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History Of Free Mp3 Music Download

By Doug G

The 1990’s were the pioneering days of free mp3s. These were savage days of unbridled downloading, with no laws, regulations, or restrictions – and, music fans loved it. With P2P (peer to peer) music-sharing, it was no longer necessary for fans to purchase an entire album to get one good song. 1999 was the height of the free mp3 music download.

Fans were downloading free music as if it were going out of style, and at the time, they didn’t have a clue that’s exactly what was about to happen. In 2000, the first major opponent, since P2P had become really popular, appeared.

Superstar metal/hard rock band, Metallica discovered that a demo of theirs “I Disappear” was floating around the internet, before it was officially released. Metallica was tipped off when radio stations accidentally started playing the song, assuming it had already been released. Metallica filed a law suit, and soon after them, so did Dr. Dre.

Rockers, rappers, and record labels complained that they were losing profits. They built their argument around the premise that peer to peer music-sharing not only hurt sales, but violated copyright laws. Advocates of the free mp3 music download intended to keep it that way and claimed they were forced to download mp3s because the artists and record labels were no longer producing quality music that was worthy of being purchased.

After much fighting, the United States Government had to step in to settle the dispute. The Government shut down P2P music sharing and criminalized it with heavy fines and possible jail-time; this was a huge blow to advocates of free music, but, instead of lying down and accepting the sentence, hundreds of underground file-sharing sites sprung up to fight the government and big business, under the premise that the government couldn’t catch them all. As a David and Goliath battle ensued, both sides soon realized that neither could definitively “win.”

Since there could be no victor, businesses realized they would have to find another way. Offering better quality mp3s at faster download rates was their only option. As increasing numbers of people signed up with pay-music sites, it seemed as if free mp3s were going the way of the dinosaur – especially since most remaining P2P sites were littered with computer viruses, spam, and pornography.

Today, there are plenty of places to download mp3s, but unfortunately, most of these sites require members to either purchase or rent songs. Renting songs usually takes the form of a monthly fee which members pay, allowing them access to an expansive download library. However, if a person cancels their membership, they no longer have access to any of the music they’ve downloaded, unless they’ve purchased it.

The existence of the free mp3 music download would look fairly bleak if it weren’t for the few legal music sites that uphold the tradition of free mp3s as they were meant to be.

© 2006

About the Author: Doug G, EZ Tracks Editor,

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