Sunday, March 26, 2006

The times they are a changin'
- Bob Dylan
I remember when I got my first computer about 10 years ago. I had a lousy dial up that would take you an hour to download a page, you couldn't watch streaming video and couldn't listen to streaming audio without 4,000 interruptions. It was also during this period that I discovered Napster. Remember Napster? I managed to download 800 songs with a dialup! Now that's dedication. You can imagine the time and effort that went into that feat. Anyway, one bright day I decided I should really invest in a cable modem. Two days later I was online. What used to take 3 hours for one song NOW took 20 seconds. I couldn't believe my eyes (nor my ears). Soon, I had 10,000 songs. I bought new surround sound speakers and a new sound card and there was a concert at my house 24 hours a day! My neighbors hate me.
Then they outlawed Napster. So I switched to Kazaa where I have been ever since. I don't understand the whole uproar over file sharing. Why is file sharing illegal but if I wanted to come to your home, borrow all your CD's, tape them and bring them back to you THAT is perfectly legal? Why can I purchase USED CD's on and eBay and 10,000 similar websites but I can't download these same songs onto my computer? When you resell a used CD, the music industry isn't getting any money from THAT transaction either. Just yesterday I was in the city in a used CD store. They must have had 200,000 used CD's. It was wall to wall used cd's. Nobody but the proprietor of the store is making money off the transactions completed within his store, so what's the difference with file sharing? It's simply a new technology. Instead of getting in my car and driving to your house to borrow and record your CD collection, I can NOW simply go online and "drive" to your house through the internet and "borrow" your CD collection.
The major misunderstanding with file sharing is that all 1,000,000 songs are stored on some huge server and you simply log onto this particular server and download the songs from there. That's not how it works. You sign up for the file sharing service and when you log onto the website, your computer is connected to every other computer on the service. You are NOT taking songs from some huge cache of songs all located in one spot (that, I agree, would be wrong). You are connecting to whichever persons computer happens to have the particular song (or movie) you are looking for. In order for this song to show up on ones computer, someone had to purchase the original CD and upload it to their computer. These songs don't just magically appear outta nowhere. Someone had to spend the money to buy the CD. Just because the access to "get to the persons house" to record their CD collection has changed is NOT the consumers fault. Technology changes at a rapid rate these days, especially when it comes to computers. It is simply a new technology that allows me to come to your house and tape your cd collection via the internet.
I can understand that if you take these songs and resell them on the street how that could be deemed "stealing" but you can't tape someone's CD collection and sell that either. As long as you are recording them for personal use, it's legal. So where is the problem? The problem is that the music industry hasn't come to terms with the fact that technology changes and that they put out any old piece of shit and sell it for $15.00. Back in the 70's, you could buy a record and count on the fact that the artist actually cared enough about their music not to sell their fans total shit. I wish I had been around in the 70's to appreciate the music of the time. Just look at every Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd album as examples. EVERY song on EVERY album they dropped in a 10 year period was quality. The same doesn't apply anymore. You can go blow $15.00 on a cd and find that there are only one or two viable songs on it. Is that fair? The music industry and the artists themselves have become completely greed obsessed and fuck the consumer, he or she will just have to buy our crap. Well not anymore. If I download an album and it sucks, I delete it and there's not a chance I'm gonna waste my hard earned cash on it in the store. HOWEVER....if I download an album and it's actually GOOD, I will go to the store and purchase it (I just ordered 10 CD's from Amazon yesterday). The consumer has simply leveled the playing field. Put out decent shit and it'll sell. Put out shit and rip off the consumer and we'll take our revenge.
To date I have so many songs I can't count. I listen to them in the privacy of my home and in my car. I don't sell them and I have no desire to sell them. I also don't make CD's for friends. If they ever completely outlaw filesharing (I don't see how they will. Shut down one service and 10 pop up in its place) I will never buy another CD as long as I live. The music industry makes bazillions of dollars each year. And I've seen MTV cribs, non of these artists seem to be on the street starving. Maybe they couldn't buy their 10th Bentley or their 100th diamond encrusted (completely absurd) platinum jesus piece because of the file sharing programs. Tough shit. My heart bleeds for you. Main stream music sucks these days anyway. MTV has ruined music. If it's played on the radio or on MTV it gets zero play in my house.
File sharing has also allowed me to diversify my music collection and to appreciate music I would never before have listened to because I would never have spent the $15.00 to purchase a cd from a group I had never heard. Now I can simply download their music and decide for myself whether or not I wish to spend my money on their product. There's alot of quality music out there (you just gotta go looking for it) and file sharing allows me to find and appreciate this music without going broke in the process.