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But the wine and the song, like the seasons, all have gone.
December 1, 2011 11:32 AM   Subscribe

So long, Napster.
posted by griphus (61 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
It was already gone long ago once the P2P function ceased. The new service wasn't Napster, they had just branded it with a defunct name with a moderate Q score
posted by wcfields at 11:38 AM on December 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


Sean Parker went to my high school. It's like weekly someone from high school realizes this and freaks out and posts an FB status.
posted by sweetkid at 11:38 AM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


so yeah, about ten years of irrelevance. But man, it certainly was when it was.



.
posted by philip-random at 11:39 AM on December 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


Aww. I've just about gotten rid of all my low-quality P2P Napster files and replaced them with better quality ones at this point. Kind of like getting rid of all my cheap Ikea college furniture.

I think I feel old now.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:40 AM on December 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


DID YOU KNOW NAPSTER WAS NAMED AFTER HIS CAT

THE CAT LIKED TO TAKE NAPS
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:40 AM on December 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


So long, songs with the wrong name and/or wrong band! You won't be missed.
posted by Yowser at 11:40 AM on December 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I always got cooler stuff from Audiogalaxy back in the day.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:41 AM on December 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


This is kind of like when Geocities shutdown. I hadn't used it in years. I forgot it even existed. But, when I heard it was shutting down, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia.

I'm not sure which surprises me more, though, that Napster was still around or that Rhapsody bought them out.
posted by asnider at 11:42 AM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


YOU'LL NEVER SHUT DOWN THE REAL NAPSTER!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 11:43 AM on December 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, that's one less revenue stream. So long, Napster, and thanks for the $0.17!
posted by malocchio at 11:44 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yowser: So long, songs with the wrong name and/or wrong band! You won't be missed.

Wait, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin and Prodigy didn't cover Popcorn?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:44 AM on December 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wait, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin and Prodigy didn't cover Popcorn?

I, for one, will miss the 400,000 counterfeit versions of early Boards of Canada releases.
posted by mykescipark at 11:47 AM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Every parody and/or song that contained even a remote attempt at humor was written and recorded by "Wierd Al Yankovich."
posted by griphus at 11:49 AM on December 1, 2011 [17 favorites]


Let's not forget the time Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Steve Vai collaborated on a version of Dust in the Wind that sounded suspiciously like it was recorded in a garage by a garage band.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:54 AM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


So long, songs with the wrong name and/or wrong band! You won't be missed.

You know it's been ages since I listened to any Arrowsmith songs.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:54 AM on December 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


So long, songs with the wrong name and/or wrong band! You won't be missed.


I downloaded a file that was labelled "Chris Cornell" but was actually Coldplay. shudders
posted by dry white toast at 11:57 AM on December 1, 2011


I too miss Audiogalaxy the most.
posted by sourwookie at 11:57 AM on December 1, 2011


Napster, the music-industry scourge godsend that they pissed away
posted by victors at 11:58 AM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Napster and Diamond Multimedia, thank you both. You were the legal crumple zone of our miraculous internet age. Somebody had to take that first, bad hit for the team, and we will always remember you well for it.

.
posted by mhoye at 11:59 AM on December 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


The latter-day version of Napter - which is barely even mentioned in this article - was essentially a subcription streaming service, right? That idea seemed like a ripoff in 2004, but it's clearly the direction music is moving in now.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:59 AM on December 1, 2011


griphus - or by Dr. Demento.
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:02 PM on December 1, 2011


fucking lars ulrich
posted by jabberjaw at 12:05 PM on December 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


Wait, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin and Prodigy didn't cover Popcorn?

Or how about the bluegrass cover of "Gin and Juice" that was ostensibly by Phish?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on December 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Or how about the bluegrass cover of "Gin and Juice" that was ostensibly by Phish?

My first copy was 'by' the Barenaked Ladies, Empress
posted by pupdog at 12:09 PM on December 1, 2011


Damn you for banning me, Metallica! DAMN YOU.

Napster's heydey was when I was both less rigorous in my adherence to copyright law and when my taste in music was less rigorous in terms of quality.

Who am I kidding, my taste in music is still pretty shoddy. But I pay for my music anyway. Still, fuck you Hetfield.
posted by Justinian at 12:15 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


What, Napster offered mp3s with incorrect information? Poppycock!
posted by mathowie at 3:15 PM on December 1 [+][!]
posted by tommasz at 12:21 PM on December 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


The new service wasn't Napster

Right, the original company went bankrupt back in 2002 and sold off all of its assets. And unlike other similar cases such as Atari where there is some sort of actual content that lives on with the new company, the new version of Napster really had nothing in common with the old one other than the name and logo.

The latter-day version of Napter - which is barely even mentioned in this article - was essentially a subcription streaming service, right? That idea seemed like a ripoff in 2004, but it's clearly the direction music is moving in now.

It was actually a weird hybrid of a subscription service for unlimited DRM-crippled music downloads and a DRM-free MP3 download store. The future seems to be ad-supported free streaming services that make most of their money through some sort of optional subscription premium streaming service. Ironically some services like Grooveshark and YouTube have the exact same upload whatever you want features as Napster did, it's just that the modern services actually follow the DMCA takedown rules and have licensing agreements with the major media companies.

I always got cooler stuff from Audiogalaxy back in the day

FTP sites, IRC and a few other niche technologies were also other good options for music trading back when Napster was around. As others have mentioned, Napster's content was some of the least organized content of any similar sharing systems. Mostly that was due to the fact that by default it would scan your computer for all sound files and share them automatically. That resulted in some odd side effects like people accidentally sharing odd personal recordings that could be found by searching for the default file names used by popular sound recording software.

The closest real successor to Napster is probably Soulseek, which was written by a former Napster programmer and became popular just after Napster and Audiogalaxy shut down. It uses a very similar centralized P2P scheme and is primarily for music, unlike many of the other P2P file sharing systems that Napster inspired. Amazingly it's still around although it never reached the popularity of either Napster or more popular file sharing systems that have been created since.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:21 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


At a tech conference in October, Napster co-founded Sean Parker reflected on the massive changes the music industry has undergone in the 12 years since Napster launched. He sees the field as having finally come full circle.

"Spotify is an attempt to finish what I started at Napster," said Parker, who is a Spotify investor and sits on the company's board.
People say Zuckerburg got screwed by The Social Network. Clearly the person who got screwed the hardest was Shawn Fanning
posted by delmoi at 12:22 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Napster, where half my songs were attributed to They Might Be Giants.
posted by lothar at 12:26 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Napster, where half my songs were attributed to They Might Be Giants.

I think I thought I was a bigger They Might Be Giants fan than I ever really was, thanks to Napster's notoriously mislabelled files. (Well, not Napster's files, but you know what I mean.)
posted by asnider at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2011


DED KITTY
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:38 PM on December 1, 2011


Jesus, I thought it died years ago.
posted by Decani at 12:50 PM on December 1, 2011


That New Order song I was trying to get over dial-up would probably still be downloading.
posted by hot_monster at 12:53 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the very first months of Napster, someone digitized and shared a lot of otherwise impossible to find Neutral Milk Hotel bootlegs. I'd like to thank that person.
posted by keratacon at 12:58 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do those include the Synthetic Flying Machine version of April 8th because mother of fuck I cannot find that thing again for the life of me?

(Also the first NMH song I ever heard was a bootleg of "My Dream Girl Don't Exist" I got off Napster.)
posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2011


Ah, yes, Napster. I remember when I determined -- as the sole network admin -- that people running Napster were taking up 27% of the company's bandwidth and 9% of its personal disk storage, over half of which was a single user. Good times.
posted by dhartung at 1:10 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Napster, then Audiogalaxy, then that weird quasi-legal Russian site that Putin shut down due pressure from the US State department.

Good times in the wild west of early file sharing.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:10 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I went Napster, Limewire/Kazaa for a while (I hated Audiogalaxy), then Soulseek. Which, as burnmp3s mentioned above, actually still works just fine.
posted by penduluum at 1:19 PM on December 1, 2011


I love how everything about Soulseek works because not enough people care about Soulseek. It's dodged big company lawyers because not enough people use it, and the ones that do don't share things that the big companies care about. And their donation-based queue-skipping works because they know that enough people won't donate for it to stop working.
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on December 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess Bob Dylan didn't sing Stuck In The Middle With You after all.
posted by smoothvirus at 1:35 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wish someone would write a Social History Of Napster. I was on it from the early days and saw its usage change in interesting ways.

At the beginning it was just whatever pop songs students had on their computers, but at some point fans of particular bands discovered that this was a great way to trade rare tracks. Napster also had a chat feature, and there were still few enough participants that it got used quite a lot. If someone was downloading your Martin Newell cassettes you could probably strike up a conversation about the greatest living Englishman; other folks were just super-social and would chat up random people.

And then at some point the Seymours discovered Napster, the old men with huge collections of ancient discs. There are other freaks out there who want to hear my weird records! They learned about sound cards and A-to-D converters and the LAME MP3 encoder, and began painstakingly digitizing their music. This was probably even more important than Napster itself: the great amateur push to make lots of old records available as sound files. Middle-aged adults with records and tapes from their local music days converted them to MP3s, and soon the index was awash in rock from Aberystwyth and folk from Invercargill.

Napster was no longer just a swap service, it was a complete historical music library for those patient enough to keep searching.

The RIAA attacks began in earnest, and Napster handled them in a curious way -- blocking individual words in song titles. Suddenly your MP3 could no longer contain the word "Sandman" or "Puppets" or "Y", and we scrambled to invent renaming schemes; you could hide the real name in the ID3 tag which finally became popular. (Modern music programs like iTunes only use the ID3 information, but in the Napster days everyone just put the (incorrect) artist & title in the file name.)

And then things shut down, and we moved to other services which were shut down, and we learned that "the internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it" is utter nonsense when first-world governments get involved.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2011 [17 favorites]


YOU'LL NEVER SHUT DOWN THE REAL NAPSTER!!!!!

They haven't, The Deej. Word.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:48 PM on December 1, 2011


oh well, i liked audiogalaxy better ayway
posted by 3mendo at 2:07 PM on December 1, 2011


Napster, I thank you for my copy of the song "Bubba the Redneck Diabetic".
posted by benzenedream at 2:27 PM on December 1, 2011


AudioGalaxy was AWESOME. I could leave the client running on my home machine, and then log into the service at work and queue stuff up. So I'd spend twenty minutes running through some pre-hacked search strings of stuff I wanted, queue up a few hundred songs until I hit the limit (500 at a time) and then wait a couple hours for my next break and repeat the process. I'd get home and find a few thousand new files waiting for me. Best service ever. I won't even touch modern P2P networks.
posted by inthe80s at 2:31 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


On Napster, if it was a funny song, Weird Al sang it, even if it was Yakety Sax.
posted by crapmatic at 2:33 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, if I heard Weird Al playing Yakety Sax, I think I could die happy. And I'm not really a fan of either.

Which is an appropriate comment to make in a thread about Napster because, for as much music as I downloaded from there that I knew I wanted, I downloaded three times as more that I thought I wanted in the moment that I would have never spent money on, not even 99 cents. Some of those led to me being bigger fans of the groups than I would have been if not. There's a lesson there, but I'm not telling you, dear reader, anything you don't already know.

People say Zuckerburg got screwed by The Social Network. Clearly the person who got screwed the hardest was Shawn Fanning

Depends on if you think 'not getting a douchey version of yourself played by Justin Timberlake' is a win or not. But thanks for clearing that up for me - as I didn't realize until now that there were two Seans, and always remembered Fanning looking different than Parker and Which is appropriate because they are actually different people. And as we've noted, that kind of close-but-not-quite labeling error is also appropriate for a death thread for Napster.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:41 PM on December 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


At least I'll always have my 96bps CBR MP3 copy of The Who's most famous song, "Teenage Wasteland."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:43 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I went Napster, Limewire/Kazaa for a while (I hated Audiogalaxy), then Soulseek. Which, as burnmp3s mentioned above, actually still works just fine.

That was pretty much exactly my trajectory, too, except that I didn't actually know about Audiogalaxy at the time.
posted by asnider at 3:04 PM on December 1, 2011


I mourned the death of the original. I shrug at shooting this zombie in the head.
posted by tyllwin at 4:45 PM on December 1, 2011


hot_monster: That New Order song I was trying to get over dial-up would probably still be downloading.

Hah, if you think Napster on dial-up was bad, try the pre-Napster days of FTP sites with upload:download ratios. Upload a few songs, hope you stay online long enough to download a few more, and pray that they're actually something you want. That world of proto-P2P was indexed by a few websites, one of which had something to do with a frog, if I recall correctly. And then there was Hotline, which shined (in they eyes of casual internet pirates) for a moment before Napster.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:10 PM on December 1, 2011


Inspired by much of this thread, I've spent too much of my day doing Google searches on misheard songs, and I'd like to announce to anyone still following this thread that, despite Napster as we knew it being long gone, there is no fear of the mistitled song gong anywhere as long as song365 and other "helpful" lyrics sites built by computers exist.

That said, as long as there are people, there will be wrong; as evidence I present:

How did The Who's "Teenage Wasteland" also become known as "Baba O'Riley"?

sorry for derail, but for some reason, I find this unbelievably funny.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:24 PM on December 1, 2011


YOU'LL NEVER SHUT DOWN THE REAL NAPSTER!!!!!

They haven't, The Deej. Word.
posted by IAmBroom


Indeed.
posted by The Deej at 5:24 PM on December 1, 2011


I remember a fake version of Metallica's St. Anger being traded around before the real album was released. It was basically half Pantera songs, and some other ones I didn't recognize, with plausibly Metallica-sounding song titles. It was painfully obvious to me that it wasn't the real deal, but there were actually (glowing) reviews of this thing on a few message boards.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 5:41 PM on December 1, 2011


How long was I out? Is Napster still a thing?
posted by jschu at 8:39 PM on December 1, 2011


filthy light thief: "Hah, if you think Napster on dial-up was bad, try the pre-Napster days of FTP sites with upload:download ratios"

This prompted me to go check, and holy shit, oth.net is still online.(!)

I ran a ratio ftp site out of my dorm room in the fall of '99, complete with updated motd's, a request area, bonus ratio for uploading something I was looking for, etc...

Then I jumped on CuteMX and was downloading movies when that was new and amazing (anyone else remember downloading movies in asf format, split into 2 files per, at like 320x240 res? good times)
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:52 PM on December 1, 2011


Oh god, Napster and audiogalaxy and don't forget mp3.com which was never quite as obviously infringing as the first two and from where I downloaded quite a few James Kochalka Superstar songs all over my painfully slow 56k dialup modem. And then there were also the people in Quake internet deathmatch sessions trying to get you to trade mp3s...
posted by MartinWisse at 12:33 AM on December 2, 2011


I've still got a copy of John Lennon "Cold Turkey" with Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick guitar) playing on it, it's really sweet. I got tons of oldies, tons of country singles, lots of Bill Hicks riffs, pretty much a little bit of everything.

One night on napster I saw this record with an interesting title; now, I know you can't judge a book by the cover (or the title) but still, it caught my interest. So I downloaded a song off the record, liked it immediately, downloaded another, liked it, too, downloaded the whole cd, and played the shit out of it for weeks. But some of the mp3s had wobbles in them so I went out and bought the cd Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea by PJ Harvey.

I learned about lots of artists that way. Record execs are such idiots. I *still* buy cds, mostly, rip them.

It could have been a great thing, stupid greed got in the way. Glad we had it when we did.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:05 AM on December 2, 2011


I remember the first time I used Napster, my brother told me about it. I downloaded a song (at 6kb/sec) and thought, cool.

Then I suddenly realised, hang on, I can pretty much listen to any song I like, right now! Anything I can think of!

And my world shifted on its axis a bit.

Sure beat searching for song names in Alta Vista :)
posted by dave99 at 2:45 AM on December 2, 2011


I missed Napster, but I used to use WinMX back in the day, on my unlimited-but-the-connection-drops-after-2-hrs-so-you-have-to-redial dial-up. So many frustrating times trying to download any song over three minutes long.

SoulSeek seemed to be mostly adopted by bootleggers and indie fanboys, so it was perfect for finding rare Thomas Tantrum songs. The mainstream folk went with Limewire and Kazaa.
posted by mippy at 6:13 AM on December 2, 2011


Remember when that "supergroup" Audioslave's album leaked onto Napster/Audiogaaxy like... over a year before it was released? Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine, both hugely popular bands had just broken up so many were really exited about hearing it. Then everybody got this and it sounded so bad that everybody made fun of this rough demo they leaked out. Then the exact same album, maybe with some better mastering, was released and is probably still played daily on rock radio.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:15 AM on December 2, 2011


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