NYT Feels Music Industry Pain

“If it was as easy as it looks, everyone would do it.” These words may best describe some of the early pain being felt by the New York Times as it struggles to adjust the rules, technology and concept of its, about-to-begin March 28, paywall. And although the music industry is just an onlooker in this info-tug-of-war, no doubt music leaders can see a close parallel to their own industry.

A loophole purposely built into the NYT system has already backfired. NYT decided that links from  Twitter and Facebook should get free passage through the paywall and be able to exceed the 20 item limit per month imposed on non-subscribers. Search links would get five items per day. The thinking seems sound, since these social networking/search links are responsible for directing large amounts of traffic to the newspaper website.

Enter new Twitter feed @freeNYTimes. The feed tweets a link to every story published on nytimes.com. This allows readers to easily surf around and through the paywall, avoiding its restrictions. According to a Forbes.com story, NYT has already asked Twitter to shut down the new feed. At press the feed has 562 followers and explains itself by saying, “NYTimes articles as they’re published. Read more than your 20 articles/month allotment, because you came from Twitter! Data provided by The New York Times.”

A second similar twitter feed has already sprouted at @timeswiretap. It now has 92 followers.

Another widely reported NYT hack was created by a Canadian blogger in just four lines of code and bears the name, NYTClean. The site is already experiencing a massive slowdown due to a rash of unexpectedly high visitor traffic.

NYTClean coder David Hayes sums up the problem saying, “Wow, I’ve gotten tens of thousands of hits since this went up yesterday, especially considering this was a lunchtime project — You just can’t see a wall like this without wondering how you can get around it. I love the New York Times, don’t say that I forced you to not pay for it.”

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David M. Ross has been covering Nashville's music industry for over 25 years. [email protected]

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