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An Apex in Music April 7, 2006 – 7:26 p.m. – Permalink

Businesses — small and large alike — have seen the limitless value of establishing a site on the Internet. Throughout the course of the Web’s existence, personal and corporate websites have seized control. But over the last several years, music has taken the Web scene.

In the late 1990s, music on the Web was searched for via IRC and Lycos. No sites offered music for downloading, but that all changed in 1999 with Shawn Fanning’s creation of Napster, which would become one of the most infamous companies on the Web. Surprisingly, Napster became immensely popular and in 2000 it had a very secure user base.

Napster was able to establish a large presence on the Web by offering MP3s of songs by various artists for free download. There were already ways to share music files across the Internet, but Napster became the primary resource for songs that could be downloaded easily from a friendly user interface.

In 2000, Metallica and Dr. Dre separately filed lawsuits against Napster. A song by Metallica, “I Disappear,” had leaked out onto the Internet before being released by the band itself. By the time Metallica realized the leak had occurred, the song had already been played on several radio stations. Although Napster was able to settle both lawsuits, in July 2001, it was ordered to shut down by the Ninth Circuit Court.

By this time, many people had found other ways of downloading music illegally, using software such as Kazaa, BitTorrent, and Ares. Experts were becoming concerned about the legitimacy of sites letting users download songs off their pages.

While the government was grappling with the new influx of illegal file sharing in the early 2000s, bands were popping up on the Web. By 2002, virtually all notable bands had presence on the Internet, and some bands even achieved fame through the Internet.

Case in point: Group X, which gained fame entirely from the Internet. The rap/rock group, based in Marietta, Georgia, consists of three members who are only known pseudonymously. Amazingly, Group X became famous through several videos alongside their music spread on the Internet, most notably on Albino Blacksheep (on which the search term “group x” is one of the most popular).

Then iTunes came. This versatile application by Apple Computers allowed people to download songs legally while still maintaining inexpensiveness. Also, the iPod was growing massively in popularity after the first generation was unveiled by Steve Jobs in 2001.

Since the growth of iPods nearly everywhere, the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) has gained much popularity for its simple and usable interface directly accessible through iTunes. Most songs are ninety–nine cents each, and we can certainly tell that the iTMS has become an integral part of the music industry on the Internet.

So can we conclude that there is currently an apex in music? Is there enough evidence to say that we are at the head of a generation of continual growth of the music industry throughout the world? Will the prevalent exchange of music all around the Web herald the downfall of CDs (as CDs did for cassette tapes)? We’ll see.