Ongoing History Daily: File-trading in the olden days

Before streaming, before iTunes, even before Napster and file-sharing, people were illegally exchanging music using other online methods. If you were an early internet nerd, you might have traded digital tracks through IRC, which stood for Internet Relay Chat.

Trading this way was very, very slow because IRC use pre-dates MP3s, which meant that original .WAV files were the only thing available. And this was also before broadband connections. If you were lucky, you had a 56K modem for dial-up access, which meant that downloading a single song took at least 15 minutes but could also take an hour or more.

Another place to find songs were the private rooms offered by AOL chat rooms. Because of the way AOL was set up, uploading and downloading was a lot faster than IRC but still painfully slow and complicated. No wonder the music industry ignored this kind of song trading until Napster came along in 1999. By then, though, it was too late.

Yesterday’s post was about TEAs. What are they? Go here.

And don’t forget to check out my podcast The Ongoing History of New Music where you listen on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogleStitcher, or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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