Fifteen years of ‘Utopia’: Napster and Pitchfork as technologies of democratization

David Carter, Ian Rogers


The legacy of Napster is filled with bold claims that continue to circulate. As recently as 2013, Wired writer Angela Watercutter described the service as “strings of code that forever changed the relationship between technology and music.” In this paper, we set out to problematize this narrative by outlining a seldom–reported pre–history of Napster combined with an expanded examination of the alternative legacies surrounding the platform. One such legacy is the rise of eclectic music criticism portal, a media entity (and business model) that similarly traded on a revolutionary backstory.


Napster, Pitchfork, music technology, democratization, music journalism, file sharing

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