Many moons ago there was this nifty program called Napster. A lot of you may have heard of it even if it was only a reference in the movie about the creation of Facebook. I believe it was also mentioned in The Italian Job by Seth Green’s character.
Napster was our first opportunity to use the internet to download “free” music. Each computer connected to Napster worked as its own server. Say I wanted to download a song by the Doors. I would do a search, find the fastest download speed available (bear in mind we were all still on dial-up when this thing started) and then connect for my free song. If I had a song on my computer someone else wanted they could connect to mine and download away as long as I stayed connected to the internet. There were a TON of interrupted downloads back then. It could be very frustrating. Add in the slow dial-up speeds and, well, we were much more patient 15 years ago.
Napster fell apart when the record companies and lawyers had fits of nasty greed. Metallica really really wanted the estimated $.60 per song they felt they were losing. I understand their point but people were tired of being held hostage. We were forced to buy entire CD’s to get one song. Tell you what. At $17.99 per album, with 13 songs on that album and I only wanted one song… well, I want my $16.61 back that I had to pay for crappy music. Would the lawyers and accountants enjoy dealing with that? But we the people were supposed to. Whatever. This is a rant I should not go on and there’s a whole different point to this posting.
Black Flag was an interesting group. Some of you may have heard of them. I was never into the punk or heavy scene, not especially, so I never listened to their music. One of the random searches I did on Napster brought up an hour long track that was by Henry Rollins and was entitled “The Adventures of an Asshole”. I had read a few books he’d published through his own company around that same time. Some of the books were journals about being on the road with the band and some were stories, poetry and thoughts he wanted to share. The man is very smart.
So I downloaded the track and it became one of my favorite things to listen to. If you have the opportunity I would suggest doing a search for it. You don’t have to like a person to realize what they are saying is totally righteous. I know a lot of people who can’t stand the “Aging Alternative Icon”, as he calls himself. Again, I can’t stand the music but his take on life, politics and many other things ring true. So I skip the music and go with his Spoken Word.
Spoken Word is an art form that has fallen to the wayside in these days of instant gratification. We want fast jokes, fast dialogue, and quick answers. Most people I know aren’t going to sit for three hours to listen to someone talk. Hell, I can barely get some people to sit through an entire movie and those are much shorter and you don’t generally learn or laugh as much.
Yet, knowing this, one of my goals in life is to become well enough known to be able to do Spoken Word shows of my own. I’ve gone to a couple of open mic nights and told a story or two. The reception is interesting. If you’re holding a mic and not singing or busting out a punchline every 30 seconds people tend to tune out. Until they realize delayed gratification makes the story better.
The computer that I used for Napster, of course, is now part of a landfill somewhere. I spent the next 10 years looking for that hour long story he tells. At times I forget that Google is good for more than finding out if there are beavers in Egypt. Yesterday I Googled Adventures of An Asshole. It led me to the name of the album which I then located on iTunes. Happy discovery, that album is approximately 2 1/2 hours long. There are several other awesome stories on there that I want to share with the world. Lacking a modern day Napster I shall instead encourage you to spend $.99 to listen to a track or two. You might be surprised and find you’re willing to spend the $9.99.
Napster may have pissed off the record companies and some bands but it blazed a path that leads us where we are now; where we can download a track or two very cheaply and decide on the rest of our purchase that way. YouTube is good for that as well though you are limited in it being video and not all spoken word shows are created equal.
One of the other great advancements we can thank the internet for is the introduction of more self-published novels. No more do we have to spend $10,000 to get the book printed and then shlep it around to book sellers in our town and others and pray they’ll be kind enough to give us 6 inches of shelf space in the far back under “local authors”. We can publish books whenever we’re ready and Amazon and others are happy to give us advertising space.
And what happens when you spent all that money to have actual books in your hand only to realize there are 20 different typos in there? Suck it up and let people read it as it stands? Or do you have to beg family and friends for the cash to fix it and re-release? One of the joys of the publication I’ve done through Amazon is I can re-upload my book at any time.
I’ll admit the first one I published, Freedom’s Treasure, still has errors in it. I’ve fixed a few and then discovered a few more. Fortunately I’ve learned that it is not only the self-published authors that have this problem. I can’t even count the number of errors and typos I’ve been discovering in books published by the huge conglomerates that were written by best selling authors who have their personal editors who’s only job is editing. My editor happens to be a very busy mother of two who works full time and blesses me with the limited spare time she can carve out of her days.
Take the time, discover some new artists and music. And, please, take the time and check out the deals on Amazon. My third novel, a romantic adventure that dovetails the NSA scandals with homegrown militias will be free on Amazon tomorrow. Why not check it out? I’ll enclose links to each of my books here. If you find an error, well, bear in mind it may be fixed the next time you load your Kindle. Kind of nice the way that works, right?
Freedom’s Treasure tells the tale of Anna and Hunter as they search for a treasure buried since the days of the Civil War. http://www.amazon.com/Freedoms-Treasure-A-K-Lawrence-ebook/dp/B00EAY37B6/
Extremity tells the tale of Sean Stone, a new FBI agent with a killer fixated on him. http://www.amazon.com/Extremity-A-K-Lawrence-ebook/dp/B00FTJXF04/
At Wit’s End is about Bradley Witson, a hacker who takes on the militia responsible for the death of his friends in an act of domestic terrorism in New York City. http://www.amazon.com/At-Wits-End-A-K-Lawrence-ebook/dp/B00H89B31G/
Happy reading, Java-mates!