I don’t know what kind of trouble I’m getting myself into by admitting this, but here goes: I used to download songs from LimeWire. A lot of them. No, seriously: if I revealed the actual amount of songs I grabbed, it would make your hard drive blush.
I spent the glory days of the compact disc—that would be the 1990s—as a music-obsessed high and college student. On my budget, CD purchases were dear. I agonized over which two CDs I would purchase when my next student employment pay period finally ended. New or used, it didn’t seem to matter. Twenty bucks was about all I could drop every two weeks, and that made me respect the music-buying experience.
Then came an internship at a dot-com the summer after I graduated in 2000. On my second or third day, a co-worker showed Napster to me for the first time. Rather, he blew my mind with it. I recall the rapidly advancing “progress bar” on the Mac G3 monitor with the fondness of a love at first sight.
When I found gainful employment that fall, I could afford my own computer and an iPod. And a broadband connection. And enough spare time to download boatloads of songs. (I’m not sure I’m being clear enough: It was more like bargeloads. Really illegal bargeloads.)
It went on like that for some time. Soon, I wasn’t spending much money at all on new CDs. My penny-pinching music-buying behavior in the 20th century was as distant as an old, yellowed photograph. I was living high on the P2P hog, comfortably awash in the most inane tracks I could think to type into LimeWire’s search engine.
And then … it stopped. About five years ago, I stopped downloading. Cold turkey. I started spending money on records again. A lot of money. I bought “special editions” and concert DVDs and CD titles that I’d bought on cassette in 1991. I had to invest in the ugliest furniture ever made: CD storage racks.
There was no moment of clarity, like when a car accident victim escapes by the skin of her neck and suddenly becomes very devoutly religious. I just stopped. Downloading didn’t feel good anymore. And iTunes, man, it’s so easy…
Now, granted: I have some advantages. As a Soundcheck producer, I don’t go begging for CDs to listen to at the office, let me tell you. We get lots of music. But even all that stuff, I still spend more money than I ever did on music. And I deleted LimeWire a long time ago.