The shift to digital music had a tremendous impact on the recording industry…

How Napster changed music online

Digital Music is a term that can be used to describe any kind of music that exists in an audio file format.  For many people the very first they heard of digital music was the online file sharing company Napster.  Napster was created by Shawn Fanning, a college student who was studying at Northeastern University outside of Boston.  The services was the first of its kind that allowed users to share music files with one another completely bypassing any commercial exchange and leading to tremendous copyright infringement and a lawsuit that eventually caused the destruction of the site and lead to a tremendous overhaul of the entire world of digital music.

Once songs previously available only for purchase in music stores were able to be traded over the Internet for free, everything changed. Sites like Napster made it very easy for anyone who was interested in music to trade files over the internet for no fee.  This essentially made paying for music that you wanted in a store virtually obsolete. Instead of spending as much as $21.99 for a CD that contained only one or two songs that the listener was interested in, Napster and its sister sites which followed in its wake created a space where users could download as much or as little of an artist’s album as they wanted, absolutely free without leaving home.  If you decided you didn’t want any of the music you could delete it without having wasted any money or even any space on your computer.

Filing sharing negatively affects artists

When the extent of the file sharing that was taking place was first realized, artists were outraged.  Many of them felt that their hard work and effort in the studio was going to virtually nothing because fans were now able to access their music for free and get all of it without remitting any payment.  In actuality the frustration with the file sharing belonged mostly to record labels. It is widely known that artists make virtually no money from the sale of their albums; that revenue goes directly to the record companies, most of whom pay millions of dollars to produce and market albums.  Seeing their monetary efforts come to nothing when fans downloaded music for free enraged them, and the backlash included numerous lawsuits filed against citizens who had downloaded music for free as well as television and print campaigns which spoke out about the unfair practices involved in free file sharing and attempted to liken downloading music for free to stealing from a music store.  The analogy was a poor one but the record companies insisted on strict reform for the ways that music sharing was enacted on the web.

Since then there have been numerous changes and reformation in the way that digital files are shared on the internet. For one thing, programs such as iTunes have created a marketplace where listeners can pay for individual songs, whole albums, music and video which previously had been downloadable for free as well on the internet.  In concert with these efforts, several other businesses devoted to file sharing had created marketplaces where users could become monthly members for a flat fee, and afterward download a large volume of music for their own personal use.

What will happen next?

For every effort being made to curb free digital music sharing, there are, of course, counter efforts being made on the part of private citizens to figure out new ways to get digital music for free. Because the internet is still in many ways, a new terrain, there will always be hackers and code writers who are capable of undoing the work of record companies who would seek to maintain the status quo with regard to the purchase and trading of digital music file sharing.

What do you think about music in the digital age?  What will happen next?

About the Author: Vera Mosley is a music fanatic and a freelance writer for a free mp3 streaming website. When she is not blogging, she loves to travel and go to concerts with her friends.

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