June 1, 1999: The world’s first peer-to-peer music sharing site, Napster, launched on this date. Before Napster, music lovers were limited to purchasing music as hard copies on CDs, vinyl, or cassettes. Napster enabled users to share music files in MP3 format, initiating a massive disruption in the music industry. Within just a year of its existence, the legal heat intensified against the company with artists (such as Metallica and Dr. Dre), labels, and music distributors filing legal suits for copyright infringement. While Napster was eventually forced to file bankruptcy and was later acquired (first by Roxio, then by Best Buy and Rhapsody), the company opened up the way for some of digital music’s biggest players such as Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music.
Read more from Emory Libraries’ collection: