A Downloading Story

Downloading music has become as ubiquitous as using email in this digital age. Now some of you out there on the internets are downloading music illegally. Some are walking the straight and narrow and spending less than a dollar per song for the privilege.

Yesterday morning I had a download experience that, while probably wasn’t unique, does show how ordinary it is to find a song, find a way to get it on your computer and onto the media of your choice in essentially no time at all.

Here’s my story… I was getting dressed for work and I was listening to the 80s rock radio station. Now, I listen to this station because, frankly, they play my kind of classic rock and I’m a classic rock kinda guy.

I finish getting dressed and they play a song I don’t readily recall, “My Sweet Nicole.” Now, this is a strange occurrence because I pretty much know the 80s rock catalogue and even a few one-hit wonders and this one wasn’t really lighting any bulbs in my brain. I liked the song, but had no idea who the band or artist was that recorded it.

So what do I do? I get online and Google the song title, which is at best a guess. I find a lyrics site that tells me the band name is Point Blank. I have never heard of Point Blank.

My next step is to head over to the iTunes music store to see if it’s available there. I search for “My Sweet Nicole” to no avail and searching Point Blank gives me some other band. I’ve exhausted my online legal recourses. I can’t check out Wal-Mart’s online store because I have an iMac and Wal-Mart thinks it can compete with Apple regarding downloading music.

My next step is a BitTorrent search site. I like BitTorrent because it has a wide array of material and I usually can find what I’m looking for, but not always. I search for “My Sweet Nicole” and Point Blank and get lots of hits for “Grosse Point Blank,” but nothing for “My Sweet Nicole.” Curses, foiled again.

I close down my browser and minimize iTunes and load up Limewire. Now Limewire isn’t always the most reliable avenue, but occasionally I’ve gotten lucky finding some obscure track or comic book PDF. I type in “My Sweet Nicole” and low and behold it comes right up as an option. I double click to download it and away we go.

After a few minutes, I have an mp3 file of the song I just heard on the radio about ten minutes ago. It plays fine in iTunes and I think about loading it on my iPod before realizing that I ought to start heading for work.

So, that’s my story. I found the song, tried the legal way first and ultimately got it for “free.” Of course, I’m probably denying somebody royalties, but why would I drive to Best Buy or Sam Goody, look for an album by the artist, decide if I want to pay $18 for one CD for one song if I’m lucky enough to find it in the first place? That’s just insane.

The sooner the record industry starts understanding the ramifications of the simple act of why downloading a song or an album for that matter is easier and better than going to a store, the better it will be for everyone. Evolve or die.