement between Naptser and Bertelsmann AG's BMG Entertainment.


The Napster and Internet delivery issues have been a major juggling act for Ms. Rosen, say industry analysts, as more consumers prefer to use their computers to download music.

"Because of the time she operates in, it's a difficult task," says Ric Dube, music Internet analyst for Internet consultancy Webnoize. "She is handling five of the biggest music companies, who are moving at different paces."

Industry critics blame the record labels for napping while the Internet, Napster and MP3 sprung up, not marketing their artists to the fullest. Now, through Napster and the Internet, there is renewed consumer interest. Web services such as Napster have given established and, more importantly, new artists venues they never had before.


Once Napster issues are resolved, independent music sites will see more growth. "It has been difficult for people to enter because of [Napster]," says Ms. Rosen. "There is no question that music will be aggregated at multiple sites.

Ms. Rosen became president of RIAA in 1997 after more than a dozen years of working for the Washington-based lobby. She was named CEO in 1998.

One recently announced project includes developing a standardized system to identify digital files, which would be used to monitor the path that copyrighted music takes on the Internet.

While Ms. Rosen is no musician, she is a lover of music. As the point person on legal and regulatory issues for the major worldwide music companies, her job is to find common ground. So she does what any good music lover does.

"I listen," Ms. Rosen says.