Thursday, April 23, 2009

Was The Pirate Bay Trial Judge Bias

Last week, we had a post called File Sharing Service Owners Sentenced to Prison which had 4 men prosecuted and sentenced to 1 year in jail along with a fine totalling roughly $3.6 million for starting and operating a Swedish BitTorrent site, The Pirate Bay, which helped users find pirated software and files leading to illegal downloads, and so a copyright infringement towards the entertainment industry. Why people are not yet making the switch to legal music download services, I don't know. Here's the follow up.

The defence for the case is demanding a retrial saying the judge for the trial was bias as he is a participant in the Swedish Association of Copyright, along with a board member of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Copyright, and if that's not enough, a member of .SE which is the Internet Infrastructure Foundation. Talk about a conflict of interest.

Bias or not, illegal music downloads are way out of hand. I understand there needs to be an example made out of someone but it is still the user's fault in my opinion. You don't go suing a sports store because a customer bought a bat and broke into someone's home with it, you should go after the customer who decided to make an illegal action with something the sports store was offering.

In a way I'm hoping someone is made an example of to a certain extent perhaps with a warning to monitor operations and illegal music downloads going on with a file sharing software or BitTorrent site and being obliged to report such users who are taking advantage of these services in an illegal way, but I wouldn't be ready to send these guys to jail as even file sharing sites could have great use in legal ways to transfer free material without any copyright on it. Maybe start up bands look to put out free music for everyone to download. These sites can help them promote their material which they are giving out for free so why take them completely off the net?

It's a touchy subject, always was, but either way, to anyone who wants to download music, forget about file sharing and BitTorrent sites as the actions you are doing to get free copyrighted materials off of these sites is illegal. Find yourself a solid music download services and stick to it.

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iTunes Pass Benefits Who Really

iTunes is now offering a new music product - iTunes Pass. Think of it as a fan club membership you would be able to get for your favorite music group.

When they announced it late February, Depeche Mode was the only band available. For $18.99, you would get everything the band puts out on iTunes until June 16, 2009 which includes the new single, some promo materials (ex. remixes, videos, etc ...), and the Sounds of the Universe album when it's made available.

iTunes says the cost of the pass would always be less expensive than what you would get for it, but lately with their new pricing model that increased per-song prices by %30, I find it hard to believe any product they put out is in the best interest of the customer. Someone has done the math on this and you can bet it's going to bring iTunes another great source of revenue. Hopefully they will at least follow through and the pass will be a positive addition for all true fans out there that can't get enough of their favourite music group since, as a concept, I can see it as very attractive to both music groups and fans.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jack Black Speaks Up on Piracy

This video went up a little while ago and I figured it was fitting to share due to all the recent progress going on in the fight against file sharing and piracy like the File Sharing Service Owners Sentenced to Prison, or the New Law in Sweden Against File Sharing.

Whether you're a fan of Jack Black or not, take a look:

Jack Black Speaks Up on Piracy



I think it's awesome another artist speaks up on piracy. When it comes down to it, though he still delivers it in a funny way, the message is right on. Artists work hard to create movies, music, and other forms of art. You wouldn't steal a CD from a store or movie from the shelves and using a file sharing site or program to pass on copyrighted material without compensating the artist is stealing. How are these artists going to get paid for their work if everyone takes what they want for free?

I read some comments about this that rock stars don't need the extra little bit of money they are loosing out on music downloads. Already, because someone has money doesn't make it any more justifiable to steal from them, but leaving the rich rock stars out of the equation, think of all the bands and artists starting out. They spend all their money to record an album and CD sales have dropped a huge amount due to illegal downloads. How can any new artists start a career if people steel from the little they could be making, and how can you expect these guys to go on and record a second album? How do they even measure if it was worth recording it in the first place? Where's the money come from to start touring, or promoting the album?

Quit stealing, use one of the legal music download sites mentioned on our main page. Read through the reviews and you'll see how reasonable being part of one of these services really is. I'm also speaking as a musician trying to get a career started as well so even if you don't listen to a guy like me, if you are one of those people using illegal means to get copyrighted material like movies and music, check out the video and at least admit to yourself your actions are illegal and you are stealing when you could maybe buy that same song for $0.69 or listen to as much legal music as you want for the cost of an album a month with one of the music subscription services we review.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

File Sharing Service Owners Sentenced to Prison

First Sweden passes a new music download law requiring ISP's to turn in user's IP address if they are suspected to download music illegally, now they are shutting down one of the biggest file sharing services. Another point for the good guys.

For those new the topic, file sharing services allow users to share any file they want across the net. This is a huge problem with music downloads as it makes copyrighted material accessible to anyone for free, by-passing compensation to the artist and bands working to record them, and ultimately making it easier to steal music online. Unfortunately, there was little to do against these sites but now Sweden courts have taken a huge step.

One of the biggest file sharing services, The Pirate Bay, went to court. The 4 men who started the site were prosecuted and were sentenced to 1 year in prison and fined a total of roughly $3.6 million in damages that they will have to pay to the entertainment companies. Here's the story:

File-Sharing Site Violated Copyright, Court Says - Article from the NY Times.

It's touchy as the ones who started the site were not really hosting any of the files, but did provide a service making it very easy for users to get their hands on stolen copyrighted material by making links to these files available.

Personally, I'm happy about the ruling as it's a nice wake up call if nothing else to users that what they are doing is wrong and if you want a song or album, you need to go the right way and use one of the legal music download sites out there, but at the same time, I feel it's really the users who should be to blame and not the site owners. As an example, sports stores sell baseball bats. If a customer buys one and smashes a car window, the store shouldn't go to court for selling the bat. The action the customer decided to take using the bat was illegal and is where the problem lies, in the same way if people use a service in an illegal way, then they are to blame.

This will be another one to keep an eye on and see if it changes anything but really, if people were using a file sharing site before, chances are they'll flock to another one but at least there's a chance it'll convert a few along the way to give a try to legal music download services instead.

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Ad Supported Music Download Site Spiral Frog Shuts Down

We got a lot of emails asking why we never reviewed the 'free' ad-supported music download site Spiral Frog. Our response was always that it seemed like a fragile approach and was lining itself up to making users unhappy. That's besides the fact that they went for deals with the major labels and only 2 of the 4 agreed. Never the less, they went on with a very aggressive marketing strategy for the music download service but in the end, they had to close up shop. The full story:

Ad-supported music download service SpiralFrog enters the dead pool - Article from Last 100.

I have a lot of respect for the guys at Spiral Frog who dove in and gave it a real shot. You don't know unless you try. The only way we'll evolve and get this music industry back on its feet is by people trying sometimes risky approaches that could pay off so hopefully we will see other legal music download sites in the near future with different creative approaches. Till then, I suggest we stick to the legal music services that have been there for years and who we can trust.

Be sure to check out our reviews on all the top legal music download services at our main site:

Compare Music Download Sites

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Band Uses Twitter as a Close to Real-Time Broadcast of a Show

A band is making use of Twitter in a new way. They are setting up their CD release to be recorded, quickly mastered, and right away put up on the net and sharing links to the music downloads for each song as close to real-time as possible. Though there will be a delay between the time the song was played and is available, this is a good attempt at using Twitter as a close to live broadcast of a band's show. Here's the full story:

Tech-studded rock band Moonalice offers closest thing yet to live music on Twitter - Article from Venture Beat.

With so many platforms available for bands to promote their music, it's hard to find one to stick to and stay active with but Twitter has definitely created a buzz in the past weeks and months and is prooving once again that it is a fun networking site with many possibilities, now sharing music downloads and making them available practically in real-time.

On that note, you can visit our Twitter page at www.twitter.com/TopMusicSites if you are already part of the networking community. If not, what are you waiting for!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

iTunes Goes DRM Free and Removes DRM Restrictions

Good news for iTunes users. After a long wait, Apple is following through with their promise and working to remove DRM (Digital Rights Managed) restrictions on their entire catalogue. 8 million tunes done for the music download service, just 2 million to go. Catch the full story:

iTunes Gets DRM Free, New Prices, Purchase Over 3G - Article from Gizmodo.

Coming at the same time as the new iTunes Variable Pricing model, this is a move in the positive direction answering to the customer's demands as before, with DRM restrictions, when people would download music with them, the files would have limitations to how many computers the song could be on at once, or how many times it could be burned to disk. These restrictions would also limit the type of devices you could use to listen back to the music purchased. For iTunes, this is all a thing of the past.

Check out our iTunes Review for a look at what our reviewers think.

A friendly tip, if you download more than an album's worth of music a month, it is much more cost efficient to go with one of the music subscription services reviewed on our site. Only legal sites are reviewed and we take a look at everything from music selection to customer service. Take a look at some of our top sites:

Music Subscription Sites:

Superpass Review
Napster Review
eMusic Review

Alternative Pay-Per-Song Site:

If you haven't checked them out yet and are still convinced on the pay-per-song model, read the following review and compare it to our iTunes Review. We might just convert you:

Amazon MP3 Review

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Legal Music Downloads Up in Sweden Due to New Law

Legal Music Downloads jump a huge amount in Sweden after the ISPs stepped in following a new law. Here's the full scoop:

Legal Music Downloads Soar in Sweden - Article from CD Freaks.

The iPRED law was put into place to help stop illegal file transfers, music being one of the major culprits, which infringe on copyright law. It requires internet service providers to give user's IP if they suspect illegal files are being transferred. Within a week, legal music downloads have increased an astonishing 100%!

It will be interesting to see if this is only due to people trying out the legal route to see what it's all about so very possibly a temporary boost of interest in the legal music download world. Ways around the bill like pirated software is already making its way available to counter this effort.

We'll have to wait and see how this pans out but one thing is for sure, it's an eye opener if nothing else to some of the legal music download sites out there for the people in the area who may have never looked into it if not for the new law. A step in the right direction I think ...

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Universal and YouTube to Start a New Music Download Service

Looks like there will be a new site to add to the list of music download services ...

Perhaps not the first 2 companies that would come to mind in a joint venture such as this but seems like Universal Music Group will be partnering up with YouTube to start a new music download service called VEVO. Read the scoop:

Universal joins with YouTube for new download service - Article from The Insider.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. We'll keep you posted and who knows, maybe in the near future, you'll be seeing VEVO reviewed at our main music download site.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

iTune's Variable Pricing Model More Costly than Amazon

This Tuesday, iTunes introduced a new 'variable pricing' model where, in brief, according to the popularity of the digital track, prices would range from $0.69 to $1.29 for the bigger sellers. Here's an article from LA Times to get you up to speed:

ITunes' variable pricing gives Amazon's music store a leg up - Article from http://www.latimes.com/.

The interesting part is that Amazon, iTune's biggest competition, still has the popular tracks at the good old $0.99. Perhaps it's simply a delay and the 2nd most used music download site Amazon will soon follow as did Wal-Mart, but if not, this could be the kick Amazon needs to take an even bigger piece of the pie from the online music download world which right now is split roughly 87% iTunes, 16% Amazon. Let's see how this plays out.


Visit our main site comparing the top legal music download sites and read through the reviews for both services, along with the other large players in the game:

Pay-Per-Song Services

Amazon MP3 Review
iTunes Review

Music Subscription Services

Superpass Review
Napster Review
eMusic Review

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Recession Not Affecting Music Festivals

I read an article at billboard showing that music festivals aren't being drastically affected by the recession. With all the negative news around, I wanted to share something a little more positive for a change:

Music Festivals Not Feeling Economical Pinch - Article at http://www.billboard.com/

This is great news for the music world and it makes sense. Think about where you turn to when things are rough? A break up maybe, a loved one that passes away, ... Music is a therapy and the right song can sometimes be the perfect remedy so in a rough time like any other, it seems fitting for us to turn to art and not give up entertainment so easily.

I guess when concert tickets plunge, we'll know we're in real trouble. Until then, I don't know about you but I'm looking forward to another rocking concert season!


Reminder as always, don't steal music. Be sure to check out our main site filled with helpful info and reviews on the best music download sites on the net. If you are to download any digital music, please do it legally.

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