Category Archives: music

Online Music Sharing: From Napster To iTunes

We’ve come along way in the online world of music. So much has changed in the ways we obtain music online, the technologies used to deliver this new music and the ever changing business models and politics behind it all.

napster Back in 1999 a small file sharing application was born known as Napster. It was created by a bright student at Harvard University Shawn Fanning. The Napster application was a pioneer in online music sharing. It enabled anyone with a computer, a 56k modem and a CD burner to download music (for free) from other’s sharing that music on the internet and burn it to a CD to play that album in your car stereo or even your Discman!

Napster was well known for being a great source of finding unreleased bootleg tracks or copies of songs performed live that nobody else seemed to sell and it was it’s popularity that would eventually cause its downfall.

In 2000, shortly after its reign as supreme app of the dot com boom the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Napster over copyright infringement and providing a means to facilitate music piracy.

"We love the idea of using technology to build artist communities, but that’s not what Napster is all about,”…”Napster is about facilitating piracy, and trying to build a business on the backs of artists and copyright owners." Cary Sherman – Senior VP at RIAA (1999)

Napster fell off the map shortly after this after scrapping their P2P business, but a few years later they created a new business based around the sales of music instead of just giving it away (although they still do give some music away for free, mainly independent artists who just want their voice heard).

There have been many similar p2p file sharing applications come out since the days of Napster, just to name a few:

  • Morpheus
  • WinMX
  • Bearshare

Later after this we saw stuff like Limewire and Kazaa hit the internet and the strange thing is, these days both companies still exist but Limewire has some how managed to dodge all the bullets from RIAA and other authorities to dodge lawsuits and the like from their p2p application.

Kazaa was just like Limewire but they lost a number of lawsuits and have now become a similar business to Napster.

So here we are, about 2003-2004. iTunes had already been available for a year or two as music software for the popular music player iPod.

Apple had created this giant monster of a music player, but at the time the only way people could get their music onto their players legally was itunesto ‘rip’ their music CD’s they already owned to their iTunes libraries to play them on their iPods. Seeing that other businesses by that time had started online music stores to download music legally Apple figured they should get into that market to provide a place where people could download music legally (for a price) for their own iPod devices. After all, what’s the point of making a music player and not proving a good way to get music onto the thing?

Around late 2003 early 2004 Apple launches its iTunes music store in the US, then later in 04 launches the store to the EU. A year later, Australia and others got their own music stores. So now Apple had a legitimate legal way for their iPod users to get music onto their iPods, and Apple being Apple with the great ideas and flawless business models capitalized on the shortcomings of other online stores to provide the best online marketplace for music there is.

If you would like to learn more about the history of online music sharing, Napster, iTunes, etc here are some great links:

And the rest as they say, is history.

Want A Sure-fire Way Of Ruining A Song? Set It As Your Ringtone!

Have you ever heard the saying “Play a song to death and you’ll get sick of it!”, well that’s exactly what happens and there’s no faster way of doing that than to set the song in question as your ringtone on your phone.

iphone Most people these days don’t use the default ringer tone on their phone for incoming calls, they set their favourite songs as their ringtones, but why do this? Why send your favourite songs to an early grave? What will most likely happen is you’ll have the song set on your phone for about a week and after an entire week of calls you’ll be so sick of the song (and maybe even the artist) it will take you ages to get back into them.

This is one of the main reasons why I defy the trends and just use the default ringer. People will say that’s boring, people may even call it stupid, but when I’m sitting on a train and hear somebody’s phone ring to the sound of Britney Spears “Hit me baby one more time”, I’ll just have to hit them!

Five Tips for Smarter Playlists


iTunes has a really great feature which allows you to ‘smartly’ list your songs by genre, artist, rating (favor), etc into a seperate ‘smart playlist’ which can then be syncronized with your iPod. This makes going through thousands of songs a breeze and makes sure you’re always listening to your most favorite songs, and not “We wish you a merry christmas” in July.

I came across a really great article which discusses just this topic, How to make your iTunes playlist ‘smarter’ – Five Tips for Smarter Playlists by David Gagne. Its a great article and helped me get my music sorted out. I already had my music organized in some kind of fashion (I am kinda a control freak with my music collection) but this article made me realize the myriad of features in iTunes which I had totally forgotten about and were underutilized in my playlists.

Check out the article above or find it here, its a great read for any iTunes user.

Blogmusik: Free Online Music

Blogmusik is a free online music player or virtual ‘iPod’ as they like to call it. I have seen tons of websites out there offering free online streaming of music but none can compare to the elegance, simplicity and ease-of-use that Blogmusik provides. Best of all, you don’t have to become a registered member to use the service.

Essentially what Blogmusik allows you to do is listen to a huge collection of music FREE streamed online to your web browser. Its as simple as searching for an artist you would like to listen to, and choosing a song to play from the wide selection they have avaliable.

I tested out this service and ran a search on ‘Radiohead’ and their song collection for this artist was very expansive.

As I mentioned, there are heaps of similar websites out there which promote social networking and sharing of different musical tastes, playlists, ideas and opinions of millions of music lovers all over the internet such as and Pandora which I have both used.

So, next time you’re at school or at the office and don’t have your iPod with you, be sure to check out Blogmusik. I’m sure they’ll have the music you’re in dire need to listen to! I highly recommend this service to anyone.

Microsoft Zune: An iPod Killer?

Microsoft in the next month or two will be entering a new market in which they have never been in before, the highly competitive MP3 player market. With the huge dominance Apple have in this market with their very popular iPod line of products, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft fair with their entry called the ‘Zune’.

The Zune to retail at USD$299 (to be confirmed) will directly compete with the iPod for market share dominance this christmas holiday. Currently Apple hold an overwhelming 85% share (last time I checked) and no other company in the mp3 market so far has been able to crack Apple and their iPod music player.

Here are just some of the Zune’s features:

  • Price: USD$299 USD$249
  • Storage: 30GB
  • Manufacturer: Toshiba
  • Vendor: Microsoft
  • Video Capabilities: landscape playback, portrait playback, WMV, MPEG-4, H264
  • Audio Capabilities: MP3, AAC, WMA
  • Picture (photo): JPEG, BMP
  • Connectivity: WiFi (802.11b)
  • Power Technology: li-ion (lithium ion)
  • Comes in black, white and brown (at launch, possibly other colors in the future)

The Zune can be charged with the USB cable provided and just like the iPod, the Zune will not include a power adapter to plug into an outlet to charge the device.

With the Zune’s wireless functionality, it will be possible to view and share your song collection with other Zune users, but cannot be connected to the Internet, but more information may be release at a later date regarding online connectivity.

The Microsoft Zune Media Player looks to be a very promising contender to battle the iPod and first impressions of the device look impressive scoring great enthusiasm by many in the industry already, time will tell if it has what it takes to overtake Apple in the MP3 market.

Look out for the Zune this christmas holiday, it will be all over the place I just know it.

Screw P2P applications…use google instead

How many of you guys use applications such as Limewire, BearShare, etc to download music share legitimate files between anyone who wants it your friends and family online? Well, there is apparently an easier way to find stuff you like, all from the comfort of our favourite search engine Google.

In the search box, simply type:

“band” last modified mp3 “index of” -html -htm -php -asp

Where you replace the “band” with the band or artist you are looking for. Now ladies and gentlemen, I in no way promote or endorse illegal downloading of music or anything for that matter, just thought this was really interesting and can be used for other purposes also.

Instead of looking for files of type mp3, you could do a search for .avi files, or .mid’s or .zip files too. Here are some sample search strings looking for different file types:

“searchTerm” last modified avi “index of” -html -htm -php -asp

“searchTerm” last modified mid “index of” -html -htm -php -asp

“searchTerm” last modified zip “index of” -html -htm -php -asp

Simple as that, cool huh.

The legacy of Rick James’: Final mark

Funk legend Rick James’ new tombstone was erected at his grave site a few days ago marking the 2nd aniversary of his death.

The jet-black tombstone with Rick in a leather jacket and tight pants etched into the marble symbolizes everything Rick James was, the same image was used in his 1981 album “Street Songs” which was definately one of his biggest albums and propelled him to the huge star he came to be.

The final markings on the stone read:


James Ambrose Johnson Jr headstone

A fitting monument to a funk icon.