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DIGITAL MUSINGS:
20 YEARS AGO

Cabin fever can prompt all manner of unbidden impulses, from cleaning out that drawer of plugs and adapters to attempting a vegan version of Boeuf Bourguignon a La Julia Child (not recommended). In my case it has also resulted in the perusal of very old issues of our print publication. In flipping through an ish from 2000 (my third year at the company, for those of you keeping score at home), I encountered my "Net News" column and was moved to reflection.

That's right: I had a one-page column dedicated to happenings on the digital-music front. The rest of the book was devoted to physical sales and radio spins, but this fringe sector got its little moment in the sun.


This was before iTunes, well before YouTube and long, long before Spotify. This was a time when kids were going to jail for excessive downloading of MP3s (as noted in that column), Napster and MP3.com were playing cat-and-mouse with the RIAA and some leading lights of the recorded-music business were advocating copy-protected CDs as a response to the changing climate.

Oh, and I had an AOL email address.

This was also before 9/11, which jumpstarted a long and painful sojourn in the wilderness for the biz; with no real digital plan, the industry shambled between half-hearted initiatives and litigious assaults on its customer base. 

Therefore, even as we face an enormous set of present challenges, I find it heartening to recall that after the edifice of the biz was essentially vaporized, we built it back up more or less from scratch (see related stories below for the kind of digital news that is currently the essence of the biz). Now we have a digital infrastructure so robust that not only can recorded-music keep ringing the registers with everyone sequestered, but we can effectively work from home and still have staff meetings.

We will get through this, too. Music will always sustain us, and these challenges will spur new innovation. The resistance to the digital world that once hamstrung us is, thankfully, far in the rearview. 

Oh, and that drawer full of cords and plugs? It still houses the charger for my Creative Nomad. I should probably toss that, right? 

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