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Monday, June 4, 2012
The New Napster
You know you're really an old-timer when you mention Napster
and the kids say, “Wasn't that the thing our parents used to use in college?”
Well, during that evanescent moment of music striving to be free, even folks who earned their living selling goods protected by copyright relished being able to find even the most obscure tune from their distant memory, put online by some stoner from a dorm room, shared at a LAN party, and downloaded by thousands of people who hadn't heard it in decades. High times, those.
But here we are now and, guess what: Napster is back!
Well, not Napster, neutered and brought down by The Man, but rather its successor, owned and operated by The Man or, as we now speak of him, Google and its media front organisation, YouTube.
As an experiment, I put together the kind of stream of consciousness play-list I would have done back in the days of shuffling through CDs or Napster, and then searched for them on YouTube. Every one of the following videos (many of which have mostly audio content) came up on the first page of results—most in the first five items. I did not fail to find a single song which popped into my mind during this free-association fest.
Napster is back! Where is the outrage from the music industry? Do they quake in fear before the mighty Google? Now, of course, you cannot directly download an MP3 file from the audio track of a YouTube video, but capturing the audio, trimming extraneous start and end material, adjusting levels, and saving it locally is hardly challenging to youth with tech savvy comparable to their elders who made Napster a global phenomenon.