The Public Enemy mainman spells out his vision of the future at NME.COM's NetSounds conference...

PUBLIC ENEMY‘ figurehead CHUCK D has predicted that within two years there will be “a million record labels” thanks to the Internet.

Speaking at NME.COM’s NetSounds conference in London this afternoon (May 2), Chuck D outlined what he saw as a three-tier future for the music industry with countless small names providing a worldwide base, filtering up to independent label releases and then onto big league with major labels.

“When the industry digitised in the 80s they let the genie out of the bottle,” he said. “And the bottle has now shattered into millions and millions of little pieces.”

A long-time advocate of file-sharing applications like Napster, Chuck D said major labels (the “big monsters”) had to stop trying and wipe out MP3 files and realise that their march was inevitable and should be embraced.

“The labels need to see that trying to fight MP3s is trying to shout at a thunderstorm, it’s going to happen, you’ve got to come up with ways adapt to it, and make it work for everybody,” he said.

Illustrating the unstoppable momentum of the web, Chuck described the difference in the way he was viewed in the short time since he started his website and web-based radio station.

“Three years ago people thought I was mad. Two years ago I was sued. Last year I was seen as a parasite and within two years the majors will be talking to me as an equal.”

He also used the platform to slate Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich for his relentless pursuit of fans who used Napster to swap Metallica MP3 files.

“He’s just greedy and ridiculous,” he said. “Obviously they’re fans. I bet every one of those 300,000 names has bought at least one Metallica album. They’re contributing somewhere. In the US it costs at least $85 for a ticket to a Metallica show. How much do they [Metallica] want? How fucking greedy can you be?”

Chuck finished with a word of caution, saying that he saw subscriptions for some downloads were inevitable, but he added that labels had be realistic about the amount people were willing to spend.