I admit it. For years, I was one of those jerks that downloaded songs on Napster. At the time, I was like those people who are now reading comics online instead of buying them. I didn't see how I was hurting anyone. After all, a lot of the music I was downloading was stuff I probably wasn't going to buy anyway or couldn't find in the record store. And a lot of times, if I liked something and it was available, I'd go out and buy the whole album. You see, a lot of the stuff I got off Napster was crappy quality and I thought of it as sort of my own personal "listening booth." It was a great way to try music out before making the investment. Still, wrong is wrong and I'm glad the temptation is gone.
Then, along came iTunes, Apple's answer to the illegal music downloading problem. At first, like a lot of people, I was dubious. 99 cents per song was a lot when you were used to getting them for free. But then I realized that 99 cents wasn't a lot to pay for a clear conscience and I signed on. Boy, am I glad I did. Sure, 99 cents a pop adds up. But at least you don't have to buy an entire album if you don't want to and you can spread those 99-cent pops around however you want. And you can listen to the stuff before you commit to buying. Best of all, iTunes carries stuff I haven't been able to find anywhere else.
I'm a soundtrack and original movie score junkie (for which I've taken a lot of undeserved grief from friends and girlfriends alike) and I listen to some pretty weird stuff. Stuff you either can't find at Best Buy or Amazon or have to pay through the nose for on one of those online music outfits like Movie Grooves. But lately I've been able to find a lot of wacky stuff on iTunes that makes me rub my hands together and cackle maniacally. Like several albums by Goblin, the Italian rock group that was big in the Seventies and early Eighties. They did the soundtracks for a lot of Dario Argento's giallos and are probably most famous in the States for their work on George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD. I picked up PROFONDO ROSSO (DEEP RED) and the DAWN soundtrack. I got Michael Giacchino's music from Season 1 of ALIAS and also the BEST OF MILLENNIUM album by Mark Snow which, I believe, was an iTunes exclusive. The fact that they're making this stuff available (and affordable) makes me feel like I'm not alone out there and that there's a real market for it. I feel legitimized and a little vindicated.
My latest iTunes acquisitions were a "Black Betty" cover by SpiderBait, an Aussie rock band. I was actually looking for their cov er of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" which was featured in the GHOST RIDER movie but, unfortunately, couldn't find it. I stumbled across "Betty" and had to have it. I listen to it at least once a day now. And, today, I picked up "Alech Taadi" by an Algerian musician from his album "N'ssi N'ssi". Doesn't get more obscure than that, does it? Actually, the song is my favorite track of music featured in the film THE FIFTH ELEMENT. It's the music playing during the taxi cab chase sequence and a little snippet of it is playing when the eccentric little gunman tries to mug Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis). It wasn't included on Eric Serra's score album and I've been trying to track it down for years. Yay, iTunes.
I know iTunes has its detractors and there are some problems. Like Album-Only purchases (usually at the artists' request) and boycotts by some artists and music publishers. But there's quite a lot to love about them too so, if you haven't tried them, I highly recommend you sign up. Even if you aren't just dying to hear the creepy piano music from John Harrison's CREEPSHOW score.