Weekly Wide Web

What Does Free Cost?

This particular catch was probably mentioned somewhere in the terms of service I rapidly clicked past, but soon, the online music service Spotify will start restricting the amount of time during which users are able to stream songs for free from their site.

This is no particular surprise, since Spotify has a premium product it is trying to sell, but after six months of using Spotify nearly every workday, there's soon going to be a time when I run up against the 10-hour monthly limit. Perhaps I'll be trying to listen to Kanye West's "Good Life" for the sixth time in a month—and then I'll miss the good old days of only having to suffer through an ad every few songs.

Spotify makes a big deal out of being a legal alternative to piracy, and it offers a seemingly infinite catalog of music, more or less for free. However, one digitally savvy musician, Derek Webb, is crying foul, saying he would prefer that people just steal his music. Spotify does pay the artist when a song is streamed, but it ends up being only a fraction of a penny per song. Webb's contention is that at least the pirate feels bad about stealing music, and would be more inclined to support a musician by purchasing merchandise or concert tickets. However, the Spotify user feels in the clear, legally participating in the process.

Services like Spotify seem like the future of music ... but at what cost?

The week on The Range

We looked back at our posts from Jan. 8, 2011, and welcomed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords home again; watched Arizona Public Media's Together We Heal documentary; chided Sen. Rich Crandall for making light of domestic violence; noted Scott Bundgaard's resignation from the Arizona Legislature; tried to act surprised as state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal ruled against ethnic studies; puzzled over which John McCain we're supposed to listen to; and talked about the upcoming political season with Jonathan Paton and Jeff Rogers on Arizona Illustrated's Political Roundtable, with your host, Jim Nintzel.

We read and watched the work of college journalism students working at the UA with The New York Times; thought that bank-robbing might not be the best way for fathers and sons to spend time together; noted another legal setback in Jan Brewer's war on medical marijuana; shared our complete interviews with Mark Stegeman and John Pedicone; continued our fight for citizen democracy with Project White House; spotted a chupacabra; and got our lawn chairs out to see The Muppet Movie downtown.

We wondered what we should say to our Facebook friends from beyond the grave; lamented that we would have to limit our Spotify usage if we don't want to pay; suggested that you listen to the music of a Canadian called Grimes; welcomed Blue Ivy Carter to the world; took sides in the mutants vs. superheroes battle; complained that Cosmic Bingo at Casino del Sol is significantly less-fabulous now; asked evangelical Christians to stop remaking our favorite pop songs; remembered that we have some overdue library books to turn in before the cops show up; feared for the future of Western civilization while watching a clip from TLC's Toddlers and Tiaras; gave away a pair of B-52s tickets; listened to a song to try to cheer ourselves up; and attempted to figure out why George Lucas hates Star Wars fans.

Comment of the week

"It would be reasonable to require a state test before allowing someone to purchase and/or operate a gun since we already do that with automobiles. ... It's hard to say exactly what forces induced Loughner to kill so many people, but it isn't hard to see that the culture we have created in Arizona made it pretty easy for a crazy person to casually commit mass murder."

—chillaz agrees with some of Tom Zoellner's points in "Not in a Vacuum" (Jan. 5).

Best of WWW

On Saturday, Jan. 14, Adam and Jamie from TV's Mythbusters are coming to UA Centennial Hall to present a stage show complete with experiments that they promise will not leave the building as a pile of rubble—although some of the people in the front row might need to wear rain slickers (like at a Gallagher show!). Dan Gibson talked to Jamie Hyneman to discuss how the tour came together, the success of the TV show, how the show has affected science education in this country—and whether Hyneman would have ever imagined that a special-effects expert would end up a television celebrity.

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