The original file sharing program, Napster was the first exposure I had in getting exposed to mainstream music. Sure there was the radio and CD’s but I had grown up not owning a huge collection of music. I remember still using cassette players growing up and then slowly migrating to a sony CD player. Napster was the first time that music was available and was *free*. Back then I didn’t understand the concept of how bad it really was to just share music like that. I was in middle school and it just really blew up on the school’s computers where we were downloading music to every computer we were exposed to.
Other programs like Kazaa popped up after Napster especially when it was determined what they were doing was not morally right. I did have my own period where I downloaded some music in this way but I think almost everyone around my age did. What these programs did was transform the way music is transmitted. It ushered in a new digital age where music now became even easier to get a hold of. Ipods became popular and people could download certain songs and not necessarily a whole album.
Now the most popular programs include Pandora and Spotify. Pandora allows you to stream Internet radio with restrictions of how many songs you can skip in an hour and not allowing you to pick exactly what song you want. It will however find songs that are similar to the genre or artist you selected which is a nice feature. Spotify is a bit different in that it allows you to make a playlist and then play off of that. Both sites offer premium packages to get rid of ads (that’s the main source of income for them to pay the artists for rights to play their music). However, hearing an ad now and then is not a bad deal to me if I can listen to a lot of music for free.
These programs have really helped me explore what are popular songs that I would enjoy and find new artists based on those likes. Music is a big part of life in that I use it to help me focus or to tune out other background noise from time to time. I think without these programs I would not have had the chance to really grow up with such a diverse background of music genres and for that I am thankful because I have an appreciation for just about every genre (the exception is Country though :D).