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"I am proud of what you do and I’ve been profoundly grateful to be working in an industry that brings so much pleasure to so many people."
——Hilary Rosen, RIAA Chairman/CEO, in her NARM keynote speech
NARM OPENS UP WITH SPEECHES, KEYNOTE
Horovitz, Rosen Welcome Troops, Blast Piracy, Urge Staying the Course
Retail gathered in Orlando this week, looking to avoid Mickey Mouse and find some magic.

The last spring edition of NARM—before it moves to August next year—officially started this morning with Opening Session speeches by NARM President Pam Horovitz, Chairman David Schlang and keynote speaker, out-going RIAA President Hilary Rosen.

Horovitz' opening remarks included the obvious talking points of piracy and illegal file-sharing being bad, supporting copyrights being good. And if educating consumers doesn't work, enforcement and litigation are the logical alternatives, commenting: "During any long journey, one must lose sight of the familiar shores before finding a new land." The NARM ruler’s closing remarks were "don't abandon ship," referring to the music business in general and to the NARM association in specific.

Horovitz was followed by a performance that absolutely galvanized the packed auditorium by Republic/Universal's Swedish rockers Soundtrack of Our Lives, who had the normally soporific crowd cheering wildly at 10 in the morning. They played locally on Saturday night, and repeated the feat this morning.

Alliance Entertainment's Schlang recapped the past year succinctly: "2002 sucked big time. But now it's over and it's 2003." No one disagreed with his assessment of the calendar.

Rosen was then presented with NARM's Harry Chapin Memorial Humanitarian Award for her many philanthropic endeavors. She talked about anti-piracy efforts being a waste of time if consumers are not served in the marketplace. She heralded the return of singles (a NARM mantra this year). She said she believed that new configurations were about to be adopted by consumers, but cautioned against a format war between SACD and DVD-A. She applauded the Music Coalition public awareness ads as well as Clear Channel's own awareness campaign. Rosen then launched into her views on piracy and her fight with what she called "piracy apologists."

"Don't be ashamed of protecting our rights. People do not have the right to steal." She told the crowd that twice as many pirated CDs were confiscated this year as compared to last, when the RIAA teamed with the Secret Service to raid an operation in Queens, N.Y., that could have cost the industry some $100 million in lost revenues. The RIAA has allocated another $2 million to the enforcement effort. Rosen also repeated the RIAA's will to litigate when necessary, teaming with the MPAA against KaZaa as well as the case against Verizon: "Give us those ISPs. When people open up their hard drive to a peer-to-peer server, they gave up their privacy voluntarily. We didn't take it from them." The RIAA chief argued that, while the consensus is the record industry we will never again be a single format business, CDs will continue to be a vital product.

Rosen concluded that "music remains incredibly important in people’s lives, is uniquely positioned to grow with broadband access and is a uniquely portable form of entertainment…

"I believe success is possible. You can make it possible. Don’t listen to the naysayers and the carpers. It will continue to take hard work and energy and optimism. Believe in yourself and each other. I am not here glossing over the frustration that we are all feeling. Sometimes during times of seeming uncertainty, it’s best to return to the basics. For us, that’s simple strategies to give the customer what they want and stopping the bad guys as best we can.

"I am proud of what you do and I’ve been profoundly grateful to be working in an industry that brings so much pleasure to so many people… To all of you here, let me just say that, while this may be my last speech at a NARM convention, I will know what you are up to because I am a music fan. And I have faith in you."

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