The internet has brought about huge societal change. As a medium that allows for the free (as in speech) interaction of millions of users, it has modified the social conscious in ways that were never thought possible. In an interesting twist, it has had a profound effect on the transmission of musical ideas.
Take, for example, the emergence of Napster, then OiNK.cd and now What.cd?. By allowing music to flow freely, it has changed the face of modern music making. For example, right now, I have access to millions of tracks instantly (or nearly instantly) if I simply know where to look. When in history has that happened? In the past, you had to hope your local record store had a copy or you drove out of your way to find one. And often it wouldn’t be there either. The free transmission of music online has revolutionized music.
How does this affect musicians?
First of all, you can listen! Listen listen listen! My sweet lord, there are hundreds of tracks and each one is a new possibility of new sounds, new rhythms, new chords, new solos, new melodies, new mixes, new genres… I could go on and on…. The possibilities are endless. Inspiration has always been the key ingredient in music and now infinite inspiration is at your fingertips.
But be careful to download safely, some sites do break international and national copyright law. Be sure to know yours before you download. That being said, a careful torrenter on private sites will rarely (if ever) see repercussions.
What else can help musicians?
Well, we talked a bit about infinite inspiration through music downloads, but what about the possibility of infinite instruction? There are millions of online videos available for free and tons of sites that offer free guitar lessons. Just do a Google for what you are looking for and browse through the sites you find. There are hundreds of musical resources, check out this page on jazz resources. Check out the DMOZ listing for guitar education.
Remember, the inspiration is infinite online and so is the instruction. So get out there and do it!