Lime Wire’s Plans for Working with the Music Industry

    December 12, 2009
    Chris Crum

Earlier this year, we spoke with Lime Wire CEO George Searle about the music industry and the company’s future, as it offers one of the most widely used file sharing services. Now we have engaged in a Q&A with Zeeshan Zaidi, who came to Lime Wire as the company’s Head of Global in July, with a background as a record label executive, a musician, and a lawyer.

WebProNews: We’re told the LimeWire software has been translated into Arabic and will soon be translated into Persian, while the software and website are translated into a total of 23 languages. How are languages chosen and what does this means for the global peer to peer community?
Zeeshan Zaidi: LimeWire has over 50 million users and they are located in virtually every country on the planet.  Ideally, we would love to have LimeWire’s software and website available in every language so all our users could enjoy LimeWire in their native tongues.  To that end, we "crowdsourced" the translation of our software, through the LimeWire Open Source Project, giving users the ability to translate the client into their own languages. This has been a great success and we hope to continue to add languages this way.  In addition, we have supplemented these efforts with professional translation, especially of the website.
Zeeshan Zaidi Languages are prioritized based on the size of the total internet population that speaks a given language, as well as the total LimeWire population of native speakers of a language that are currently using our software in English.  For example, we already had many users throughout the Middle East and North Africa using LimeWire in English, but with the addition of an Arabic translation, we can now make LimeWire accessible to entire online populations of the countries in the region — we’re very excited about this. With the next release in December, we are adding Korean, Greek, Norwegian and Persian to our list of translated languages. With each additional language, we connect more corners of the world to our network.
Sometimes our objectives when choosing languages go beyond reaching the most users — Persian is an example of this.  When the Iranian post-election protest movement was gathering steam last summer, and the Iranian government was blocking the flow of coverage and information about the protests, Lime Wire took action.  We didn’t take a stance on the elections themselves, but we are firmly committed to facilitating the free flow of information and strongly opposed to these forms of government censorship.  We featured video clips from the protests on our software’s home page, and encouraged users throughout the world to download and spread the videos.  However, at the time LimeWire did not have a Persian translation so we made that a priority. Coincidentally, Iranian activists have recently approached us letting us know that they want to be able to use LimeWire to share files amongst themselves and circumvent their government’s attempts to block their communications.  Again, while we are politically neutral, we will always take the side of internet and information freedom.
WPN: We’re told the latest version of the LimeWire software (5.3) improves BitTorrent performance, adds selective-downloading and file-prioritization within the torrent, and faster startup. Can you tell us a little bit about the release and what is on tap for future releases?
ZZ: With every new release of LimeWire we add new features that are exciting to our users.  We added BitTorrent functionality at the beginning of this year because there was a lot of demand for this, and we have been enhancing these capabilities with every release.  So LimeWire users can now share files through the BitTorrent protocol in addition to the Gnutella network.  The adoption rate of version 5.3 has been great and we are very pleased with the results.
In the next release — 5.4 — we’re going to be adding additional features such as a video player and even better BitTorrent features.  It is our goal to continue to innovate on the software front and continue to provide our users with the best features.
WPN: It sounds like the LimeWire Store plays a key role in the future of LimeWre. Can you tell us about some of the plans for that?

Lime Wire

ZZ: Many people don’t realize that in addition to developing file sharing software Lime Wire also operates a music store. LimeWire Store has over 4 million tracks available for sale a la carte or through a subscription service.  All tracks are fully licensed from record labels and music publishers.  Currently, the store is only available in the US.
There is a tremendous opportunity in expanding the nature and breadth of the offering of LimeWire Store and rolling it out internationally. We’re working towards launching a new paid subscription music service. We plan to couple this with other ways to monetize the user experience. This plan has tremendous potential for the industry, and if successful, will put lots of money into the hands of copyright owners.  Lime Wire is serious about this mission: we are in talks with the entire music industry to make it happen.  We’ve also assembled a team of talented and experienced media and technology executives so we can deliver on this vision.
WPN: You arrived at Lime Wire after working with Sony BMG, Arista and RCA overseeing online marketing and running digital business initiatives, as well as being a musician and an attorney. Can you discuss how your background influences your decisions at Lime Wire?
ZZ: As we’re planning the expansion of our store and the rollout of the new music service, my perspective is definitely informed by my background as an attorney, musician, and former record label executive. I care that consumers are provided with the best music search, discovery, sharing, and listening experience that takes advantage of cutting edge technology to give our users what they want when they want it.
As Lime Wire prepares for the launch of our new subscription music service, these are the company’s objectives and we’re determined to work in conjunction with the music industry to achieve them.
WPN: A representative for Lime Wire tells us file sharing is not about a battle between file sharers and the music industry, and that technology companies such as Lime Wire can work with labels and publishers to build and deploy services that consumers will like. How do you see this developing?
ZZ: Although there’s currently a lot of heated public debate about file sharing I do not view it as battle between file sharers and the music industry.  I have no negative feelings towards the music establishment.  Quite the contrary: I respect the magnitude of challenges that they are facing, because I used to tackle them myself.  It’s not easy to protect a revenue base coming from content when digitization is changing the way your consumers interact with and consume it.   My belief, though, is that technology companies such as Lime Wire can work with record labels and publishers to build and deploy services that consumers will love. One way of accomplishing this is through rolling out the music service that I describe above.
WebProNews would like to thank Zeeshan for sharing his responses with our readers. What do you think of Lime Wire’s future plans? Comment here.

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