Just plug in ‘n’ play

Tune in With the MP3 format, one can easily upload songs

Tune in With the MP3 format, one can easily upload songs   | Photo Credit: Photo: Murali Kumar K.

With record companies and artists embracing online distribution, it won’t be long before we can get the latest records the day it’s out, legally, says Akshay Rajmohan

The advent of Peer 2 Peer networks gave birth to an unlimited resource of music for audiophiles the world over. Almost ten years into the fray, P2P has been called a pirate, a threat and even been singled out as the de facto cause of the fall of music sales.

And the legal battle has raged on long and hard as Napster, the world’s favourite P2P music and MP3 sharing service was outlawed in 2001 after mainstream artistes like Madonna, Dr. Dre and Metallica filed lawsuits against Napster.

But that didn’t really stop the spread of P2P as with the birth of broadband internet connections, more and more users began logging in to find a virtual treasure trove of tunes. It didn’t help that broadband service providers began offering unlimited download connections. Another progression in P2P culture was Torrent technology that allowed users to download large files simultaneously. In early April, 2006, rock outfit Tool’s latest album 10,000 Days was leaked on P2P and Torrent servers. Neha, an avid Tool fan says: “It is especially hard in India where CDs of your favourite band don’t get released. The ones that do are so highly priced, it is difficult for us teens to pick up a copy.”

The clumsiness of carrying CDs is antoerh factor that makes downloads a hot favourite. With the MP3 format one can upload the songs onto iPods or MP3 players.

Things have changed now with record companies and artists are embracing online distribution. Radiohead allowed fans to download their latest album In Rainbows off their website at any price. If a fan thought the album was worth it’s retail price, he would pay just that but if a fan thought it was worth only 10 cents, that’s what he would pay.

But Trent Reznor adopted a different strategy. His band, Nine Inch Nails’ last two albums have been put online for free download. The first album Ghosts was part of a four CD set.Their latest album, The Slip, is available for download off their website with Reznor posting, “…thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years — this one’s on me.”

So if you think music is not worth your hard-earned green, log on to the websites of your favourite bands, chances are they’ve gone the Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead way and may allow you to get a hold of their latest album free of cost.

As of January this year, Qtrax has launched an ambitious service to counter music piracy and illegal file sharing by allowing users to download and own over 25 million tracks free of charge. The only catch being that Qtrax users would be exposed to a lot of Advertising while using the Qtrax service.

Qtrax is not fully functional just yet as most record companies don’t see this as a solution to illegal file sharing. There is, however, a glimmer of hope for Qtrax as, as of March this year, record companies like EMI, Sony Music, TVT and fintunes have all signed up with Qtrax.

Apple users can use the already existing iTunes music service to download free as well as paid content. It won’t be long before we can all get the latest records of our favourite bands the day it’s out and more importantly, legally.

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