What this means, at this point, is not yet clear. It could mean that Napster will no longer exist, or it could mean that the quality of music available on Napster will get better, as it won't be cluttered with major label crap. I assume that most punk bands will be happy to have their music distributed for free via Napster, as it is not exactly going to put a big dent in a few hundred or thousand record sales.
I actually have mixed feelings about the whole Napster thing. If a band doesn't want their music to be available for free on the net, then that's okay with me. They should be allowed to block access to their songs via Napster. Frankly, most bands that want their music to be blocked don't interest me anyway.
One of the things that made Napster an easy target for a lawsuit was that every copy of the program talks to a central server. This means that the powers-that-be at Napster are able to block and control what files are accessed. Fortunately, there are several other music (and file) sharing programs out there that don't connect to a central server, and thus will be harder to shut down.
The best known of these kinds of programs are Gnutella and Hotline, but there are a slew of programs out there. They allow sharing of all types of files and don't have central servers that can be controlled (at least not at this point) by Big Brother.
Gnutella was a program that was created by the guys who made Winamp. However, since Winamp is owned by AOL, they pulled the program almost immediately after release. Fortunately, many other programmers have stepped in and added programs that will allow you to connect to other Gnutella-like programs that are on the net. You can find a number of these programs, as well as information about Gnutella at http://www.gnutelliums.com/ .
Hotline is another program that allows people on the net to share files, as well as a forum for online messaging, chat, and more. You use the Hotline client program to connect to a Hotline server, which may give you the opportunity to grab files, mp3s, and more. If you have a decent net connection, you can even setup your own server, and allow people to get files from you. Check out Hotline at http://www2.bigredh.com/ .
Another great program is available from the Freenet Project at http://freenet.sourceforge.net/ . Freenet allows you to exchange files and information in a private and secure form. One of Freenet's main goals is to allow access to information that your government (wherever you may be) or big business do not want you to access. A very worthwhile cause that you should take a look at.
For a more complete rundown of all of these types of programs, as well as the latest news on file and information sharing, and more, InfoAnarchy (http://www.infoanarchy.org) is one of the most informative sites I've come across. Give it a look and start putting up your rare punk mp3 files.
Now it's time to delve into a handful of punk sites that I have for you this month. The pickings are kind of slim, but that's only because you haven't been mailing me with great websites. Remember, if you find a site that's the shit, send it my way. If you have a site, and are keeping it updated, and have all the sections completed, send it my way too. Fire it off to the e-mail at the end of the column.
The Independents, the horror-rock/ska band from South Carolina have put together a website that is pretty much everything a band website should be. Great photos, mp3 and real audio files, a discography, tour dates, interviews, and more. Visit their page at http://www.angelfire.com/band/theindependents/ .
Hailing from the UK, the Academy Morticians have also put together a decent website with a few band photos, information, and essays by the band members on various issues. They also have links through to their songs at mp3.com, which are worth your time. These guys are melodic punk, but have some quirky elements that make them interesting. You'll find their stuff at http://www.gardners.freeserve.co.uk/TheAcademyMorticians.htm
Well, it looks like this is gonna be a world tour of punk band sites, as the next band I'm going to mention is DS-13, who are from Sweden. I like the simplicity of their site, though the navigation could use a little bit of work. There are some cool photos, and a bunch of kick-ass hardcore punk sound files, as well as a discography and a few reviews of the band. Check them out at http://www.ds13.com/ .
Our final stop around the world, courteously of an e-mail from Luk Haas, is none other than Indonesia. The Indonesia Punks and Skins Page at http://members.fortunecity.com/indonesian2/ . Included here are a list of a couple of dozen Indonesian punk bands, some of whom have their own pages, as well as a few high-quality sound files, some cool photos, and a bunch more.
Vic at World Wide Punk just keeps adding shit to his site. It was one of the first punk sites I mentioned in this column so many years ago, and it just keeps growing and getting more complex. His newest thing is a Punk Rock Movie Database, where he lists movies that are, in some way, related to punk rock. He has quite a few movies listed. Take a look and let him know what he's missing at http://www.worldwidepunk.com/movies/ .
Finally, in the almost-too-weird-to-be-true department, I was on the about.com website and ran across something pretty funny in their "How To" section -- namely, How to Give Yourself a Mohawk. You'll find it, in all of its step-by-step glory, at http://punkrock.about.com/musicperform/punkrock/library/howto/htmohawk.htm , I kid you not.
Okay, so that is pretty much gonna do it for me this month. Feel
free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or check out my columns at http://www.diehippiedie.com/netpunk/
. Also, I've been thinking about reviewing CD-plus discs, so if you've
put something together that has music AND multi-media content, send
it my way and I'll probably give it a mention.