Meet the CD Factory Worker Who Brought Down the Music Business
Did you ever stop to wonder exactly how that copy of Kanye West's College Dropout you downloaded actually ended up on LimeWire in the first place? That is, how the music actually got from inside the recording studio to your headphones, without once gracing the racks at your local Walmart?
A New Yorker deep-dive from their upcoming April 27 issue reveals the answer: One lowly North Carolina CD plant worker, who smuggled CDs out of the factory under his belt buckle, uploaded them to an online network that the magazine calls "the most sophisticated piracy operation in history."
The far-reaching effects of Bennie Lydell Glover's rip-and-upload activities include forcing Eminem to shift the release date of The Eminem Show, which went on to be the best-selling album of the year, and influencing the outcome of the 2007 sales feud between Kanye West and 50 Cent.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg -- between 2001 and his arrest in 2007, Glover snuck thousands of the hottest new releases out of the factory and made them easily available for free to the tens of millions of users on peer-to-peer file sharing sites like Napster, Kazaa and LimeWire. In the same time period, the music industry, relying on the CD sales that Glover's activities diminished, started to crumble itself, beginning a trend of staggering losses that has only flattened out in recent years.
For all the millions of dollars Glover cost the music industry, he served only three months in prison once he was caught -- a concession, perhaps, to the inevitability of technology's sway over music. If it wasn't Glover, presumably, it would have been someone else.
Don't be tempted to paint Glover as a simple thief, however -- the article describes his gutsy, ingenious method for moving CDs out of the plant, and his side business in bootlegging uploaded movies and video games that led him to create, in the mid-2000s, "a private Netflix [running] out of his house."
Read the New Yorker article for the entire riveting story.