Perhaps the paradigm is shifting:
- Recently, more than a few music fans who were diehard advocates of swapping songs illegally through Napster and its clones have found themselves doing something they never would have predicted: subscribing to Internet services that abide by copyright laws and paying for the music they download.
These fans once scoffed at the attempts by the record industry and others to create such subscription services, in which users pay monthly fees for access to large online music libraries. Now they are joining them.
“I’ve been walking around for a month at least saying that I’m impressed by Rhapsody,” said Ian Rogers, referring to a subscription service for which he pays $9.95 a month. Last year Mr. Rogers, an Internet and music consultant who has worked on both sides of the business (for the technology company Nullsoft and for the Beastie Boys), distributed on the Internet a scathing condemnation of the industry’s subscription services.
But recently he said: “The selection has finally reached a threshold I’m happy with, and the interface is good now. With other services before, there was a bad selection of songs, they were of bad quality, and they were hard to get to.”
Just six months ago, this sort of talk would have been unthinkable, downright apostasy, among those who consider the giant recording conglomerates the bane of free-wheeling musical access and innovation. Even those who have been won over are usually still skeptical of the power of the big corporations. And there are still plenty of fans who think the subscription sites are inferior, doomed to fail and maybe even intended to do so by their corporate sponsors.
But now, largely because of tough actions by the record companies to combat free music sites through the courts, legislation and even through techno-guerrilla tactics, there is a noticeable change of sentiment in a small segment of the downloading cognoscenti. Though their numbers are low, many are the early adapters who spot a trend first….
It has to start somewhere.
Brad Hill’s thoughts on being interviewed for this article:
- A front-page article in the Arts section of today’s NY Times features two large pictures of me in my home office, plus some information on my online listening choices. Although I was interviewed for the article several weeks ago, the decision to stage a photo shoot came just a day before publication. The Times photo editor implored me to allow a photographer into my lair, something I usually resist. Finally breaking down under her relentless entreaties, and flattered by her revelation that I was “quoted throughout” the article (hardly true), I agreed to let a photographer rush into Princeton for a shoot. Berating myself for having delayed a much-needed haircut, I dusted surfaces ferociously in preparation. For those who have seen the photo spread in the printed edition, the following notes provide some trivia and clarify a few details.
In the “What He Listens To” sidebar, quite a bit of information that I provided was cut from the “Last Year” and “This Year” lists, including the online sources for the music I cited. Following is the original list I created in response to the Times’ request: