I reckon Napster became popular because of all the unreleased material on the site like live bootlegs, alternate takes and demo’s.
In the race to offer legal streaming/digital options, we’ve lost access to these kinds of takes forever. Then again YouTube does have a lot of this stuff and if people prefer to go to YouTube and search that way they can.
And the reason why these demo’s, unreleased songs, B-sides, live takes and what not became so sought after is because bands/artists held songs back. In some cases these are the personal tracks were the artist is laying it all out for people to hear. That’s why the music became so big back then. When we got access to these hidden closet tracks, we felt close to our heroes. But somehow we’ve lost that magic.
Today, everyone releases everything they record. Go on social media and 90% of artist accounts are controlled by their publicity agents, so it’s all about the money, the success, the marketing and no personal opinions are offered. But the ones that control their own social media accounts, I believe, they are leading better creative lives and are having more success doing so.
Their engagement with their fans, smack downing trolls and their opinions is the same as those unreleased tracks and demoes. I follow a few on Twitter like Dave Mustaine, Zoltan Bathory, Mike Portnoy, Nikki Sixx, Dee Snider, Phil Soussan, David Coverdale, Jason Bieler and Lzzy Hale. All of them control their own accounts and they engage with their fans. Most importantly they offer their opinions. You might disagree or agree with them, but in the end you value them more because they are laying it all out there. Like those outtakes and demos that never made the album once upon a time.
And we all need that other perspective and other viewpoint. We live in a world that has so many niches and everyone believes they are a superstar. But people only care about you when they see you as human, when they see you offering your opinion. That’s what sells your brand, your music, your live show, your comic and what not.