Downloaded: The SXSW Interview
The revolutionary promise of digital music became reality with the rise of Napster. The file sharing network pioneered a functional and comprehensive catalog of music with its enthusiastic users. Developed by then-teenaged Shawn Fanning in 1998, Napster became a worldwide phenomenon in less than a year. Co-founder Sean Parker helped develop Napster into a company. Mass acceptance came quickly, but legal challenges ultimately doomed the original service. Despite the controversy and lawsuits, Napster changed the music business and paved the way for iTunes, Rhapsody, Spotify and other music services. The divide between the cultural establishment and technology innovators was defined by the disputes raised by Napster. After more than a decade of declining sales of recorded music and imperfect attempts to present a licensed alternative, the influence of Napster continues to be felt.
Alex Winter began his career as a child actor, with starring roles on Broadway and then in several feature films, including the BILL AND TED franchise and Warner Bros. THE LOST BOYS.
As a writer/director, Alex co-created and starred in the hit MTV comedy series, THE IDIOT BOX, and then co-directed and starred in his theatrical debut, FREAKED, released by Twentieth Century Fox; followed by FEVER, released by Lionsgate Films, which was an Official Selection at Cannes. Alongside his feature projects, Alex maintains a busy career directing commercials and music videos.
Currently, Alex is directing DOWNLOADED, a feature-length documentary about the digital revolution, for VH1 Rock Docs. Interview subjects include Napster co-founders Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, as well as numerous musicians and industry executives.
Shawn Fanning is an entrepreneur and investor. In 1998 he developed Napster, which changed the music industry. In 2001, Napster was shut down after a court order. Following Napster, Shawn worked on a number of early-stage technology startups, including Snocap, Rupture, and Path. Currently he has reunited with Sean Parker to create a new start up called Airtime, which will be launching soon.
Sean Parker is an entrepreneur with a record of launching
genre-defining companies that reinvent ways to spread information
In 1999, at the age of 19, Sean co-founded Napster and changed how
people think about and share music. Two years later, Sean co-founded
Plaxo, pioneering viral engineering technology for updating contact
information. Sean served as Plaxo’s president until 2004, when he
joined with Mark Zuckerberg to develop the online social network
Facebook. Sean was Facebook’s founding president, helping transform
that small start-up into an industry giant. In 2007, Sean co-founded
Causes, which promotes on-line philanthropy; in 2010, he joined
Airtime as a co-founder, reuniting with Napster co-founder Shawn
Fanning at a social video company backed by Founders Fund.