Living with free music for a year

It’s been about a year and a half since I’ve decided to stop pirating music.

The main reason for me having the courage to do this is because I had found Jamendo. Jamendo is a place for artists to post their Creative Commons licensed work and for anyone else to download or stream free of charge. Armed with this and my 20 CD collection, I decided to delete all my previous music collection and start anew.

Let me give you some background on this. My music collection was medium-sized before. As big as any other adolescent’s. I AM an audiophile, having always listened to a wide range of music, many hours a day and having played piano when I was little and guitar now. I have never actually created any music however. So I’m probably just your average, bit of an audiophile, Joe.

The plan was: download everything I liked from jamendo and then buy some 1-2 CDs/month. I kept to it. I also created a new last.fm profile to track my listening habits and to supplement them with their streaming feature. My motivation was to keep everything legal and ogg. The same way I have no pirated software on my computer I could have no pirated music. The world would be a better place.

In the glory days, I used to download 10 albums a day from jamendo. I generally kept them for 2-3 weeks so I could listen to them at least twice and then deleted what I didn’t like.

I found some amazing artists I could never have found in the mainstream like The Octave Band, Tom Fahy, Revolution Void and Noise sound nation . I also found some that could’ve made it to the mainstream, but didn’t: WhiteRoom, Whiteyes, Eternal Tango, try^d, Contreband, HYPE etc. There was a lot of bad music and a lot of experiments. But hey! There’s a lot of bad music in the mainstream, too, although not as much experiments because that’s not what mainstream is for.

I can’t complain about the quality of the music, but I can complain about the quality of the audio files on the site and the site itself which is probably the most-failed-startup-that-could’ve-been-big in existence. Jamendo has oggs, but you can only get them via bittorrent and nowadays they don’t work most of the time. The website is a nightmare as far as usability is concerned and the design is from the 90s. Jamendo has a lot of potential and I heard it’s big in France, but I can’t see what’s stopping them from being big on the Web.

Back to my experience. I had a lot of fun and I really didn’t miss much of the music I had been listening to before. I could always brag to my friends and recommend them artists that they had never heard of. I could listen to awesome new sounds, some of which could be called: melancholic noise music, trance jazz, psychedelic bored music etc.

My legal music collection is now 12G big with 113 artists, 23 of which are ripped cds. It’s all ogg.
These days I’m beginning to get bored and annoyed with jamendo’s mismanagement. I haven’t downloaded a new jamendo album in months and that’s not because I haven’t tried.
The interest in me keeping this legal music collection just faded. I’ve lost motivation. Also, there are a lot of commercial artists that sound interesting and that I can’t buy locally. Music isn’t like software. You can’t replace an artist with another just because they’re in the same genre. With software you have to get something done, regardless of the means. With music, you’re not just listening to music, the means is the purpose and every artist is irreplaceable.

I’m probably going to migrate my music collection to flac files since my audiophile needs have just become more aristocratic after I bought a new hi-fi head-set. I’m still going to be watching the artists I love from jamendo that no one will ever hear about. I might even go on a raid or two at the bay of pirates.


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