Wrinklies on Napster

Sept 2003: Hmmm - I wrote this some time ago & in many ways it's no longer relevant, but I think it's interesting nevertheless. BTW I *am* still using Kazaa Lite - but not very often.

In March of 2001 I posted the following to alt.music.mp3.napster:

I read with interest all the articles in the media about "Napster, the computer file sharing program that allows teenagers to download music from the Internet for free" - I'm 44 and most of the people I've chatted with have been well over teen age. But it seems that we - or I anyway - have a different use for the service.
Rather than downloading the latest albums and chart hits, I'm downloading stuff that either I wouldn't have bought the CD of under any cirumstances, or else stuff that isn't available on CD at all. I have over 1000 albums on vinyl but the arrival of CDs and a family mean that they are with my record deck in the loft. I have bought CD versions of many of these but I began to resent buying them again in a different format just so that I could listen to music I've already paid for once.
Then there are songs - mainly top 20 songs from my youth - that it's nice to hear again (Hollies, Searchers etc) but that I wouldn't dream of actually buying. Download it, play it once or twice, probably delete it from my HDD. Finally there's loads of stuff that just isn't available - at all or any more - on CD. I, and loads of other people from what I can see, have recorded their vinyl albums, cleaned them up and made them available for sharing. Presumably the record companies decided that these obscuritIes weren't financially viable for CD reissue and so I can't see that they're losing out by us sharing them.
Anyway that's my opinion. Maybe if the record companies themselves made their deleted back catalogs available for DL at a nominal fee I'd go there instead.

It created quite a thread, and you can see some of the replies at the bottom of this page.

I'm no longer using Napster for anything at all, it's a dead duck as far as I'm concerned. For a while WinMX was the king anyway, even before the Napster filtering, but when MusicCity closed their servers to other clients WinMX went pretty much the same way. They intoduced their own peer-to-peer networking a while ago but there are all kinds of limitations with that - and the OpenNap and other servers that you can get with Napigator are too crowded to be much cop. All of which would be a real bummer except that Audiogalaxy have really come through with the goods over the past few months.

At first Audiogalaxy was a bit pants because not many people used it and there wasn't much stuff available. There were other poor things (no way to know which version of a song you're downloading, inability to queue up two different versions of a song, lots of incorrectly named, incomplete or "glipped" MP3s, inability to search by album or user) and some good things (automatic resuming of files, the ability to queue up tracks even when they're not online right now) but the main good thing was that, because it's a Web-based search, you don't have to be at your own PC when queuing up tracks. I could start up my PC, connect via ADSL, fire up the satellite and go to work. Then, in my lunch hour or whatever, go to Audiogalaxy.com and add whatever I liked to my queue and when I got home they'd be there. Or some of them, and then if I left my PC on overnight they'd be there next morning.

There was another advantage to this: I could set up a second account with a different user name and gave the details to my poor dial-up connecting friends at work. They could go to the Audiogalaxy site, from home or from work, and add songs to the queue for this seconary account, and then once a week I'd log on as that user and download a couple of CDs worth of their choices. The Audiogalaxy fairy arrived at work most Fridays. And, of course, that's another advantage of Audiogalaxy - although none of these apps work behind a properly configured firewall, with AG it doesn't matter as long as the satellite is on a PC that does have access (and yes, I do have a firewall - ZoneAlarm - but I give AG free access both ways).

Anyway the point is that now Audiogalaxy has got *lots* of users. Or there have been lots of users (and every time someone logs in it adds their MP3s to its list of "MP3s that have been available at some time or other and might be again so by all means add them to your queue". Despite the recent introduction of some filtering - and it's very odd what is filtered and what isn't (do a search on Canned Heat and see what you think) - I reckon 95% of what you might want is available via AG. If you were to use it, of course. BUT...

Post scripts
(28th Sept): AG's filtering is getting worse, quite a few artists have all their major stuff blocked - but not the misspelled versions (heh heh heh).
(17th Oct): Looks like AG has had it now. Over the past week or so the filtering has really kicked in hard, to the point where even some of *my* stuff is blocked - and I'm more than happy for anyone to download that. So it's back to WinMX, Gnutella, Bearshare - or even IRC. The party ain't quite over yet.

Some of the replies to my post:

Bravo, and as another 44 year old music fan who not only bought the vinyl LP, and then the CD...but after a divorce where I left many of my CD's...I've now re-purchased some of this music a 3rd time (no sympathy needed, just illustrating a point). Next, they'll be DVD-Audio versions to buy and after that who knows. Come on, RIAA...if I really want 1 song from a 1959 jazz recording , which as often as not sparks my interest to go buy the CD or some related title by a sideman, etc..., is this really the main threat to your business model?
Music lovers are a loyal group, and will continue to put money into the industry. D/L'ing music keeps interest high, unearths older material which may lead to a purchase, and while I'd like to see no filters, certainly it should apply principally to the current Billboard charts where most of the purchases and revenue occur. Let us old farts who've supported the industry over all these years have a little fun without trying to extract every last nickle. Loss leader strategies like this are a time-honored business technique to drive customers to the primary revenue sources. If they don't go nuts and get too greedy with the use of filters, Napster and the like could be a major win-win for the consumer and the record industry. Now, RIAA, what are the chances of that?
Cheers To All, Even You, Ms. Rosen. It's not that we believe that people should be allowed to trade your copyrighted material without any regard, but rather that this wildly popular practice is a statement against the monopolistic gouging that's gone on too long. If we handle this well now....good faith, good P.R. and high profits could result. That's gotta make us all smile! :)
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Quite agree with this - I have used Napster to re-create my father's 78rpm collection - he wanted very specific artists/titles and it's impossible to buy these now.
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Same here, I'm 50... 90% of the stuff I've downloaded has been from the 60's and early 70's and is almost impossible to find anywhere. Recently I found a bunch of old stuff we played on the radio and on 8-tracks back when I was a kid in the "American Graffiti" era... all on Napster. I put all of them - about 30 songs - on a CD, and I was in heaven. NO WAY I could have collected that stuff otherwise; it would have taken months of searching and hundreds of dollars' worth of albums and CD's, and most of it simply wasn't available any more, unless you just stumbled across it on some "oldies" disk.
They will never stop this, and I think (and hope) the RIAA will gradually slip out from between the musician and the paying audience. There's IRC all over the place, and I can see email lists, with people swapping music as attachments. Maybe people can meet on IRC and chat about what they want, then go into "private" chat and download from each other. The possibilities are endless.
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Absolutely!!! Most of the stuff I downloaded is OBSCURE stuff that I was ELATED to even find...old novelty stuff I hadnt heard for years.... This makes me SOOOOO mad, I was even buying CD's of stuff I had just tried out on a whim! I think they have cut off their noses to SPITE their faces
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Most of the people I chat with on napster have grey hair. But then, the kind of music shared determines the audience.
(I removed Hair and Tommy from my sharing group of show tunes because they attracted people who liked to send nasty comments. After deleting those two, nasties are rare instead of multiple-per-day.)