Exclusive: LimeWire CEO Responds to ‘After-Party’ Controversy

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This is one shindig you might not forget.

Ahead of the Digital Music Forum in New York, a LimeWire-hosted after-party on Thursday evening is stirring serious controversy, and even drawing a very public ‘will not attend’ from A2IM chief Rich Bengloff.

Now, LimeWire CEO George Searle is preparing to publish a response to Bengloff and the broader A2IM, one that focuses on licensing, legitimate sales opportunities, and openness to new ideas.  LimeWire and Searle agreed to share the response with Digital Music News ahead of its broader publication, scheduled to happen later this morning.  “LimeWire is working diligently with labels, publishers and artists to introduce a full range of commercial services that harness, rather than alienate, music fans,” Searle offered.

The letter attempts to steer away from controversy, and soothe some deeply ruffled feathers.  “Our partners have come to share our belief that the challenge of generating revenue in the digital world will require a more thoughtful process as well as a more sensitive, respectful, approach to consumers than has yet been brought to market.”

Bengloff would beg to differ, largely because LimeWire is a major hub for unauthorized distribution.  “Creators of music and the music labels that invest in that creation should be compensated for their music unless the content owner or artist decides, at his or her discretion, to discount or give away that music for a window of time,” Bengloff stated as part of his public retort.

But Searle pointed to the LimeWire Store, a parallel service that currently offers five million tracks for sale (either through a-la-carte or subscription).  In its most literal sense, that commerce attempt is ‘competing with free,’ within the same company, though LimeWire is attempting to transform the behavior of its engaged user base.  Sound far-fetched?  “One of the most valuable purposes of these conferences is to bring together parties in this space with divergent viewpoints and work together towards resolution of differences,” Searle continued.  “For those of you attending [Digital Music Forum East], we look forward to meeting with you personally, sharing our plans and hearing your ideas.  We also look forward to your joining us for the party at our offices on Thursday evening.”