Strong opinions, weakly held

MP3 2000

Scott Rosenberg reposts a piece on MP3 from 2000. Here’s my favorite sentence:

Today, though, “having” a new music release is beginning to mean something as vague as having a particular file on your computer’s hard drive.

Here in 2009, the idea that having something means that it exists as a file doesn’t seem vague to most people at all. I don’t think it seemed vague to me back then, either. This also led me to wonder when I first encountered MP3 — I know for sure I started using WinAmp in 1997.

Rosenberg’s comments on the wrongheadedness of the music industry are amazing to read in retrospect. The obvious path was out there, and the recording industry is still hesitant to take it.


  1. To me, the biggest awkwarness about this is when people exclaim ‘I have that song’ or ‘I have that album’ and they mean that they illegally downloaded it.

    I don’t particularly care whether it is on disc medium or downloaded as MP3, but IMO you it’s silly to say that you ‘have’ an album when you never paid for it. If you download it illegally, better say nothing, or just that you know the music.

    I mean, the purpose of making such a statement to another person in a conversation usually serves to show that you like the music, that you support the musician, that you took the effort to go out and buy their CD, because you like it so much. Doing that for something you never paid for seems rather meaningless.

  2. I dunno — I think it means you have the album on hand, whether through purchase, gift, or theft, and thus that you’ve listened to it enough to know it well, to have internalized it. and not just the popular tracks, but the whole thing. I think it’s about depth of familiarity, not the effort that went into achieving that familiarity…

  3. If the music business wants to know the right way to do things, and they’re not on board with this already, they should be on the phone with Amazon.

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