I have always been a big fan of music. When I was younger, I didn’t really have any music tastes. I would, like the majority of young kids my age, listen to the mainstream chart. The late 80s and early 90s saw a mix bag of musical talent. But I didn’t really pay much attention, I was too busy, learning the how to use my computer, playing football and watching television.

It was in 1996, when I finally got onto the internet through CompuServe and then AOL, that I rekindled my passion for music. I started by downloading and listening to midi files (music instrumental device interface). These were basically melodies of songs. Keyboards, playing the song. However, I longed to be able to do something beyond this. I wanted to be able to create (or ‘burn!’) my own CDs. This was left as a dream. I continued to mass, quite a big midi collection, but I knew, in reality, it was meaningless.

In 1997, I was watching [.tv channel], which used to broadcast on Sky, back on the analogue signal. A viewer had written in, requesting the desire, to be able to copy, an audio CD on to their hard disk. This was laughed at, by the panel of so-called “experts”. They made an important point, that just a single track would take over 40mb of space. It was not until a year later, that I discovered, WinAmp, and the MP3 file. Basically, what MP3 does, is compress a CD track, to an amazing size. One minute of audio, becomes only 1mb of data on the PC. This was an amazing discovery. Now, fans of music could exchange audio across the web, with reasonable download times. Then came Napster. This was to be the breakthrough program for MP3. It allowed people to share their MP3 collection across the internet, using a process called P2P (peer-to-peer). The music files are stored on your computer, but a list is available to other Napster users. They the connect through the Napster network to the user’s machine. I remember, spending weekends, just logged onto the internet, downloading, track after track. It was heaven. Could this last forever?

However, Napster was too good to be true. The US government got involved, once some music labels and artists (Metallica) took the company to court. There was panic. Napster, was then overloaded, during its final online weekend. A court, had decided to close the service down, due to copyright infringement. At the eleventh hour, the order was retracted, and Napster users, sighed in collective relief. It was to be short lived. The service administrators, had to filter out any illegal copies of songs. This rendered the program useless, although some users, tried to rename songs to disguise their actual contents. This worked but only temporarily! Napster was closed, and would be bringing back a paid service a few months later.

It was 2000, and MP3 fans across the globe, did not have an alternative, after Napster. Although several had sprung up across the web, there was not one that looked promising. Then, while at university, I stumpled upon, Audio Galaxy Satellite. This was a turning point. A neat, small program, downloaded onto my system, would provide the status of all the current, download and uploads. All the searching, and downloading was web based. This was backed up by an extensive help facility, and message boards. I used this program for the next 10 months, with no problems. downloading around 4Gb worth of high quality MP3s. Again, I had a feeling, that this was all too good to last. As expected, the US legal system got involved, and songs began to get censored.

By this time, I had been recommended a new service. Morpheus. This was a program, that enabled you to search for videos, software, images as well as music. Amazing. It was fast. I also had the ability, temporarily of downloading high quality songs. The problem was that although you could find most of the songs, you looked for, they were of poor quality and at times incomplete. I continued to use Morpheus, until Kazaa, come and took over. It is an identical program, with a much wider network capacity.

My MP3 Collection

I try, unsuccessfully to recall the first MP3 I downloaded, but it is difficult to find this out. All I can find, is the oldest MP3 in my collection. It is – Enya – Anywhere Is, downloaded on Sunday 29th March 1998. However, I started with an MP3 collection of around 11 songs. My collection has now grown to over 3000 songs. Smashing the 2000 mark towards the end of December 2002. I now have a seperate 200gb drive dedicated to the digital medium.