13 June 2007

Making E-Time

Let's call this the second in a two-part series on music and the internet, the first of which would be located here

While writing that entry, I was reminded of the time I volunteered to work the phones for a local radio station's pledge drive. They had a sheet sitting on the table listing the number of people who had listened to the station online the previous day, which country they were from, and the total amount of time by country. The good news was that 6 people from China tuned in; the bad news was that the total amount of time the 6 of them listened to the station was less than 5 minutes. As I recall, The Netherlands topped the list with 2 people and a total of 3+ minutes; this was the only country (including the U.S.) where listeners averaged a minute or more each.

So, is there something inherently casual, or even inane, about the internet? Not for me. I block out time every so often to listen (REALLY listen, that is) to music on other musicians' websites and read articles and blogs that are relevant to my musical endeavors. Of course I enjoy it, but I am very careful to make it constructive. When my attention span lapses, I go do something else. If I stumble on something I'm not interested in, I move on quickly.

The best thing about the internet is also the worst thing about it: everything is just a click away. This has yielded great advances in communications, but it also presents an unparalleled opportunity for fickleness to get the better of the user. The internet isn't doing anyone any good if no one takes advantage of it, but it's also not much good when used for trivial reasons either.

Finally, here's an excerpt from a recent Electronic Frontier Foundation newsletter that dovetails nicely with what I wrote previously about physical storage devices:

The NPD Group's latest music stats provide yet another reason that the RIAA's war on college students is misguided:

"The 'social' ripping and burning of CDs among friends -- which takes place offline and almost entirely out of reach of industry policing efforts -- accounted for 37 percent of all music consumption, more than file-sharing, NPD said."

This data suggests offline sharing is growing, and that's to be expected. Along with burning CDs and DVDs for each other, fans can swap hard drives, share USB drives, and use many other technologies to share music without hopping online or installing P2P software. It's only going to get easier to share mass volumes of music in this way -- these tools are increasingly ubiquitous, with ever-growing capacity and ever-diminishing price.

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