to music file-sharing
change of biblical proportions
In certain circles they call me Reverend Napster.
Can't argue, ardent apologist that I am for any service that provides
electronic transfers of nearly any song I've ever or never
It began as a musical question from a few devoted
converts: "How come you don't use Napster?" Next was neighbor Dave,
family man, about my vintage, between jobs and time on his side.
Ran into each other out front. "I'm downloading the Beatles," he
said, "A-to-Z. Never been their biggest fan, but everything's there
for the taking. I just got hooked up to cable and songs come in
faster than I can play 'em."
Hey, some hard-earned spare time had come my way, too. Plus a computer
with 56K modem and CD burner. A whompin' new stereo, too.
And that, dear brethren, spells genesis …
And so it was. I headed straight for the Prince extended
versions and club mixes (my logistically challenged vinyl collection
lives in a Minnesota basement) and stumbled onto droves of
stuff I never knew existed. A short trip from there to cover versions;
live versions, too.
Meanwhile, I never knew Bjork, while with the Sugarcubes, recorded
Gling-Glo, a torchy jazz LP for the Icelandic market suddenly
I own it! A festive Feliciano Christmas album I'd sought since the
'70s got that too!
In between I grabbed anything and everything I could think of,
deleting songs that didn't do the trick. Sure, some transfers cut
off. And a few had annoying blips when burned to CD and pushed through
those serious new speakers. But that was a small percentage.
Only big problem was that danged 56K modem. Downloads took 20 to
40 minutes or more. The sun came up during several sessions
as my breadcrumb trail bounced from here to there and back. But
sleep could wait. And I, on a mission, fervently collected novelty
tunes for mom (Slim Gaillard's "Cement Mixer" was a real prize)
and songs I remember my sister liking way back when.
Then, with head full of steam and CDs burned to the brim, home
I went for the holidays. Family and friends marveled at my zeal
and my collection. Mom loved her disc. Sis showed more enthusiasm
regarding anything other than her kid than I'd seen in years
she actually squealed! Was it the opening strains of the Grass Roots'
"Temptation Eyes?" Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon"?
"Gypsy Woman," by Brian Hyland?
I don't remember and it might have been all three.
Me? Couldn't wait to get back to Portland and call for cable. I
felt the power the very next day.
Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck, Lester Young, Ben Webster. Peter
Schilling's "Major Tom" -- hit version, German version, extended
remix, too. Thirty Teddy Pendergrass songs abridged into one 80-minute
dream disc. Joni Mitchell? Spearhead? Ed Kuepper? English Beat?
Same. Soon, my hard drive held a thousand songs …
… We live amid a sea change of biblical proportions. The record
companies, arrogant as ever, fell asleep while some college kids
dreamed up Napster the type of service the companies could
have exploited instead of expecting their lawyers to stop.
Ever since Thomas Edison and the dawn of recording, the companies
have pimped the public and ambushed the artists lately to
the tune of $17.99 per 25-cent plastic disc. Now entire catalogues
are out there: Replacements, Nirvana, Sinatra, Elvis, Tori, PJ,
Ani, Eminem. European artists with squiggles above their vowels.
And, at least for the moment, it's free!
Music file-sharing, along with state-of-the-art home recording
and other evolving technology, may signal record-company obsolescence
and create a smaller cash cow with the behemoths aced out
and artists splitting the lion's share from much more modest spoils.
Instead of next-to-nothing from up-till-now's obscene pot of gold.
far it's the tip of the iceberg. And some will always prefer store-bought
music. But to see the big picture is to understand that the world
will forever crave and pay for music. And file-sharing
pushes toward something inevitable. Maybe artists will sell their
songs to music-sharing services and we'll pay $4.99 or $9.99 a month
for all the instant music we'd ever want (but don't make it too
expensive or a black market will thrive).
Nevertheless, something huge is happening. I say hallelujah and