Music browsing

The record companies like to bleat long and hard about how file sharing over the internet is killing their business, but as far as I’m concerned it’s bullshit.

I’m a veteran music-downloader and can recall with delight the glory days of Napster. Things have changed since then but it’s still pretty easy to find the music you want.

The only music I ever really download these days is the more obscure stuff. Maybe I’ve heard a snippet on a movie soundtrack. Or someone has mentioned an artist worth listening to, or I’ve read something in the press somewhere. In other words, the music you likely won’t hear on the commercial radio stations.

So I’ll search for whatever I’m looking for, download and listen to it. If I like it I might go and download another. If it’s still good I’ll go and buy the album – this is how the internet helps sell records. In fact, I reckon the internet is a boon to the lesser artists who don’t get the air time they deserve – it has opened them up to a wider audience who might otherwise have never heard of them.

I did this recently with the Pernice Brothers. I’d heard of them before but not their music. I read a glowing review of their last CD and decided to check them out. I downloaded a couple of songs and liked them – particularly the gorgeous Baby in Two. To cut a long story short I ended up buying their last two CD’s.

Likewise Sarah McLachlan. Somehow I’d always figured she wasn’t my type of music. Then I heard Fallen and thought it great. Bought the album – and realised I’d been right in the first place. Not really my type of music.

Recently I’ve discovered the Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell. And found another beautifully lush pop song by a group called Aqualung called Brighter than Sunshine. Worth checking out.

I rarely download the more mainstream music off the net, mainly because by and large it’s not my cup of tea. I can understand how the internet disadvantages bigger acts. They don’t need the exposure, and theoretically, every track downloaded is revenue lost. Do people download whole CDs though? I’d much rather have the CD in my hand. The sound quality is better than mp3, and it’s yours forever.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been going through my CD collection and converting a good portion of them into mp3’s for my iPod. I’ll trek around Europe plugged into my record collection at home. As they say, the best of both worlds.

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