Where Did It All Go Wrong?

There was a time when music had a huge impact on people--enough to make them want to spend money and break the law and stay up late at night. This is how it was:

Music pirates are boring nowadays. The pirate’s den is a bedroom in mom’s flat. Or maybe that’s a pirate using the free wi-fi at Dunkin Donuts.

That wasn’t always the case. Music pirates once had their own ships, just like their skull-and-crossbones predecessors in the Caribbean. The deejays didn’t wear eye-patches or talk like Jack Sparrow, but before they were done reinventing radio rules, they helped shape the musical tastes during the rise of rock … and even changed international maritime law.

Long before Napster and torrents, the pirate radio stations of the ’60s found a home on the high seas. These renegade outfits operated from a host of different ships that circumvented government restrictions by broadcasting from international waters. At their peak, these stations attracted millions of listeners, who grooved to rock ‘n’ roll tunes ignored by the state-controlled radio outlets.

Technology caught up to society and made music easy to get, easy to stockpile, and even easier to share. And all of that is a good thing. The problem is, we forgot that it was all a business move and that being able to get anything and everything without having to work at it meant that the value of music plummeted and the shared experience went the way of the narrowcasted podcast. You can get it all now--unheard of when people were scrounging for imported records and listening to static and bullshit.