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BREAKING NEWS: LimeWire Licensed

by Bob Lefsetz

"Oh baby don't it feel like heaven right now
Don't it feel like something from a dream"

"The Waiting"
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Yes, the waiting IS the hardest part. But FINALLY, after FIVE YEARS, the
music business has moved into the FUTURE!

Credit Jimmy Iovine. Co-producer, with Tom Petty, of the above track.

Yes, everybody kept looking to Andy Lack. To Mitch Bainwol. Somebody
PONTIFICATING on file-trading to lead.

But that's not Jimmy's style. If you know Jimmy, he specializes in working
in the background, getting things done.

And just like he engineered the 9/11 TV show, Jimmy has worked FURIOUSLY in
the past forty eight hours to broker a SOLUTION to this civil war in the music
world, a war within which FAMILIES took different sides.

And that's how it happened.

Everybody knows record execs are tech ignorant. Hell, to know anything about
tech, you've got to USE your computer, you've got to be online EIGHT HOURS A
DAY! The only people who really know what's going on are KIDS!

And Jimmy's kids finally got to him.

Oh YES, Jimmy could give them free CDs, but he couldn't deliver live tracks,
couldn't deliver unreleased tracks, couldn't deliver what they WANTED! And
specializing in being in the right place at the right time, Jimmy realized now
was the time to move. Now was the time to broker a truce.

Egged on, of course, by the Grokster Supreme Court hearing.

Oh, there was a DEVASTATING conference call subsequent to Tuesday morning's
court session. Thomas H. Lee HIMSELF got on the line and asked HOW DID YOU
GUYS FUCK THIS UP SO BAD??? I'm about to take this company public, and all
you're doing is insuring that everybody HATES US! Refusing revenue, don't any of
you guys have MBAs? Can't we license SOMEBODY??

Andy Lack about blew a gasket. He went on about the DualDisc. How if they
only gave it a little more time, got Matt Lauer to demonstrate it on the "Today
Show", people would reject the free product, hell, over time they'd be able
to RAISE the discs' price!

Clive Davis seconded this notion. After all, he was famously quoted in the
"People" Grammy Daily as not having an iPod, and only listening to CDs!

Zach Horowitz was flummoxed. This was HIS strategy, holding out forever,
beating the bad guys in court. But now, with the Supreme Court Justices suddenly
so HIP as to technology, could they REALLY pull the wool over their eyes?

Mitch Bainwol, of course, said nothing. He's the mouthpiece, but he's got no

As for Alain Levy, he was not on the call. Having to fly commercial instead
of private, he couldn't get a signal on the plane as he crossed the Atlantic
from New York to Paris. Rumor has it that Zach said EMI didn't count anyway,
but no one will confirm he actually uttered these words.

Overwrought, feeling like Nixon talking to the paintings in the White House,
Zach strode down the hall into Jimmy Iovine's office and spilled his guts.

Jimmy commiserated.

But as soon as Zach left the room, Jimmy started dialing, doing what he does
best, using TWENTIETH CENTURY technology to its best.

Actually, he couldn't get Mark Gorton, LimeWire's chief, on the phone.
Jimmy's assistant had to e-mail him. Picking up Jimmy's missive on his BlackBerry
at a yoga retreat north of San Francisco, Mark answered that he would do what
Jimmy asked. Which was to find a landline, cells being too insecure, and to

And then, in one of the great strategic moves of ALL TIME, Jimmy proceeded to
reach one level DOWN the food chain. To those who've seen their compensation
hammered while their bosses have raped and pillaged.

Yes, first Jimmy called his old protege, Tom Whalley. Who had to sign a new
deal for bupkes.

And then Andy Slater, the only bright spot in the EMI empire, whose deal is
almost up, and is being forced to re-up at CENTS on the dollar.

And then Jason Flom. Reached on the golf course, Jason said he was in. That
he felt manipulated by Lyor, That it was an insult that HE brought in all
the hits, but Lyor made all the money.

And then Barry Weiss. And Steve Greenberg.

He knew Monty was in. And, of course, Jordan Schur, who he put in power.

And a plan was hatched. The new guard, those who'd been held back too long,
those who really did the work, were going to REVOLT! Unless LimeWire was
licensed, they were all going to go on STRIKE! Stop working COMPLETELY!

But Jimmy, so savvy, realized that he needed more ammo. So, he got Don
Henley on the phone. It took HOURS of negotiation, and the promise of an eight
dollar royalty on the new Eagles CD (their audience doesn't know from MP3s), and
finally Don agreed. He'd deliver the Recording Artists Coalition, they were

And then, like the "Godfather", it was a fait accompli. It was done. Jimmy
summoned Zach to HIS office and told him what he'd put together. Feeling
stabbed in the back, Zach started swearing a blue streak, but then, when Jimmy
promised him he'd still have a job, UNDER HIM, Zach agreed to play ball. Agreed
to call Andy Lack, Alain Levy and Thomas H. Lee and tell them that it was
OVER! Universal was going to license LimeWire, and they had no choice, because in
addition to Universal having a 40+% market share, the other companies'
employees were with THEM!

God, only Jimmy can do this. Realize that the true music execs only respect
someone who's been in the studio, who's made records, who always WINS!

Thomas H. Lee was EXUBERANT!

Alain Levy was so pissed, he started speaking French.

Andy Lack, for the first time ever, was SPEECHLESS!

But, in the end, even Andy caved. Rumor has it that Suge's name was
mentioned, but I can't confirm this.

And then, Jimmy called Gorton. And told him it was a done deal.

And what's the deal?

You can buy a LimeWire trading license for five bucks a month. Take all you
want, GO FOR IT! But, if you DON'T buy a license, Mitch Bainwol's gonna SUE

Oh, Andy Lack protested this wasn't going to work, but Jimmy pointed out how
it works with CARS! You can drive without a license, but do you WANT TO?
Sure, there are people driving uninsured, but most people purchase car insurance,
since states REQUIRE IT, and the penalties for not complying are so SEVERE!

Yes, as of Sunday night at 2 a.m., coinciding with the advent of Daylight
Savings Time, you can buy a LimeWire trading license online. Right on the P2P
company's site. At first Jimmy wanted the licenses sold through U2's Website,
always eager to self-deal, juicing the Irish band's visibility, but everybody
else railed about the ticket pre-sale debacle, and he backed down.

What about APPLE?? Didn't Jimmy call STEVE JOBS?

No. Jimmy convinced everybody to leave Steve out, he already had TOO MUCH
POWER! It was time to take the power BACK!

What about Napster To GO??

Hell, the iTunes Music Store and Napster To Go can still exist, but Jimmy
preached REALITY! That these two entities were SIDESHOWS! DWARFED by P2P!

But why LimeWire?

Because it's now the P2P app of choice. Visitors increased 1876% in the last
year. While KaZaA's DROPPED 71%. (
AND, NO ONE wanted to reward the pricks at KaZaA and Grokster who'd been such
thorns in their side.

So, here's the deal.

LimeWire skims a 10% fee, for administration (and profit!) The remaining 90%
goes to the label. Which then splits the money, after publishing, with the
act 50/50. God, give Don Henley credit, he not only saved Thoreau's Walden
Woods, he saved Sheryl Crow, Marilyn Manson, My Chemical Romance, all the MODERN

Yup, every trade will be tracked. Monies will be divvied up. And then
ultimately split, as per above.

But, but, BUT you say. What's to prevent the advent of new, FREE sites!

God, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Jimmy's also been talking to Susan Deutsch. Of Verizon. She offered YEARS
ago to pay a trading fee for every Verizon DSL subscriber. Hilary Rosen called
this, famously, "disingenuous". But, just like the labels are now in bed
with Shawn Fanning (who's left out in the cold, broke once AGAIN), they've done a
180 here. They're now going to accept this fee. But, Verizon couldn't close
this fast, being in the midst of trying to acquire MCI.

And, in addition, the LimeWire license is only for a YEAR! The plan is to
get all the ISPs to kick in two or three bucks per subscriber, and then
ELIMINATE the trading license concept COMPLETELY! But Jimmy thought it imperative to
make a deal NOW! To try and regain some of the industry's good will. To try
to stave off the results of a bad Supreme Court decision.

Utterly amazing. The man who conspired with Carly Fiorina, who helped broker
the U2 iPod deal, who even tried with the FARM CLUB, has shown that he really
DOES get it, and has DELIVERED!

From all of us at CelebrityAccess…April Fools!

Contact Bob Lefsetz | View Lefsetz Letter Archives

NOTE: The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinion of CelebrityAccess, Encore or its employees.