Written by Joey Tsoi
Edited by Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
How many people listen to music? How do people obtain that music? I’m sure most of you choose to download your music, whether you pay for it or not. Downloading MP3s has changed the music industry for the past decade. It has created controversy as well as profitable alternatives. I mean, who really wants to buy a whole CD when there are only two to three marketable tracks most people want to listen to?
I’ve been part of the music game since I was 10 or 11. When I was a kid, no one around me really had access to the internet. Back then; you only had the internet if you really knew what was out there. Thankfully for me, my dad was a senior high school teacher delving in math and computer topics. He knew what the internet was all about and our household had access to the web. I still remember we were using NetZero when it was still free. I think when I was in grade 7 or 8 was when all my friends around me started getting access to the internet (high speed internet came out at that time).
Before that, I was using dial-up connection, using AOL and Audiogalaxy to get my tunes (and this was before Napster was released). The AOL world was a nasty one; it was like the black market of the internet. You had to have files worthy of downloading to obtain files from other members. It was basically file trading and I literally had nothing to give in return for Warez that I wanted. Not only that, but you had to have access to private channels that AOL is unaware of to obtain your files. I remember I was only able to download a couple audio tracks in .wav format (and .mp3 files had been around then for 9 years). Couple years later Napster was released and we all know where that went.
But why did I do it? Why do we all do it? It’s as if we implicitly ignore the fact that downloading music (without paying) violates copyright law. As kids, I’m sure none of us could afford music CD’s and it seems like a waste of money to pay $20 for 10-12 tracks but you only want to listen to two. Back then, I really wanted to buy Eminem’s “The Marshal Mathers LP”. But on a weekly allowance it was hard for me to afford. Not only that, but I think my mom would kill me if she found a “Parental Advisory” CD in my room at that age. So I did what anyone of us would do today, and downloaded the entire CD track by track. And 20 minutes to download 1 MP3 file back then was fast.
That’s what the music game was and still is today to me. Now that I am older I want to support the artists that I love listening to. When I got older I bought all the Dre and Em CD’s if I had downloaded any of their music illegally in the past. If you want to see more from your artists you need to buy their music.
There’s also plenty of free legal music to go around. Emerging hip-hop artists need to release mixtapes to gain exposure. Most of the time those mixtapes are better than what they would release when they gain their fame (Drake is a good example). These guys need to be heard and I think people can’t interpret the fine line between quality versus a platinum status album. How many of you claim “so and so” is your favourite artists but you have never bought a single track or CD of theirs? Yes, that means you need to go out and support your favourite artists.