Napster and the press: Framing music technology

Andrea L. Guzman, Steve Jones


Fifteen years ago, a new file-sharing technology called Napster provided college students and adults alike with a novel way of engaging with both the Internet and popular music. In this paper, we examine how the media framed Napster for an audience that largely was not Internet savvy at a time when listening to music was still tied to physical media. We conducted a textual analysis of stories regarding Napster appearing in both the specialized music press and the general mainstream media. We found that the mainstream media devoted considerable coverage to Napster and the file-sharing issues surrounding it while the music press barely mentioned the technology. Multiple themes emerged, some familiar to our ongoing conversation regarding the impact of new technologies, that place Napster at the nexus of cultural struggles over technology and power.

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