“The Day Music Was Set Free”

In the summer of 1999 two college kids, Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, changed the music industry forever – via the internet. At the press of a button the coding duo made their peer-to-peer file sharing service, called Napster, live and the nature of music distribution was reformed. The user-friendly site allowed for people from across the globe to upload their own MP3 files and then share them – for free, a phenomena that consumers loved and record labels hated. Napster did not live for very long before legal battles against musicians and their management ensued. However, its affect on the industry never died out – from its impact on how we consume music, digital versus hardcopies, the software it lends to applications like iTunes and Spotify, to its influence on modern legislation for music and the internet.

Although, I was only five at the time of the birth of Napster, its lasting effects have come to influence my listening and consumption habits. The Napster era has always been of great interest to me, especially now as I am able to fully understand how the site was essentially a decentralized platform for information sharing – an idea that the counter cultures of the 1960s had hoped would be realized online one day. Napster aimed to act as a platform for community and exploration and I can’t help but wonder what potential they could have fulfilled had the legal system collaborated and applauded them for sailing uncharted digital territory rather than fearing them and ultimately condemning them.

Check out this debate about Napster between Lars Ulrich (Metallica) & Chuck D (Public Enemy) and see who you agree with:

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2 Comments

  1. After watching the debate, I am more inclined to Chuck D because his arguments are based on the importance of keeping art flourishing and limitless, whereas Lars’s point of view was inclined towards the keeping the old way going, he had a logical interpretation, as he was referring Metallica as an example, talking about their hard work and rewards.
    Chuck was looking towards the future and analyzing the way the music industry will change on the span of 50 years.
    Which is why I elect him.
    Who do you agree with?

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  2. I definitely agree more with Chuck D- and not just because he’s from one of my favorite hiphop groups. Chuck D was looking at the bigger picture, the future, he realized that at the speed the internet was growing and developments were being made that the selling of only hard copies was eventually going to be a thing of the past. He understood that artists can’t beat technology, so he was focused on finding ways to keep artistry growing, relevant and selling through alternative forms of music distribution.I believe that artists during the early 2000’s who were able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and get a head start on figuring out how to capitalize through forms other than hard copies were the ones who prospered first/the most when streaming sites and applications ultimately took over. Ulrich was mainly focused on the ethics and trying to get internet users to understand that they do NOT have the right to download music freely. He might have been hoping that Napster was the last they’d see of streaming sites, not knowing that it was only the foundation to the major applications we use today, like Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify, and TIDAL.

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