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Record Label Stops Rock Band From Releasing Music on Web

By P.J. Huffstutter
LOS ANGELES TIMES

Citing paralyzing legal pressure, multiplatinum rock band Offspring has bowed to the demands of its record label and has scrapped plans to post an album on the Internet more than a month before the CD goes on sale.

The band’s plans had raised the hackles of Sony, the record label that distributes the band’s music. Sony and other major record labels are embroiled in legal battles against several online services that allow fans freely to swap music over the Net.

Band officials declined to comment Monday, citing legal restrictions tied to the band’s settlement agreement with Sony.

Analysts described the change in the band’s plans as an expected move, and warned that the record companies still retain control over the most important weapon in the war over music on the Net -- the artists.

“It just goes to show that the record companies still hold most of the cards,” said Malcolm Maclachlan, a media e-commerce analyst who tracks online entertainment trends for the research company IDC. “Everyone’s talking about these new means of distribution, and how bands won’t have to be beholden to the labels. This proves that you can be a pretty successful band, and it’s still a better economic bet to go with the record companies.”

A Columbia Records executive said the label was “extremely happy that Sony Music has worked out a solution with The Offspring and its management that supports the integrity of the band’s creative idea and enables them to proceed with their promotion.”

The online launch, however, will be limited to the posting of only one single, not the entire record. The single download will be available through the band’s official site, http://www.offspring.com, as well as several other online music sites.

Initially, Offspring, whose members have long supported the controversial online music enterprise Napster Inc., announced two weeks ago that it would post its new record “Conspiracy of One” on the Net on September 29.