Music has been an integral part of our lives. Apart from entertainment, the music that we use and consume is also a great self-promotional tool. For instance, Andersson & Rosenqvist (2006, p. 98) observe that, especially in young consumers, using music as ringtone to express individualism has become a current trend, and this is also reflected by their perceived need to keep their ringtone up-to-date.

New means of consumption

Before the advent of Internet, obtaining music used to be very difficult. This is because of three reasons: inaccessibility, inflexibility and high cost. However, ever since the new genres came into our lives, these have not been an issue anymore.

Goggin (2006, p. 316) defines the new genres as “a suite of digital communications technologies that are variously mobile and/or multimedia and/or networked”. Furthermore, Bryant & Tompson (2002, p. 367) note that content in these new genres are extremely flexible as they can easily convert into other formats and merge with other genres with a very low storage requirement.

In terms of accessing to music, it means that we no longer need to carry our CD player everywhere, because our music in a digital format can almost be played in any genre, from our cell phones, iPod, to laptop. Also, free music nowadays is available to us in abundance on the Internet that most of us no longer travel to music shops to obtain music. However, this also means most people who obtain music through Internet often opt to illegal downloading and file-sharing than purchasing them through some legal music service providers.

As Gorard et al. (2005, p. 6) state, Internet has now become a means of production and consumption, it is of little surprise that Napster has decided to launch a new online music store (‘Napster launches MP3 music store’ 2008). It is said to be an effort to combat illegal downloading activities that have threatened the revenues of many music companies.

Copyright

Copyright (Wikimedia 2008)

Copyright (Wikimedia 2008)

But as far as Copyright law is concerned, the purpose of such law is to “safeguard creators and other producers of intellectual goods and services by granting them certain time-limited rights to control the use made of their productions” (Garcia 2005). People who infringe the Copyright law by procuring and using others’ intellectual goods (such as music) without permission from the creators have no respect for the hard work others invest in the creation of these intellectual goods.

Digital Right Management (DRM)

To amplify its effort, this time Napster has offered to eliminate the Digital Right Management (DRM) which was originally intended to grant owners greater control over the distribution of their creations (Consumer’s guide to Digital Right Management n.d.). But the removal of this means that buyers can enjoy more flexibility in transferring the music they purchase from Napster from one genre to another, making full use of the new technology.

As more and more music lovers have chosen to obtain music through the straight way (‘Music fans back legal downloads’ 2008), I would say, this is a lauded compromise from the music industry.

References:

Andersson, P & Rosenqvist, C 2006, ‘Mobile music, customer value, and changing market needs’, International Journal on Media Management, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 92-130.

Bryant, J & Thompson, S 2002, Fundamentals of Media Effects, McGraw-Hill, New York.

Consumer’s guide to Digital Right Management n.d, Indicare. Viewed 13 November, 2008, from

http://www.indicare.org/tiki-download_file.php?fileId=195

Garcia, R 2005, A semantic web approach to Digital Right Management. Viewed 13 November, 2008, from

http://rhizomik.net/~roberto/thesis/

Goggin, G 2006, ‘The internet, online and mobile cultures’ in Cunningham, S & Turner, G 2006, The Media & Communications in Australia, Southwood Press, Sydney.

Gorard, S, Selwyn, N & Furlong, J 2005, ‘Whose Internet is it anyway?: exploring adults’ (non)use of the Internet in everyday life’, European Journal of Communication, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 5-26.

‘Music fans back legal downloads’ 2008, BBC, 12 October. Retrieved 13 November, 2008, from

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7664088.stm

‘Napster launches MP3 music store’ 2008, BBC, 20 May. Retrieved 13 November, 2008, from

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7409865.stm