From the Napster era all the way to the College’s popular Direct Connect system, peer-to-peer download programs have been the avid music fan’s best friend for the better part of a decade now. However, with the ever increasing presence of spyware, programs like Kazaa, Limewire, Morpheus and even DC++ have become more of an annoyance than a benefit for aficionados seeking to add tunes to their library. These problems, coupled with the lurking danger of anti-piracy lawsuits and massive fines have all but buried the download craze.
Thankfully, there is an alternative. Growing more popular by the day, music blogs have become a new harbinger for safe and legal downloading. Countless online sites allow fans to preview and stream entire CDs from some of today’s notable up-and-coming artists, as well as debut discs from some under-promoted unknown acts as they climb the ladder to rock stardom.
At only-always.blogspot.com, listeners are privy to several daily uploads of brand new CDs from both mainstream acts and well-respected indie outfits. Featured on the Web site right now are advance releases of the Foo Fighters’ “Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace,” The New Pornographers’ “At the Foot of My Rival” and metal stalwarts Bullets & Octane’s “Song for the Underdog.” Unfortunately, what only-always has in diversity, it loses in download speed. The page employs rapidshare.de, a common file-hosting site, to house its music. Rapidshare is a sluggish site at best unless you choose to pay for its premium membership. Its free service moves at the speed of a sloth and limits most users to one download per hour.
“Old, Borrowed, and New” another blogspot.com music Web site, offers a heavier dose of unknown bands, but unlike “only-always,” this page offers short reviews by some of its more frequent users, allowing first-time fans to get their bearings around the influx of new sounds. Boasting 53 new CDs in the month of September, including new releases from Wintersleep, Matt Pond PA and the surprisingly mature sophomore effort from hard-rock/screamo standouts June. The blog also wisely hosts its music on Mediafire.com a much speedier alternative to Rapidshare.
“Bolachas Gratis” takes an alternative stance on the online downloading scene, existing strictly for promotional purposes. Displaying a mixture of unknown and even foreign acts alongside mainstream pop-rock powerhouses such as The Killers and Interpol, the Web site does not allow for downloads, but rather serves as an information gathering page for listeners looking for a quick way to broaden their musical horizons.
Allmusic.com is a great Web site for people who like the idea behind “Bolachas Gratis” but are seeking a much wider array of genres. The page is teeming with reviews and exclusive interviews with bands, and is well-known as an online music magazine. However, Allmusic.com also functions as a sampling page, allowing for listeners to hear 60-second cuts from every track on the albums they review. For those who consider downloading “piracy,” or for those who just don’t trust download programs, Allmusic is a great place to stop before you head out on your next CD binge.
As it stands today, the Internet is teeming with download options for listeners campus-wide, validating the tagline of taxtser.com, a popular downlaod review Web site: “They can stop Napster, the program, but they can never stop Napster, the idea.”