Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kent Newsome on the Golden Era of Online Music

Back on January 15, Kent Newsome wrote a post on what he called "the golden era in online music." Obviously he grabbed me from the beginning of his second paragraph:

Let's reminisce a moment about the good old days, from around 1997 through the early part of this century. Back when MP3.Com was a legitimate music hub, with hundreds of new, unsigned and independent musicians and bands bringing their music directly to the eager public for the first time.

Now of course, some will argue that songs such as "Taco Taco Taco" and "Non Sequitur 15" simply proved that a vacuum will fill itself with dirt. But Kent found songs that he liked, I found songs that I liked (such as "Taco Taco Taco"), and people were happy.

Kent continues the story to the next stage:

Metallica, Dr. Dre and the cat-chasing, empty bag-holding record labels ganged up on Napster like a horde of peasants outside Frankenstein's castle and destroyed the technology they feared. MP3.Com, in a move that foretold the future, started letting users register (not upload) their CDs and access them anywhere, leading the increasingly panicked horde to its castle door. Before long, the record labels were suing grandmothers for allegedly sharing music they'd never heard of, while the guerilla sharers moved from one lesser substitute to another.

The golden age was over.

Eventually the industry reached an accommodation of sorts with the public, but for Kent it isn't the same.

At the end of the day, Amazon, CD Baby and, maybe, iTunes will become acceptable substitutes for the direct distribution of music. But the experience is not as fun as it used to be and, sadly, there is not as much unsigned and independent music to be discovered there. I like Amazon MP3 downloads. I loved those MP3.Com downloads.

But are Newsome and myself just old horse-and-buggy fogeys complaining that them dang whippersnapper youth won't get off our lawns? Perhaps. While I was searching for information about the old, I ran across a couple of currently-active independent musician sites.

Hadn't heard much about them lately, but they're still kicking. Certainly one of the co-producers of "A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar" had kept tabs on them.

I had never heard of this site, but PandaDeClaire obviously has.

And a recent Sacramento Bee article mentions both of these sites, plus So it appears that the music is out there...
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