Alternatives to Stealing Music?

Yesterday had a good online discussion about kazaa, a file
sharing program that is the napster of today (and by the way, it is
being sued by music companies, with major fines on the way).

The discussion is here
(if you follow this link, be sure to choose the option to set the
threshhold to “3” . That filters most of the asinine comments away).

One particularly incisive post by Greg
really clarifies the issues at hand here. My favorite line from it:

” So by my reckoning, downloading “pirate” music is at least the second-best
money-making promotional model there is (or possibly the best) for the type of
music that isn’t played on commercial radio and MTV. And that’s at least 99% of
all the music in the world.”

I wrote this response:

“Dear Greg:

Great slashdot post about kazaa and “stealing music”. I actually
forwarded it to a number of my friends. My only comment I’ll make is
that if MP3’s (or other nonproprietary formats) are freely available,
it’s really doubtful that I would ever buy a CD from that group unless
it were substantially cheaper (under $2). The only advantage that a CD
offers is slightly better quality and the certainty that all the songs
are there and of even quality. I’ve been telling friends that Kazaa is
good at helping you find about 8 songs of any singer under the sun, but
it’s next to impossible to get a complete collection of songs. I
really like the idea of and am seriously considering donating
to a few artists I like and have been stealing music from.

I tend to accept as inevitable that the music companies will do
anything to prevent their music from listened to for free. It makes
perfect sense for them to release music in proprietary formats and
playable only on hardware that protects copyright. And if makes perfect
sense for hackers to try to circumvent these protections. A certain
percentage of the audience will devote considerable time and effort
learning how to use these circumvention methods, but the majority of
people will just be too lazy to go to all that trouble.

BTW, you overlooked one other way to preview music: through internet
radio. Services like allow you to listen to channels
which are very specialized and often contains multiple selections by a
singer. And by the way, that website manages their digital rights very
carefully. However, they limit the number of songs by one singer on a
single channel. I don’t think that’s right. Since the online radio
stations contains a lot of advertising (ouch!!), I think people would
be still willing to pay to listen to an ad-free version of the songs.
Perhaps music companies can release CD tracks with advertisements that
can be removed only by a special proprietary tool.