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Alas, Poor Napster, I Knew Him

July 5th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

I remember Napster. The real Napster. I found it just in time before the RIAA started flooding the service with junk MP3s and folks had to get real creative with their band name spelling to pass filters. I maybe downloaded 50 songs altogether, none of which I still have anymore. Most of the songs I was trying to find after I had heard them on the radio, and maybe wanted to hear something else by the artist or the same song again before I committed to buying a whole CD. I was in junior high at the time, and plopping down $15 on anything was a big investment at the time.

Remember when this logo was cool? Hello, 14-year-old Dan.

Remember when this logo was cool? Hello, 14-year-old Dan.

Digital file quality has gotten a lot better since then. iTunes has driven down the cost of albums (while individual song costs have gone up). I have since paid for digital files through eMusic, iTunes, Amazon, and directly from artists like Radiohead. Pandora and earlier streaming services still provide the opportunity to hear tons of new bands and also pay for subscription service (the model Napster now follows). The biggest way I financially support the artists that I enjoy is by GOING TO BLOODY CONCERTS.

Seriously, if anyone really wants to support the artists they enjoy, go to a show. If you pay $10 for an album, you know how much money actually goes to the band? $1, maybe $2 if they’re lucky. Probably less than that depending on the label or the music service. If you pay $12 or $15 or $20 or $25 for a show, they’re going to get three or four times that amount. That’s where the money is in the music industry nowadays. No one’s going to sell 10 million copies of an album (probably) like they used to, in fact hitting 1 or 2 million if you’re not Kanye is pretty much out of reach.

With even newer direct funding sources like Kickstarter people are having an unprecedented connection to the artists they enjoy to directly fund the creation of more music. Huge mainstream musicians like Beck are putting out music through printed sheet music, opening up the opportunity for thousands of people around the world to interpret his songs and put them out on videos or MP3s or perform them live. The music industry is still around, the artists are still around, Napster didn’t kill anyone.

It bothered me then and it bothers me now, why is it Dr. Dre and Metallica who yelled the loudest about being damaged by Napster, when they already had MILLIONS of dollars? Need a few million more boys? Even harder to sympathize with these 1%ers in our post-Occupy world.

Enough about me waxing on about my personal journeys through the music industry and my annoyances with the super rich. I haven’t really talked about the movie much. Here’s what you need to know: it’s a great postmortem on the internet digital music and P2P revolution. Napster took the bullet for iTunes to make Apple incredibly wealthy and powerful, and for all sorts of other great P2P follow. The movie surprisingly doesn’t touch on Napster’s new life as a subscription service, consequently sold by Best Buy to Rhapsody.

Anyway, if you’re like me and were an early adopter of music through the interwebs, you should see this movie. There, that about says it.

—I don’t mind taking a nap, sir, dan

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