• United States
by Ann Harrison

Madonna cusses at file traders

Apr 29, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Material Girl lashes back

A freshly militarized Madonna, who appears in uniform for her latest video, has taken a uniquely aggressive approach to file traders who have long posted unauthorized copies of her albums on P2P sites. Rough mixes of the title track of her last album “Music” were posted on several file-trading networks, including Napster, before the album was launched. 

Madonna has now struck back by flooding file-trading networks with dummy music files that appear to be full-length songs. When played, however, the files contain not music, but a recording of Madonna’s voice saying, “What the f*** do you think you are doing?”

Whether you like her music or not, Madonna has always been refreshingly direct. But in this case, her cussing at file traders will not likely impact the degree to which her music is traded. As with her other albums, her newest release, “American Life,” was available for download on MP3 sites before its official release.

Swamping file-sharing networks with decoy files is not a new idea. Rapper Eminem did it last year with a file that contained only a looped piece of one of his tunes. But two things will happen as a result of Madonna’s unorthodox anti-P2P strategy. As Madonna knows well, controversy draws attention to her material. This dummy file continues her brilliant manipulation of mainstream sexual prudery by flinging out the “F” word in the name of chastising file traders.

It will also attract the attention of the file trading community who will likely target her material for special attention. Her official Web site has already been hacked and tracks from “American Life” offered for free download.

If her scolding dummy music files do prompt brisk trading of her music on P2P sites, Madonna can then blame file traders if the album fails to sell. Early reviews of the album are decidedly negative. The record industry is already practiced at blaming online file sharing for a drop in CD sales, ignoring questions of quality and worldwide economic recession.

But another ironic benefit of P2P sites is that artists can use the networks to say pretty much anything they want. If Madonna wants to distribute files of her cussing, fine. Other musicians, such as the Beastie Boys, have been using file-trading sites to distribute antiwar music that their record companies refuse to distribute, and radio stations owned by Clear Channel refuse to broadcast. 

It is also worth noting that musician Lenny Kravitz and the Iraqi musician Al Sahir have recorded an antiwar song only available as a free downloaded at rockthevote. P2P networks will continue to be a conduit for censored artists, and a battleground for icons like Madonna who have a taste for full-on cultural combat.