The word “free” has different contexts. Free beer is different from free speech and free music was never really free. In the late 1990s I was a casual music pirate. I used Internet Relay Chat to navigate the really geeky text based chat service that had become a file sharing service. I used IRC to grab many of the tracks I put on my Women That Rock and Women That Rock Too mix CDs. As file sharing became more and more prevalent, I began looking for newer things.
At first, peoples’ shared libraries were just mish-mashes of random tracks. Then they got bigger and bigger and more organized. With the right commands on IRC, you could download peoples’ entire playlists and browse through them like a checklist. I would be stunned to find some with over a thousand songs with capacities in the gigabytes. In 1999 that was a lot of storage.
File sharing soon changed from being a treasure hunt to tidal wave. There was more music out there than any single person could ever listen to. I made it a sort of game. I would go looking for a particular artist or genre, the more obscure the better.
While not particularly obscure, I had a passing interest in the Beastie Boys but wasn’t about to buy multiple albums just to get a few tracks. I got some of my younger hipper coworkers to come up with a list of their favorite tracks and I went hunting. Soon I had a seventeen song playlist that I got from a couple of sources. Shortly afterwards, the Beasties put out a 2-disc 42 track compilation. I like my more selective list better. The only song I have missing from The Sounds of Science is “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”, a pretty serious omission on their part. Besides, eighty minutes of Beasties is plenty.
I can date exactly when I became jaded with file swapping. I knew Midnite Vultures a new Beck album was coming out. I decided to see how long it took for the entire album to show up on IRC to measure just how fast the piracy system was working. The official release date was November 16, 1999. Even I was stunned with how efficient the pirates were. There was a full rip of the advance promotional copy available two weeks early. How was a record company supposed to compete when their product is available on the internet before it’s in the stores? That is a rhetorical question they still haven’t figured out.
That is when I realized that pirating music was just shooting fish in a barrel. I quit downloading full albums. If I wanted to listen to an entire album I should want to be willing to spend something on it. When everything is free, nothing has a value.
I leave you with two Beastie songs to keep your body movin'. Just don’t steal the tunes.
|Beastie Boys-Three MC's And One DJ||Beastie Boys-Alive|
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Where do you get your music?