mp3 music sharing and thoughts on digital music

The mp3 file format has been hugely successful in creating the ability for people to share music for free, due to the world changing use of the net by the brilliant original napster, and other lower quality clones which came later. [napster

Some people think this is bad. They think that if consumers can get music for free, artists will no longer be able to afford to produce new works. Hello? Do you think there was no quality music created before the corrupt recording industry existed? In fact, very, very few "artists" actually make any money off records, compared to the number of active musicians out there. So maybe we'll have less of Britney Spears (is that a bad thing?). In the future, as in most of the past, live performance revenue will be a larger part of artists income than recordings. And CD/DVD cases will get more elaborate and valuable to own, to continue to motivate some fans for buying original recordings. See also Courtney Love's comments on this. (I liked this article so much that I bought one of her CDs, but after listening to it, I think she should consider a career switch to journalism or costume design.)

Some people think that Microsoft and/or Intel will solve the music sharing "problem" by building future PCs with security that disallow copying unlicensed music and audio. This is naive. I can build a high quality analog to digital device that takes the clean signal from my speaker or video jacks and pumps it back through the USB port as clean, unencrypted signal. (I call this my audio-jack jacker.) Only a small number of people will need such devices to obviate music "security" for everyone.

I'm not making a statement about the ethics of copying copyrighted music. I'm making a statement about reality. The cat is out of the bag, and despite recent work by Steve Jobs and others, it is not going back. If you want to engage me in a discussion about the future of digital music, please make that a reality-based discussion.

I'm also not saying that the so-called Napster "replacements" are useful pieces of software. In fact, they suck. Software like Morpheus makes me shamed to tell people I am a programmer, given its horrible quality and lack of ease of use and its spyware etc.

As for Morpheus etc, yes, they are terrible today, but take heart in that they will continue to be replaced by new software which will keep getting a little bit better. (Of course the kids will need to separately figure out a way to defeat EXTREME 8.)

One more thing: once we kill the corrupt recording industry, can someone please help blow up radio station payola? As example of the higher standard that Internet companies have to live with, can you believe the furor when some Internet sites were not as clear about which search results were paid listings? Hello? Do you ever wonder why you suddenly hear some shitty old Elton John song on five different radio stations in one day?

Home Updated Sat 31-Dec-2005 4:41 AM