One Graham's View

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Napster: it isn't what it used to be, but it ain't bad

Good afternoon,

If you know me, you know that I love listening to music and have an extensive mp3 collection. I first got into gathering mp3s using the original Napster file sharing program. However, I also have ripped my entire CD collection, numbering several hundred CDs, onto my hard drive. So, the most consuming portion of my hard drive is my music folder.

After Napster lost its legal challenges and settled, I didn’t really think it would really be able to do anything worthhwhile. However, just because you can’t download songs for free doesn’t mean the site has no value.

Have you tried the
site lately?
You can search the site’s vast database of music and spoken word files for your favorites by artist, album, or individual track name. Don’t let the term “spoken word” make you run screaming from the room, thinking you will be facing hours of drudgery as people recite poems you don’t understand. Think about your favorite comedian. Yes, stand up comedy is spoken word. I’ve seen many comedians in my time and most of them can’t carry a tune in a wheelbarrow, so spoken word is the best way to describe what they are offering. One of my favorite comedians, Eddie Murphy, is represented very well on Napster.

If you find your favorite artist or band, you can find albums and listen to the entire album on the site as a streaming file. You can also choose to listen to individual tracks. You must first set up a user profile. Then you can listen to a track three times for free before you will not be able to play it any longer. However, if you like it that much, you can buy it and download it. That’s the Napster model—three for free, but then you pay to play.

It isn’t a bad site. ON the contrary; it is a very good site. I like it as it is very comprehensive. I’ve listened to a Molly Hatchet album that I have most of the tracks for, but had a few missing pieces, a Great White album and several Eddie Murphy tracks. I searched for several more mainstream artists and liked the selection. There are so many of my favorites that I could probably play tracks from most of them and still never run beyond the three play limit.

There is one downside. If you are like me and have a family member working overseas, the files most likely won’t play for them. The user must be using an IP address in the US. I suppose that has something to do with copyrights, contracts, or some other legality.

Anyhow, if you want to listen to music on your computer (and are in the US,) give Napster a try. It isn’t the peer-to-peer file sharing system that it once pioneered, but the model it has evolved into is a pretty good way to listen to music.



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