MIT Columnist: iTunes Music Store is no substitute for Napster

Posted by Pierre Igot in: iTunes, Music, Technology
July 4th, 2003 • 6:19 pm

Henry Jenkins at MIT’s Technology Review has a good article on what Napster really meant for him (and me and many music lovers out there) and how Apple’s iTunes Music Store, in its current incarnation, is simply no substitute for it:

… [P]erhaps Apple itself will come up with a better way for consumers to interact with each other around their music purchases. But we aren’t going to get what we want if we roll over quietly and accept the music industry myth that the only reason we liked Napster was that we could get music for free. Perhaps, in the short run, the most we can hope for is that the major labels will use iTunes to circulate their top-selling titles and then turn their back on the underground trade of MP3s from their backlist. I dream that someday Apple, AOL, Microsoft, or some other company will make me an honest man again and still give me a mechanism to connect with all of those other interesting strangers out there who know something I don’t about the hidden treasures of popular music.

Until Apple’s music store selection is widely expanded to include millions of different titles, there will simply be no substitute for the wonderful opportunity that Napster gave us to sample and discover all kinds of music that we’d never heard of otherwise.

Like the author, I never ever downloaded a current hit via Napster. On the contrary, I downloaded all kinds of “obscure” music that I had never had the chance to listen to before, and this led me to purchase more CDs than ever. The recording industry completely missed this opportunity to cater to the needs of real music lovers instead of being excessively dependent on the commercial success of recent hits.

(The fact that Technology Review has big advertisements even in its “print-ready” format for columns is a real pain, however.)

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