The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. The irony was delicious this weekend listening to Rick Dees’ Weekly Top-40 radio show, though it’s doubtful Mr. Dees understood the joke on the eve of Napster’s death.Dees is no college DJ, spinning alternative platters and thumbing his nose at the labels. Dees is a warrior for the music industry, enjoying a cozy relationship with the establishment that allows him to pepper his show with endorsements from today’s top pop bands. They plug his show (even interrupting their own songs to do so), and he returns the favour with heavy rotation of the big hits. How strange, then, on Sunday to hear one of Dees’ trademark "news" items feature a backlash against one artist’s label. Seems the label won’t publish the singer’s song as a single, something the fans are anxious for. They’ve picketed the label’s premises, determined to force it to "listen to the fans." Dees was oblivious to the subtle joke, all sympathetic ears for the pop star and her followers. The fans, of course, have an option to hear whatever music they want, whenever they want. Napster empowers listeners to bypass the Byzantine distribution and promotion system by which Dees makes his living by establishing a direct – albeit unpaid – link to their favourite musical artist. Not all fans are doing this, but the ranks are swelling with a generation of pop music fans who were raised on the ‘Net and are now discovering what’s possible with broadband speeds. Napster, of course, will soon be replaced with something a little harder to hunt and kill, and fewer and fewer fans will give two figs for what the labels decide. Peer-to-peer networks and new capabilities to share cataloguing chores between users will result in a new, de-centralized way to distribute MP3 format music away from the prying eyes of authorities. A record label is only one paradigm to create and distribute music. Rick Dees might want to consider switching careers before the digital tide washes him out to sea.