With the announcement today of new iPods and a new iTunes, I think it’s time we reflected on how far we’ve come since the days of Napster and the wild west of music downloading. Along with the introduction of brand new iPods, etc. come some cold hard facts about music downloads in the current music retail climate. The numbers are fairly impressive, at least from an iTunes standpoint. In little more than a decade, iTunes has become the largest music retailer on the planet. Translation: people are buying music. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t twice as many people still downloading music illegally, but it’s a significant change that’s worth noting.
I had an enlightening moment two days ago when I went to download a Prince song (…illegally). I wasn’t looking for an entire album (BitTorrent), but only a single track from Prince’s seminal Purple Rain. How to get it? All my previous methods of obtaining a song illegally have been exhausted. LimeWire has lost in court, the other P2Ps having dropped out years ago. Even Lala, a site I had high hopes for in its golden era, has been shut down. I chuckle to myself as I realize I have nowhere to go but Amazon or iTunes to procure the track I’m looking for. What has the world come to?