Music and the Internet

I've been regularly using the internet since about 1998, but been listening to music since 1983 (year of my birth!) – cut to present day and I'm sure most will agree that these two things are at the pinnacle of modern culture. You can discover music easily without the internet, and likewise you can explore the internet without any reference to music, but… integrated together, you are given a whole new avenue to explore, this blog itself is testament to that fact. So, how can you use the internet to access and discover music and what are the best ways to go about it? I'll detail the methods and knowledge I have on the subject, and then it would be great if people could fill in some blanks (if present) via the submission of comments on this entry.

Perhaps it would be wise to start with a quick history lesson! So, one of the first instances of music on the internet would have been the ability to purchase music from online stores. This is still a huge practice, and as like other forms of internet shopping, purchasing music online can save you quite a bit of money. Then came along the p2p applications, namely Napster. Napster gave a user the ability to search for a song by song name and then download it (for free) via their p2p software. Essentially you would have been downloading direct from someone else's computer, somewhere else in the world. Sounds great, but it was (is) illegal. It is essentially theft. Other complaints about the idea of a p2p system include; corrupt audio files, poor quality audio files, incomplete files etc… Napster was eventually shut down (due to the legality issues), but others argued that it gave music fans the chance to test music before purchasing it – some statistics even proved (apparently) that p2p programmes like Napster actually helped to increase record sales, presumably due to this try before you buy attitude. Other p2p programmes came on the scene after Napster, but some would eventually be shut down, although others would quickly pop up in their place – internet piracy is just too difficult to police. Currently the only people really being prosecuted for their participation are the ones found to be uploading obscene amounts of music. Different methods of obtaining music for free on the net after p2p came to light, like Bittorrent, a newer technology to share files. However, services like Napster made a revival years later, but under the guise of a "pay to download" system, a big earner from this new method of online music sales is Apple's iTunes store. Although it is worth noting that in an attempt to catch up with iTunes, Napster have changed their pay system so that revenue is gained more through advertising than public sales.

But aside from stealing or buying music, the internet is actually a fantastic tool for music discovery. Websites such as MySpace, last.fm and Pandora are great ways to discover new music. MySpace started out as a community for people to make new friends, but has now evolved into much more than that. They offer a service to artists and groups known as MySpace Music. This gives the artist/s an opportunity to share a few tracks with fans and prospective fans and also give details on upcoming gigs and music releases. Naturally this is a fantastic way for unknown/unsigned artists and groups to spread the word of their work, but literally tonnes of established artists are on there too. It seems if you aren't on MySpace Music then you must be stuck in the 90s or something!

last.fm is a website that compiles charts and statistics based on your listening habits. Firstly you need to register at last.fm and then download a small plug-in for whatever programme you listen to music with on your PC. Then as soon as you listen to at least half a track on your PC the info will be recorded on to your last.fm user-page. Each week a chart is created for you on your page, detailing which artists and tracks you listened to most in the last week. Also an all time ever chart is regularly updated for you. So to look at it from that perspective I guess it just seems interesting to see what your listening habits are – but… it goes further than that… Based on your listening habits, last.fm will find you people that have similar tastes to yourself (neighbours) and will also suggest to you music that you should like, that you haven't heard before, based on what you already have listened to (recommendations). Absolutely priceless.

Lastly; Pandora. Simply type in the name of an artist you like and Pandora will play you similar music that you may not have heard before. This site is just another good way to find new music based on your existing tastes. Their database is growing and becoming more accurate all the time, definitely worth checking out. It's one of those handy sites that instantly gives you the answers you need. All three of the aforementioned websites are an absolute must for discovering new music on the internet. The internet has enabled me to discover so much new music in such a short space of time, and also meet new people that have been able to help educate me in ways that otherwise would never have been possible. Some artists and organisations are quick to dismiss the internet as a pirates haven and general waste of time, but the sooner these people realise what a valuable tool the internet is, the better. I know some already have; sending out newsletters containing links to samples from new albums etc… Essentially it is just modern marketing, and used the right way will only help artists to prosper, not suffer.

I'm sure none of this will be new to a lot of you, but I'd still very much like to hear your comments on the subjects I raised. If any of this was new to you, then great, glad I could show you something new.

Useful links:

  • Aaron

    Music is an integral part of my life, and without the internet it’d be far less rich than it is at the moment.

    Last.fm is great, it’s such a simple idea, but yet so addictive. I don’t know why I want to see a list of what I’ve listened to so much, but I do. I see my music taste as a little bizarre, and it’s fantastic to find people with a similar music taste.

    I hate to say it but I do like myspace as far as finding music goes. As long as I ignore the emo element of myspace, I don’t feel so dirty. It’s also interesting as it makes you feel “closer” to certain artists, artists who are actively using myspace anyway. The ability to receive bulletins on an artists new shows is certainly interesting, and I’d probably really like it if I lived in a city that wasn’t musically dead. Listening to a track or three of an artist on myspace is also excellent.

    If there were a p2p “revolution” at the moment it’d have nothing to do with the mechanics of downloading music, but how you find the music. For instance, before i’d just enter “radiohead” into the search box, and my music taste really wouldn’t diversify — diversification is important to me. The seminal points of my musical discovery came from two people I met in real life who told me about aphex twin and serge gainsbourg respectively. But now thanks to various communities (hello fizikz) and sites which link you to similar artists (hello last.fm and myspace music to a certain extent) my musical experience on the internet is far better. This is thank you to everyone on fizikz who’ve recommened albums and artists ;)

    Thanks to the internet my music taste has gone from the beatles and cliff richard (hey i was 7 and it was the only music my household had!) to aphex twin, mozart, dj shadow and serge gainsbourg :)

    Aaron (aka Weeks)

  • Aaron

    Music is an integral part of my life, and without the internet it’d be far less rich than it is at the moment.

    Last.fm is great, it’s such a simple idea, but yet so addictive. I don’t know why I want to see a list of what I’ve listened to so much, but I do. I see my music taste as a little bizarre, and it’s fantastic to find people with a similar music taste.

    I hate to say it but I do like myspace as far as finding music goes. As long as I ignore the emo element of myspace, I don’t feel so dirty. It’s also interesting as it makes you feel “closer” to certain artists, artists who are actively using myspace anyway. The ability to receive bulletins on an artists new shows is certainly interesting, and I’d probably really like it if I lived in a city that wasn’t musically dead. Listening to a track or three of an artist on myspace is also excellent.

    If there were a p2p “revolution” at the moment it’d have nothing to do with the mechanics of downloading music, but how you find the music. For instance, before i’d just enter “radiohead” into the search box, and my music taste really wouldn’t diversify — diversification is important to me. The seminal points of my musical discovery came from two people I met in real life who told me about aphex twin and serge gainsbourg respectively. But now thanks to various communities (hello fizikz) and sites which link you to similar artists (hello last.fm and myspace music to a certain extent) my musical experience on the internet is far better. This is thank you to everyone on fizikz who’ve recommened albums and artists ;)

    Thanks to the internet my music taste has gone from the beatles and cliff richard (hey i was 7 and it was the only music my household had!) to aphex twin, mozart, dj shadow and serge gainsbourg :)

    Aaron (aka Weeks)

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    Cheers for the comments mate! I agree with everything you said.

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    Cheers for the comments mate! I agree with everything you said.

  • http://www.myspace.com/wish_ka wishka

    Very true Weeks ;)
    I was very sceptical about My Space too, but it’s indeed great place for finding and sharing music..
    And about Last.fm… What to say… Thanks to similar artists option I’ve found a lot of fantastic music :)
    Cheers

  • http://www.myspace.com/wish_ka wishka

    Very true Weeks ;)
    I was very sceptical about My Space too, but it’s indeed great place for finding and sharing music..
    And about Last.fm… What to say… Thanks to similar artists option I’ve found a lot of fantastic music :)
    Cheers

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    Currently the only people really being prosecuted for their participation are the ones found to be uploading obscene amounts of music.

    I can’t agree with you there. Take a look

    I especially liked this article’s intro, since you already mentioned myspace: This is what the RIAA is really worried about: a new business model for bands. This band, called “The Fall” gets most of its promotion work done for free by its online community. Imagine what would happen if this continues to spread — no big nasty record labels, no nasty RIAA. Just bands, music and fans.

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    Currently the only people really being prosecuted for their participation are the ones found to be uploading obscene amounts of music.

    I can’t agree with you there. Take a look

    I especially liked this article’s intro, since you already mentioned myspace: This is what the RIAA is really worried about: a new business model for bands. This band, called “The Fall” gets most of its promotion work done for free by its online community. Imagine what would happen if this continues to spread — no big nasty record labels, no nasty RIAA. Just bands, music and fans.

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    did my comment go in spam? wow i do love that akismet spam. you hear me wordpress?! gah.

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    did my comment go in spam? wow i do love that akismet spam. you hear me wordpress?! gah.

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    Your link didn’t work. :-(

    So cant really respond properly as I dont know what your point was.

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    Your link didn’t work. :-(

    So cant really respond properly as I dont know what your point was.

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    Your first post didn’t go into spam, it’s just I select to approve every comment first. So you dont see what you sent immediately. :-)

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    Your first post didn’t go into spam, it’s just I select to approve every comment first. So you dont see what you sent immediately. :-)

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    the link didn’t work? bummer, it’s an old link. anyway, the RIAA sued a family that didn’t even have a computer. that didn’t work, so then they sued individual members of the family. and most people that get sued are the ones that share, the seeders actually.

    i am completely FOR file sharing, when you buy a 12 pound album, do you really think all that money goes to the band? most goes to the record companies, the managers etc. it’s as easy as that.

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    the link didn’t work? bummer, it’s an old link. anyway, the RIAA sued a family that didn’t even have a computer. that didn’t work, so then they sued individual members of the family. and most people that get sued are the ones that share, the seeders actually.

    i am completely FOR file sharing, when you buy a 12 pound album, do you really think all that money goes to the band? most goes to the record companies, the managers etc. it’s as easy as that.

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    I’m aware of some of the odd harsh occurences, like when the old lady got sued cos her grand-daughter downloaded one rap song!

    But my ‘vague’ comments were really aimed at just what has been happening most recently in the UK, and that is that only the people who host like terrabytes of music on the web (whether on their own space, or through p2p systems) are the ones being targeted by the law. Probably in an attempt to kill off the sharing at the root of the ‘problem’.

    I was aware that artists only got a very small amount from record sales, but what you are saying is; rather than give the artist a small amount of money, you should give them no money at all. This isn’t to say that I agree with how the ‘legal’ method of obtaining music works – but in what other way would you support the artists? I did mention to my brother, off the cuff, the other day that rather than buy a copy of an album that he had already downloaded, that he just send the artist a tenner instead.

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    I’m aware of some of the odd harsh occurences, like when the old lady got sued cos her grand-daughter downloaded one rap song!

    But my ‘vague’ comments were really aimed at just what has been happening most recently in the UK, and that is that only the people who host like terrabytes of music on the web (whether on their own space, or through p2p systems) are the ones being targeted by the law. Probably in an attempt to kill off the sharing at the root of the ‘problem’.

    I was aware that artists only got a very small amount from record sales, but what you are saying is; rather than give the artist a small amount of money, you should give them no money at all. This isn’t to say that I agree with how the ‘legal’ method of obtaining music works – but in what other way would you support the artists? I did mention to my brother, off the cuff, the other day that rather than buy a copy of an album that he had already downloaded, that he just send the artist a tenner instead.

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    I do buy, come on… I do. But only after I’m sure that CD won’t be gathering dust on my shelves. And I’m for supporting the artists by going to their concerts, that’s where most of their dosh comes from.
    I understand some indie acts want to make music and ask for your support, but truth is, you’ve got to know when to give up if you’re making music only for yourself and other 10 odd fans. So I have to make sure i want the artists to live on, you can’t buy their stuff out of pity or the joke’s on everyone.

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    I do buy, come on… I do. But only after I’m sure that CD won’t be gathering dust on my shelves. And I’m for supporting the artists by going to their concerts, that’s where most of their dosh comes from.
    I understand some indie acts want to make music and ask for your support, but truth is, you’ve got to know when to give up if you’re making music only for yourself and other 10 odd fans. So I have to make sure i want the artists to live on, you can’t buy their stuff out of pity or the joke’s on everyone.

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    I wasn’t trying to suggest that YOU dont support artists, so sorry if it appeared that way.

    I dont expect anyone to be buying music out of pity – that would be bizarre. But the greedy record companies are killing it for everyone. I dont think an album should really be much more than like £7 or something. Plus there should be more schemes and incentives available to try music before you buy online. I know there are a few services online now that have similar sounding features, but the law seems to be so hell bent on prosecuting these ‘pirates’ that they cant see how it could be changed into a more positive situation for everyone involved. Anyway, I’m pretty confident that I’m not telling you anything you dont already know, so I’ll shut up now! :-P

  • http://www.fizikz.com/ jeej

    I wasn’t trying to suggest that YOU dont support artists, so sorry if it appeared that way.

    I dont expect anyone to be buying music out of pity – that would be bizarre. But the greedy record companies are killing it for everyone. I dont think an album should really be much more than like £7 or something. Plus there should be more schemes and incentives available to try music before you buy online. I know there are a few services online now that have similar sounding features, but the law seems to be so hell bent on prosecuting these ‘pirates’ that they cant see how it could be changed into a more positive situation for everyone involved. Anyway, I’m pretty confident that I’m not telling you anything you dont already know, so I’ll shut up now! :-P

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    so kids, in today’s lesson… ? :) anyway it isn’t just me reading this, these comments.. lots of peeps benefit from these discussions, i’ve imbalanced the topic though, just realised… sorreee. :D

  • http://eashfa.wordpress.com/ Linda

    so kids, in today’s lesson… ? :) anyway it isn’t just me reading this, these comments.. lots of peeps benefit from these discussions, i’ve imbalanced the topic though, just realised… sorreee. :D

  • Aaron

    “Just bands, music and fans” that’s a good tag-line ;)

  • Aaron

    “Just bands, music and fans” that’s a good tag-line ;)