Ill Communication #6: My Napster Theory


First off, I am not a journalist. I struggle to write and speak cohesively without exploring a hundred tangents on the way. Also, if spellcheck didn’t auto-correct my “i’s and e’s after c” issues, none of this would even be legible. But I’ve been sitting on this idea for months, having conversations with folks at the record shop as as well online and watching their mind blow open. So I figured It was worth it to put this idea out there into the universe a bit more formally and see where it may end up. So if you, the person reading this, find your mind being blown by the following hypothesis, I’d invite you to share either this article or the idea behind it with someone who could do something productive with it. Because I am not that person. But I digress (see? again with the tangents). Here goes:

Npaster Logo

Napster. Everyone knows what Napster is. Even if you weren’t a functioning human in 2000, you know your music history enough to know their impact. I was old enough to take advantage of file sharing in college and grabbed plenty of songs for free, though it took like 4 hours to download 2 songs, so take that with a grain of salt. Even in hindsight I really don’t feel too bad about it, and I consider myself to be a pretty ethical dude (at least by my ethical standards). But after spending $18.99 a CD in high school just to find out an album had 2-3 hot songs , I, like many of my friends, were burnt out and fed up with being cheated out of what little money we did have. File sharing was our version of rectifying the situation.

Labels, obviously, did not see it that way. Thus you had the HUGE and very stupid war on music fans from the very people who had no problem cheating them out of their money just a couple years prior. One would then surmise that you could hold Sean Parker & Napster in one of two lights:

Napster either set-off a chain of rationalized greed among music fans who wanted music for free, even if it was viewed as stealing, or…Napster was the logical reaction to the growing greed of music industry execs and in freeing music, they took the power away from unfair gatekeepers. Whichever side you’re on, none of this is news. I’m just giving you a quick history lesson on the subject matter before I insert my totally-left-field hypothesis. Here goes:

I have never, EVER once heard anyone herald Napster and it’s founders as revolutionary in the eco-friendly department, as they nearly single-handedly sparked the demise of physical product in music. Obviously, we still have Record Stores (I help run one) and CDs here and there. Which is fine and really important. But the act of listening to music now does NO HARM to the environment.

That’s INSANE. Has any other industry been this successful in going green? Tesla has been trying for over 10 years and it’ll still be a while before they pull it off. Can the music industry re-brand it’sself as the eco-friendly American Institution and just get government funding to pay us artists better? That’s kind-of a rhetorical question, but you get it.

And this brings me to another, more macro question: How many other acts of rapid human evolution were brought about by way of something totally unrelated? Nobody set out to make the music industry more eco-friendly, it was a byproduct of an entirely different argument based out of greed. Sadly, are our greatest selfless accomplishments born from selfish goals?

Again, I have no clue why I keep having this conversation with people. It started from a tangent about something more important I’m sure. I don’t know how to turn this idea into a moving thing that sparks a change in anything else. But I do feel compelled to continue expanding on it and sharing it with anyone who takes the time to read it. Ideally the right mind in the right field (Environmentalism, the Music Industry, Tech) will read this and spark a light bulb over their head to do something great with this information. If you do, I just ask that you tag me. Not that I want credit for an idea, I’m just interested in seeing this idea travel and grow. I think it has legs. I just don’t know if the legs can walk.

Oh, PS, more columns coming soon. I have a project to release this Spring and some cool column ideas to share alongside it. So if you like stuff like this, ‘like’ my FB page and catch me via all the other social media outlets. You can also sign up on our mailing list HERE.

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Posted in ill poetic, Money, mp3, Music, Pop Culture, Society
  • Rae Faith Fiveonethree

    Music is powerful in its purest form and throughout the human history has been held sacred and in recorded form connects us to the past. It’s interesting in the way that we are able to obtain it, easier and quicker than ever, but I feel alot of it has lost the richness that helped make music timeless. I don’t know if that is just in the production or the digitizing. Something that you get from records. The energy that fills a room. Maybe it is my Era, but I feel like I have lost my song collection to old tapes and scratched c.d.’s. Yes I may splurge on a record now and then….but for the most part I listen to music on YouTube when I have access to the Internet. Do I wish I had mp3s of all my favorite songs, yes. Have you heard the quality of some of the mixes…!? From ancestors who shared song around camp fires. To musicians trying to make a living in today’s day and age. The same rings true, if it’s heartfelt and brings a meaningful message it will stand the test of time. The idea that music can reach around the world is beautiful. The fact that it is able to do so with less impact on the environment, that is worthy of acknowledgement. But I will always treasure the records in my collection that bring my heart and soul peace and I could never exchange them… I guess what I’m trying to say is the great ones matter.