I try to limit my technological posts to things that I think are really cool, and this might just be one. Napster, who came to fame for being shut down as one of the first file sharing services, is now offering free music online (sort of). After Napster was shut down by the courts, its name was bought up and last year it reopened as an online music store. You could still download music from Napster, but now you had to pay for it. Enough history.
Now comes the cool part. Napster will now let you listen to every song in their collections up to five times for free. To listen to it the sixth time, you need to pay a monthly membership fee (if you pay the monthly fee, you can listen to whatever you want, as many times as you want). They have a collection of 2 million songs. If each was 3 minutes long, and you listened to music 24 hours a day, it would take just over 57 years to use up the free songs. Then you'd have to make up a new name and sign up again. Or, discriminating listener that you are, if you only listened to 1% of the songs, it would still take you a year of listening 3 hours a day to hear all the songs just once.
So, I usually look at the Calgary Folk Festival site to see who's going to play at the upcoming festival. Sometimes, I see a name and think, "Oh good, I like that person." Other times, I read about some "alt country sensation" and shrug. Never heard of 'em. This is where Napster comes in. Of the 12 leaked artists, they offer music by 10 of them (missing a Manitoba bluegrass band and a Louisiana Cajun band). So now I can listen to the bands that I will get to see in the summer - just a few songs to find out a bit more about who I'd like to see and who I can stand to miss.