Those of us who were lucky enough to have an Internet connection in the late 90’s were the first to be introduced to P2P services in which we were able to download music and listen to it immediately, even though for the connection speed at the time, “immediately” could have been three days in download time. Napster was a true revolution because it was the first file exchange network to became amazingly popular.

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The precedent set by this first Peer-to-Peer service available to the general public created the foundation for what is considered normal today by the ordinary user. Napster was sued and persecuted by the industry, forgotten about for years to end up being purchased by Best Buy for $121.5 million. Sean Parker, one of its founders and currently one of the brains behind the operation at Spotify, was the one who first understood the revolution behind the “any song, at any time” concept, and how it would affect our social model, both online and in real life.

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Ryan Lester, a student responsible for the current development of Napster.fm, humorously explains how the service works while making references to the controversial lawsuits against Napster (the first thing he tells us is that we will all be sued for using the service, and then he calms our nerves by saying he is just being sarcastic). He says that the service is completely independent because it is an open-source platform, which is why anyone could immediately rehost it in the event that it were shut down again.

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Napster has changed its format from its predecessor in that it is now a web-based music player similar to Spotify or Grooveshark, with some very exciting social network style features. On Napster.fm, you can create groups of friends in which one of the members can create and edit a playlist of songs that the entire group is listening to at the same time. True, this feature isn’t new, and is also available on services such as Turntable.fm, but unlike its competitors, Napster’s user interface, which is strictly a web application, is light and doesn’t consume a lot of your computer’s resources.

But not everything is new. Some features from the first version have been preserved that the older generation will probably remember, such as a list of popular songs called the “hot list,” which allows you to browse your friends libraries, as well as chat and send them songs. Undoubtedly, the service has changed alot since its beginnings and controversial fiasco. But, it carries on, waiting for a new golden age.

Official site | napster.fm

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