It is no secret that the digitization of music has led to a great deal of copyright infringement, controversy regarding the rights of the underdog versus the rights of those on the forefront of the music industry, and hundreds of millions of songs illegally being downloaded per day. In short, the digitization of music has greatly facilitated the illegal downloading of music. Much of the time that we hear about this recently-popularized form of music “purchasing,” it is regarded with a highly negative connotation; yet, among the general public, we glorify this newly formed musical outlet. One site in particular revolutionized the way in which the public consumes music: Napster.
For my final project, I plan to investigate the ways in which Napster evolved as a company, including its shutdown and the ways in which it has changed from a peer-to-peer network to a legitimate company, and the ways in which it has affected the music industry. More specifically, I would like to develop a deeper understanding of the ways that Napster publicized itself and the example that it has set for further peer-to-peer sharing networks. To me, Napster seems to be a great example of how the music industry has changed and the ways in which it represents the polarized ends of the spectrum. That is due in part to the fact that throughout its history, Napster has represented the consumer population, as was demonstrated at the start of its musical career, and also reflects the corporate end of the industry which can be seen in its current status as a Best Buy company.
As a self-proclaimed music thief, this project should be particularly interesting because I feel that it will allow me greater insight into the music industry’s frustrations with the general public, as well as the contribution that I, myself, am playing in the development of power that consumers have increasingly gained over the corporate world. This industry is one that is constantly changing: the issue, however, is whether or not the corporate world and the government are ready to adapt to these changes. I feel that Napster is a great way to begin this investigation and should prove to be an exciting topic for the semester.