Online music is finally getting in tune and it sure is an exciting time to be a music fan.
Downloaded songs, once the scourge of the music industry, have gone completely legitimate and now the next great wave crossing the Internet is all about sharing music over the World Wide Web. It is a great place to be! With the industry’s support, some of the biggest computing and Internet companies have launched music-download stores and portable digital-music players.
Downloading and sharing songs through file-sharing programs was once a dangerous pastime back when the recording industry began filing lawsuits against hundreds of users for copyright infringement. Several surveys by research firms suggested that file-sharing activity slowed after the Recording Industry Association of America launched its legal campaign. In a recent poll, taken by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in November and December, only 14 percent of respondents said they downloaded music (through file-sharing networks or for-pay services), compared to 29 percent in the spring.
Even the most successful download service, Apple’s iTunes Music Store, is dwarfed by the traffic on file-sharing networks. The trend, which is catching on from coast to coast and everywhere in between, is a reflection of just how portable music has become – and how sharing it with others is becoming easier than ever. It’s fairly basic stuff.
Experts who track technology trends say they’re not surprised people are sharing more music. It’s the same thing as sharing a hot new 45 or tape or CD. Some have accused a new wave of music listeners of shutting out the world with their headphones but technology is actually encouraging people to socialize because it is set up for people to meet other people – not isolate them.
The Internet has also changed the dynamics of music sales, with musicians no longer having to rely on distributors or chain stores. They can sell their music on their own Web site, through sites that offer downloads, and through new retailers. The Internet is a great equalizer in a lot of ways. A lot more people can participate. In fact, some musicians grumble that the business has become a little too open, with so much music available that it supersaturates the market.
But there are a lot of people for whom this music is important. And now, you can share with, and meet those people, people just like you, at a great new site that will change the way you think about music forever.
A free-lance writer based in Utah’s “Little Silicon Valley” – also known as Provo – Kevin Cantera tries to keep his ear to the ground in the burgeoning world of digital music and Internet networking. He has written for various newspapers and magazines in the Intermountain region, including Mid-American Review and Home Court.