Going for a song: the hidden history of music piracy by Stephen Witt
Posted in: Online TV/Music at 07/06/2015 22:23
I am a member of the pirate generation. When I arrived at college in 1997, I had never heard of an MP3. By the end of my first term, I had filled my 2GB hard drive with hundreds of bootlegged songs. By graduation, I had six 20GB drives, all full. By 2005, when I moved to New York, I had collected 1,500GB of music, nearly 15,000 albums worth. It took an hour just to cue up my library, and if you ordered the songs alphabetically by artist, you'd have to listen for a year and a half to get from Abba to ZZ Top.
I pirated on an industrial scale, but told no one. It was an easy secret to keep. You never saw me at the record store and I didn't DJ parties. The files were procured on chat channels and through Napster and BitTorrent; I haven't purchased an album with my own money since the turn of the millennium. The vinyl collectors of old had filled whole basements with dusty album jackets, but my digital collection could fit in a shoebox.