Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Viva La Napster
by Tia

I believe in file sharing. Napster was my utopia. I’ve got a list of 20 file sharing sites just in case the man shuts down my current “Napster”. SLAM THE MAN. (See Empire Records.) I also own 300+ cds (A paltry sum by today’s standards, I know.) and 4 records. I have been a member of Columbia House and BMG on several occasions. I got my first real job at 16 working at McDonald’s for the expressed purpose of blowing every dime of my $5.50/ hour on music. (My mother will attest to this.) I bought Me Against The World, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Stunt by The Bare Naked Ladies and Conversation Peace by Stevie Wonder on their respective drop dates. And those are just the ones that immediately come to mind. I have an array of mangled memories of me standing out side of Best Buy/Target/Wal-Mart waiting to buy a cd so that I could listen to it on the way to school or work.

So I guess at this point you’re wondering how such a huge music enthusiast can believe so whole-heartedly in something that many have called stealing. I’ll try to explain.

Let me paint you a picture. You see a group perform live at an awards show. And say this group puts on a stellar performance. You’re so impressed that you go out and buy their cd the day it comes out. But much to your chagrin, the cd is NO WHERE NEAR as good as the live performance you witnessed. AND you’re now out 20 bucks. (Sales tax in TN is 9.25% in case you didn’t know.) So now you’re stuck with a crappy cd with a resale value of $6 if you’re lucky. (That’s a 70% loss for those of you who dig math.) Now had you waited until after the drop date and downloaded a few tracks from the album you could have saved yourself $20 and some frustration.

I have a four track minimum. If an artist puts out 4 singles that I like I’ll buy the album. The number used to be 3 but I got burned one too many times. But think hard. When was the last time someone you like cranked out 4 BANGIN’ singles in a reasonable amount of time?…..I’ll wait…..Harder than you thought, isn’t it’? It’s for this reason I blame part of the surge in downloading on artists. STOP PUTTING OUT CRAP….(Sorry. Didn’t see that outburst coming.) No one likes to feel like they didn’t get their money’s worth. The best way to avoid that is to sample before you purchase. And before you ask, YES, I have sampled whole records. But like I said, if I like four or more I make it legit.

Ever heard of The Streets? What about The Smartee’s? The Artful Dodger? Odds are you probably haven’t. They’re huge in the UK. (sidebar: For those of you who didn’t know, I love most things British. I would move to London but it rains entirely too much for the California girl in me.) I stumble across most UK two step on the web. If it weren’t for the “Napsters” of the world I would have never known who The Streets were, let alone how hot their music was. And imports ARE NOT CHEAP!!! I bought an import copy of Craig David’s first cd in 2000 for almost $25. I figured he’d never hit big here. With a few exceptions, America has turned a deaf ear to most Brit music. Why would he be any different…oops. ...But until Tower or Best Buy puts in a legitimate UK two step section in their stores, a downloadin’ I will go.

I’m not a dj. So I was unaware that there are some HOT remixes to Brandy’s Never Say Never album. (You can hear them on my radio station; member station: Akimmi. You'll have to type in the link. For some reason I can't post it. It's the man.) And even if I’d known they existed I wouldn’t know where to buy them. They don’t just sell those on Hard to find remixes and out of print songs make the file sharing world go ‘round. You try finding a hard copy of Deon Estus’ Heaven Help Me. (If you find one shoot me an e-mail.). Some stuff just doesn’t exist anymore and some stuff just can’t be found outside of some seedy resell shop in southern London. There are tons of remixes on vinyl. But that does me no good. It all goes back to that me not being a dj thing. I understand that there is no reason that The Party’s In The Meantime, In Between Time should still be in production. But don’t get mad at me when the only recourse I have is to download it after being out bid for a vintage copy on Ebay several times.

Finally, we’ve all seen the commercials. Some ridiculously wealthy artist whining about downloading taking money out of their pockets. I have yet to see Madonna or Lars from Metallica buying Rosco Mayer bologna, Dr, Thunder and Frosted Flicks with their food stamps at Aldi’s. They’re just ticked because they only negotiated 5 points on the new album. (Thanks to the late Lisa “Left Eye: Lopes for educating the general populace on the record industry point system.) But seriously, I’m not going to let you make me feel bad and subsequently buy your sub-par attempt at a 15th album just so you can keep your summer home in London to work on your British accent.

Maybe I would feel a twinge of remorse if the collective retail value of all of my cds wasn’t more than what I owe on my car. If flights to London were cheaper, I’d definitely go there to get my British garage and two step rather than downloading. But until we live in a perfect world, I will continue to spend late nights with glazed eyes trying find The King Dream Chorus singing their tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King…..


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