Napster And How The Music Industry Lost

Written by on December 8, 2014

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I can recall vividly the first mp3s I downloaded from Napster back in the day, it was 20 Bag Shorty and Izzo by Jay-Z. I remember how proud I felt when I transferred the songs onto a cd and rolled around town bumping it like I had that new-new. My friends would hop in the whip and look at me like…. what’s this? And I just smiled and responded with, it’s that new shit! That was the beauty of downloading back in those days, get the music early and pass it out to your friends like you had the hottest drugs on the street.

From Napster I graduated to a spot called SoulSeek and that did me good for a minute. As a matter of fact, I think SoulSeek is still out there kicking in the cosmos. However, the best early music sharing platform I utilized was Audio Galaxy. AG was the shit. You joined groups such as Hip Hop, Soul, Old School, etc; and whenever someone had the new cd they would drop it to the group and your computer would automatically begin to download it. Could it get any easier?

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Eventually AG was shut down like Napster, Kazza, and all the others. But one thing I learned early in the game, MP3 spots were just like dope houses; you close one of them and another would pop up around the corner. No matter how hard the industry tried to bottle up music sharing, it continued to spread like a gasoline fire. Now we are here in 2014 and it is extremely easy to get whatever music you want. In fact I think my Ma Dukes could download Marvin Gaye’s entire catalog with ease if she really wanted to. The novelty of downloading music has worn off an it has now turned into the norm. It is nothing to search Google for whatever you are looking for, and within minutes finding a website that is hosting a link to that song/album.

Instead of fighting the download bug, record companies should have embraced it by;

 

  1. The price of compact disc were too much – Once people began to buy blank cd’s in bulk and discovered how easy it was to print up their own music album, companies could not justify charging consumers $15.99 per album. Think about it, why would someone want to drop $15.99 for a disc filled with audio when they can buy a dvd for the same amount? What record companies should have done was figure out a way to present the artist in ways that would be difficult to duplicate at home. Example, instead of just giving the customer music, package the audio with a collection of videos, behind the scenes footage of them making the album, or exclusive interviews for the same price. Back in the early days of downloading we  all used AOL dial up, there was no way we would want to tie up our phone lines downloading all of that video. Imagine getting The Blueprint with concert footage of Summer Jam, wouldn’t that have made your little day?
  2. When Apple began to release iPods that held 160gb of music they were in theory putting the final nail in the coffin. Think about it 160gb is equal to about 3,000 albums. Now if you take that number and multiply it by $15.99 that would equal $47,970. Now who do you know would spend that much on music? Steve Jobs wouldn’t even spend that much on music back in the day. So basically the iPod was set up to house the music you downloaded illegally.
  3. The pay for the singles you like model killed the album – Once iTunes let the public only buy the songs they actually wanted, the concept of an album pretty much died. Back in the day the release of an album was a major event. You would run to the store purchase the album, make it home rip off the packaging, and sit back and listen to the album as you read the production credits. Now all the kids do is download the songs they want. Bad business.

 

This documentary take us back to the early days of Napster and how the music companies miscalculated the significance of downloading music. For some reason they thought the consumer would continue to drop $15.99 for a compact disc. Instead of working with technology, they fought against it and lost.


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