Lime Wire CEO Talks Music Industry & Company’s Future

Increasing Legitimacy Through Partnerships & Getting More Social

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Lime WireI recently got in touch with George Searle, CEO of Lime Wire, who owns one of the most widely used file sharing services of the same name. Even if you have never used LimeWire, you have no doubt read about it, as it has been mentioned frequently throughout the years when illegal file sharing lawsuits are reported on.

A while back Lime Wire began making big moves to establish its reputation as a truly legitimate player in the online music industry. They have the LimeWire Store, as well as the recently announced more social version of the file-sharing service, LimeWire 5. 

Chris Crum: Obviously file-sharing programs are often shed in a negative light with constant legal issues from the RIAA, MPAA, etc. What’s the picture looking like on that front these days? Has the tension eased, strengthened, or remained basically the same?

George Searle, Lime Wire CEO

George Searle: I am encouraged, on the one hand, to see the music industry move away from their failed strategy of suing individuals, but discouraged, on the other, that their focus has not yet shifted from limiting customers. Having ISPs police and disconnect file sharers will do nothing to help the industry’s position; nor will it put a single penny into the pockets of artists, songwriters and publishers.  The challenge of making money in the digital world will require a more thoughtful process and sensitive, respectful, approach to users.  Lime Wire would like to help the music industry introduce a full range of commercial services to monetize file sharing and harness, rather than alienate, music consumers.

Comedy Central CC: Lime Wire has been forming partnerships such as with The Orchard, IODA, Redeye Distribution, Nettwerk Music Group, IRIS and even Comedy Central. Are there any other big name content partners in the mix at this point?

GS:  We’re very encouraged by our current partnerships, and are working with some of the best here.  We continue to expand these partnerships and work more closely with the partners we currently have. The total number of songs available in the LimeWire Store is now over two million, and greater success will attract further partnerships.  As we’ve said, we look forward to the day we can work together with the entire music industry to help expand their reach and deliver more to the consumer. We’re optimistic that this will happen

LimeWire Store

CC: Can you talk a little bit about your strategy for getting content partners on board, when the nature of file sharing programs in general have been such a thorn in the sides of these organizations for so long?

GS: What’s happening in peer-to-peer and at LimeWire right now represents a unique opportunity for the music industry.  Together, we have a historic opportunity to build a new future of file sharing that compensates rights holders while maintaining the aspects of technology and community that make P2P attractive.  Our users initiate over 5 billion searches every month.  That’s 5 billion opportunities to reach fans with the right message, the right product and the right price.  We think that P2P can simultaneously support a number of services, including promotion, ad supported, sponsored, subscription, and a la carte paid downloads of music; and have had several promising meetings with Labels to develop a model that will compensate both the Labels and their artists.

CC: How critical of a role do the recently introduced social networking elements of Lime Wire play in future of the company?

GS:  P2P has always been inherently social, and with 5.0 we are bringing social to the forefront.  One exciting feature of 5.0 is that it allows the user to easily set up personal sharing networks on a file-by-file, friend-by-friend basis.  For example, you can share vacation photos with a limited circle of friends or work documents with your colleagues, and discover new files from other members of your social circle. All of this is built off your existing, trusted social contacts through Jabber compatible services like Gmail or LiveJournal.

Thanks to Mr. Searle for the interview. Read my interview with Justin Ouellette, CEO of Muxtape, another important player in the online music industry.

Lime Wire CEO Talks Music Industry & Company’s Future
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  • Andrew

    Limewire is wonderful in a lot of guises but, as I’m a songwriter, it remains a sore point as the peer 2 peer system is undermining my ability to earn a living from my work. Artistes are suffering as well but not as much as songwriters as they are able to gig live and still make a lot of money. So, hopefully, one day, the record companies along with MCPS-PRS alliance and the BPI will find a way to make sure the creators of these lovely songs and music get properly paid for the songs they create and re-educate society into realising that getting stuff for free is not acceptable, after all, even though you are getting a song for free by downloading it from a peer to peer computor system, you wouldn’t walk into a shop and steal a bar of chocolate because that is stealing just as downloading a song in that way is stealing, plain and simple.

  • Robin

    In the past, I would download a majority of my music using P2P. If I liked the band

  • Stephen

    I used to download a bit of music from P2P sources, when i listen to new stuff and like the band i normally buy the original C.D. The music industry has been making massive profits for years and screwing the artists and songwriters. Using sites like limewire allow people to try before they buy and new bands can find a source of free distribution for promotional benefits. Music that doesnt fit the normal playlist guidelines of radio and TV gets a chance to be heard without bands having to sign away thier souls to the recording industry, being used then thrown away when they dont fit the latest mould. New bands can gain a mass following without airplay time or being forced to adapt what they are doing to gain some. The sharing of music has and will always take place and in my view wont be stopped, most people go on to purchase anything they really like. And as mentioned earlier bands sell a lot of live gig tickets because people have had the chance to hear what they are about. I am not trying to rip anyone off by using P2P sites and through doing so spend a lot more on original C.Ds of new bands i hear and like.

  • http://msunil.info/myblog Sunil

    I think its the so called legal people who make up all the illegalities. But they do illegal thing too. For example, they are destroying the earth by making CD’s. We are destroying the earth by burning up resources. So I think, there is a need of practical thinking. So if any one says downloadin/ sharing is illegal, then ask the to gochew their hat as there is no difference between illegal downloaders and the cd/dvd companies or movie companies.

  • http://www.bluegirlroom.com Dani Santos

    I t sounds to me like Limewire has found a great niche. I wish them the best.

  • http://www.techknowl.com techknowl

    In earlier days , when internet was not popular in our area , I was forced to buy music Cd’s and records. But now I use Limewire to download music other files . I know that this really hurts the content producers , but its normal that people go for free stuff always .

  • http://ajseoservices.com Jyoti

    its closely observed that internet users are mostly fascinated by free stuff naturally ,why to pay when you get free downloading ?

  • http://www.macaucasino88.com/ Macau

    A Congressional hearing on Tuesday investigating inadvertent file sharing over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks unexpectedly put a spotlight on LimeWire Chairman Mark Gorton over the government and personal information that can be acquired over P2P networks without users’ knowledge. Gorton’s company makes the peer-to-peer software LimeWire. He is also CEO of the parent company, Lime Group.

  • Guest

    Everytime I downloaded Lime Wire I ended up with a bunch of viruses. Anyone else have this happen?

  • Dan

    I almost got caught up in all this file sharing myself. At first it was fun. Hey, I could get all this for free. Since then I kinda got thrown back into writing songs and even playing in various parts of the country. I have seen so many great and very talented artists and songwriters everywhere we have been.

    The problem with all this is. None of them can make any money. People have gotten so used to getting everything for free online now. That hardly anyone is willing to help out the ones creating the music to be able to do anymore. It literally costs thousands of dollars to go into a studio to record. Time is very expensive while recording.

    Then, you have to buy the CD’s, Prints, Copies and the bar codes along with the packaging for all those CD’s. Again right back into the thousands of dollars. Now, with everyone getting the songs for free. Nobody wants to buy the CD’s, because they already have it on all their computers. Phones, Ipod’s, and Mp3 players. Who needs to buy it? They have what they want.

    In the mean time the artist’s have lost literally thousands of dollars. Unless you are actually signed up with the major labels, you are stuck broke, with no other way of producing more music. Even though millions of people have your music and love it. Play it daily. You are not only the struggling musician, going hungry. But stuck working overtime trying to pay the bills in a little 2 bedroom apt, that hopefully you will make enough that month for to pay.

    Many people think that all these musicians got it made. When in reality most of them are struggling to get by. This is world wide.
    People wonder why the music is really starting to suck? It’s because nobody wants to pay for the good stuff anymore.

    Remember, You only get what you pay for. If you like the music buy it. Help out the artist. So they can continue give us some awesome music. If you don’t like it. Then leave it alone.

    Make sense?

    • http://www.myspace.com/bluesaffairs Guest

      i think you got the point
      for myself i do not use filesharing any more, i hear examples of music
      at myspace or internet radio, and there

    • Guest

      Here’s your problem…

      “It literally costs thousands of dollars to go into a studio to record. Time is very expensive while recording.

      Then, you have to buy the CD’s, Prints, Copies and the bar codes along with the packaging for all those CD’s. Again right back into the thousands of dollars.”

      The reason you are seeing red (both emotionally and economically) is you are trying to use old business practices. Studio’s cost a fortune… the problem is you assume they are needed. Why don’t you just record direct to digital from your home? If you think like the CD makers want you to you will spend thousands paying for CD’s you don’t need. Record from home, burn from home, sell at shows you line up for yourself and just skip the RIAA and all their middlemen. Talk with limewire about selling your album digitally for free. You never have to pay for a barcode, CD printing, or any of those other things that old business requires. New age, new way of making and getting music out.

      The killer of artists is obscurity, not recording costs… if you are unknown your records wont sell, and you wont make any money. Technology puts the power in your hands… both to reach more people than ever before… and market directly to consumers. Don’t fall into the trap of using out dated business practices.

      Good Luck!

      • Guest

        EDIT: “Talk with limewire about selling your album digitally for free.”

        Meant free as in it doesn’t cost you anything because you don’t have to make cd’s… not set the price at 0. Set the price at what you think your album/song will sell for… but don’t pay for plastic disks that you can really make for yourself anyways and that you don’t need to sell music online.

    • johnny r

      oh yeah I really find it hard to feel sorry for some of these “artist” who live in huge mansions, literally get away with murder and other crimes that
      people like me or you would be thrown in jail for in a N.Y. minute.
      Most new artist who have real talent will get their music bought because if they are good, people will pay to hear them and see them.
      Take a look at all these asswipes in the movie and recording industy. they all like like kings and live better than doctors or teachers. I’m sorry but only here, do actors and musicians get some kind of Royal treatment as if they are Gods. well you know what? none of them will ever go broke in our lifetime unless they piss it all away on drugs or stupidity. It cost less than 1 dollar to make a CD. yet they charge us 19.99. We have been ripped off for years. its about time we get some payback. Download everything you can !!!! software,music, movies, anything you want. I will never shed a tear for these bums and neither should you.

  • http://www.typemock.com Jo

    I remember Limewire from back in the day, when they had lots of spyware included in the program, and no option to uninstall it (my 6 Y/O PC still has limewire data, which I am unable to delete).

    I know that the company has realy changed in the last couple of years, but they should realy change their name, if they want to “delete” the mistakes of the past …

    • Chris Crum

      They do have an established brand that a lot of people are used to, including those who view it in a positive light.

  • Margaret

    It’s unfortunate that LimeWire continues to exist. It alone has taken an exorbitant amount of money away from songwriters and musicians who invest hard work and thousands of dollars into creating and distributing their songs, only to have LimeWire allow people to get it for free (not to mention many files on the service come peppered with viruses). LimeWire de-values music. They don’t care about musicians, they care about making money. Perhaps the same could be said about record labels, but at least the labels invest huge sums of money into the musicians they discover and promote.

    • Nick

      I know some people jump to this conclusion but it does not hold up. The record companies have taken a huge cut of any revenue from artists. If anything, the general increase in concert revenues can be at least partly the result of file sharing and more music being shared and played.

  • Guest

    Too bad limewire no longer works for most of its users…. it no longer connects and they will not help when anyone asks for help. People are just going to uninstall it now. Maybe the CEO should address that.

    • Guest

      I know that really sucks ass *

  • Guest

    Its a hard delima to understand from all the laws that have been established over the years. As a lime wire user I have found that I can find mainstream music easier than newer artists. I also pay for my music from emusic.com on my cell phone. There are laws that prohibit us to share content that I have already bought? This is crazy, and what about all that news about cancelled music. This should be a contract agreement. (when you download shared music, it will only play for so long) I remember that I have downloaded music in the past and I burned it to a CD. Then it only worked for a couple of weeks, after that it stopped playing. These are issues that people have to work on, and I find it hard to believe that you haven’t recieved something for free just to coax you into buying the full product. It is a hard issue to deal with these days and I suggest that we, not them as subjective work on the issue to solve everyones problems…* crap I feel like Obama!

  • David

    I have been using file sharing apps since the days of Napster, and now use various different methods such as BitTorrent LimeWire which make it even easier than before to get stuff. What I can’t understand is why people have been listening to music for free on TV or radio for decades but doing it over the Internet is still illegal. I mostly blame the stupid money hungry RIAA for the situation and their insistence on having control over the music industry, but most of the many companies with file sharing services are also to blame.

    People are able to listen to songs on the radio for or by free-to-air TV stations for free. There are no subscription costs and no fees for every song or TV show/movie/music video you listen to or watch. While it is true that you don’t get a copy of the content to listen to again at a later time, people have still been getting around this with tape recorders and disc burners for years. Now adays several TV stations and radio stations also stream their content over the Internet, and just as with TV and radio, there are ways to record it to playback later.

    File sharing does work differently of course in that most audio or video files that are shared over the net are rips from CDs or DVDs, rather than being recorded from streamed content. This shouldn’t really matter though as long as the files are free of malware and DRM, are of decent quality and are correctly labelled as many files found on file sharing networks are not. I have heard of several artists stating that they are more annoyed by their music being mis-labelled rather than the money they don’t get through CD sales. A search for some artists on LimeWire for example will come up with names of songs that were not performed or written at all by the artist they have been attributed to in it’s filename or tag data, while the correct artist doesn’t get the recognition they deserve.

    The way that most commercial radio and TV stations make money is through advertising. They then pay the movie and music companies licencing fees and so on for the use of that content on their station. Why can’t file sharing work the same way? It has been proven many times over that Internet advertising can make just as much money as TV advertising can for a TV station. Napster itself made bucketloads in it’s early days through the various ad banners that were included on their site and in their software. Why did it never occur to them to simply pay the RIAA licencing fees and make it legal for the users of the software while still being able to turn over a profit and keeping the artists happy with continued income?

    The RIAA and related organisations continue to target individuals and companies that are involved in file sharing, and for every one of those that they bring down, more of them appear in their place. Suing them will not stop the so-called piracy, it will only bring more attention to their greed and stupidity. iTunes should be free, and if it ever becomes free, then it will be the best change to the music industry for a long time as it will make it so much easier for people to get music they want while allowing artists to have more freedom in recording and distributing music on their own…

  • http://www.newestladygagasong.com Newest Lady Gaga Song

    I truly do think that someday that will happen. Video downloads are ALLOWED and kids are not needing the album and single downloads. Instead, they get their music through the video. Long gone are the days of CD’s, folks. I don’t even know how those stores stay in business.

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