Free Music Download Software still as popular as with good old Napster?
How free music download software has
evolved over the years since it's beginning
download software is basically in all cases a file sharing system. You
just share compressed music files as well as any other file.
understand that system and to give you an idea how it developed in time, I
want to start with a brief overview of its past.
file sharing on the Internet
It all started
with the most popular website of all times, Napster.com.
The success of
this website is not hard to explain. You could very conveniently download
almost any song under the sun for free.
have to pay for CDs and you didn't have to buy a whole album, when
you were interested in only one song. It was just heaven on
earth for people who love and collect music.
titles were stored on a gigantic, centralized database. As there
was no way to store all the mp3 or other files itself on central servers,
the songs itself were stored on people's computer. Anytime you started the
Napster software, your own computer acted as server and the songs
on your hard disk became available to other users of Napster.
This of course
heavily collided with the ideas of wealthy music publishers and record
companies that saw their milk cow vanish in the haze. An industry,
that specialized more and more in sucking out artists instead of
helping and managing them, had to face an insecure future.
to this situation was of course not to do a better job for the
money, but to drag anybody and his cat to court.
itself divided into two parts. Some fought Napster and others
defended the idea of free music on the Internet.
When the court
decided to shut the site down because of
promoting copyright infringement, it was quite easy to execute because of it's centralized database.
you had about 100 million people sitting on their huge collections of music
files, quite eager for another free music download software to share them.
They were just waiting for another system to replace good old Napster.
And it didn't
take long to arrive. Learning from past mistakes a new network developed,
the "Gnutella" network.
things are different between Gnutella and the old Napster.
central database. Instead an intelligent distributed query where
each computer on the network tells what he has to offer.
You can choose
of a variety of different client applications, that are able to access the
to shut down because of it's decentralized nature.
One by one a
variety of networks with different clients come up and today more people
are sharing files, than to the best times of Napster.
Around 2002, there were seven major
services left , that shared the pie of file sharing amongst each other:
KaZaa, Morpheus and Grokster as FastTrack clients, LimeWire and
BearShare for the Gnutella network and Madster (formerly Aimster)
and WinMX used their own networks.
became the most successful of these services. In it's best time it has
been downloaded around 60 million times and used by around 9
million people. It was almost as popular as the old Napster.
But just in it's best times on 26. February,
2002, it suddenly quit working. There were rumors that
KaZaa BV, the company that developed
and still controlled the FastTrack network, shut it down somehow.
Morpheus answered quite quickly and
developed a new client for the Gnutella network. As many users also
changed to the Gnutella network it soon caught up with the competing
Though FastTrack is technically the newer,
better and faster network, it is not as decentralized as the older
Gnutella network. That means that it could be more likely shutdown by some
court decision. Therefore it was even harder to decide for a network.
Another serious alternative was
WinMX. As the formerly hardest competition for
Morpheus, it still worked very well, but not for a long time.
WinMX has been shut down
on 20 September 2005
under legal pressure from the RIAA (Recording Industry
Association of America).
Though the service continues to exist with some working software patches,
it's future is very questionable.
Here's a short
selection of the survivors. Though the future might look not so
bright after the US supreme court ruled against file swapping it is still
Lime Wire/Gnutella client (Mac/PC/Unix...)
A slick Java program with a
multitude of functions. It's faster than Kazaa, has no Spyware(???hopefully)/Adware,
supports swarm downloads, iTunes integration, etc...
Kazaa Lite/Fasttrack Client (Mac/PC)
Kazaa is still one of
the most popular programs concerning mp3 files.
It contains no spy- or adware. Unlimited searches, better multi-source
downloading, constantly the highest participation level, a custom startup
page, improved performance and much more.
Adware, that means you have to watch ads
while downloading (actually you don't have to...look elsewhere), but you can
share files in Gnutella,
eDonkey, Bit Torrent, G2 und Neonet. You have an
internal media player and it's very fast.
Besides LimeWire one of the most innovative
Gnutella clients. Available in a Pro, Lite and sponsored version. Not as
pretty as the above but less resource heavy and very stable client.
BitComet is a fast, clean and
easy-to-use BitTorrent client with absolutely no spyware/adware. You can
preview while downloading and it's easy to use
Though Apple's iTunes has made the paid download of
music from the internet more popular, the vast majority of files are still
traded via free peer-to-peer networks. Free music download software
just got better and has a pretty high standard today.
But it's mainly built for downloading the files.
For playing, organizing and transferring them to external devices you still
need other software in most cases.