Revolution #2. iPod = Mixtape explosion
When the iPod first dropped, Napster had just been shut down by the RIAA and record labels were scrambling to figure out a response to wide-spread free file-sharing. Where Metallica and Dr. Dre saw downloads as the enemy, suing file-sharing sits—and sometmes even their own fans—Jobs saw a paradigm shift, and a huge business opportunity.
The first generation iPod offered “1,000 songs in your pocket," even if most of those songs initially came from Peer-2-Peer networks like Napster, Limewire, Soulseek and Kazaa.
For new artists without established fan bases, distribution, or label contracts, P2P meant having direct access to millions of potential fans. As the old music industry crumbled during the early 2000s, getting signed no longer became the necessary first step to a successful career. Instead artists just wanted a place on fans' iPods.
The mixtape circuit has always brought unknown rappers into the spotlight, but one these so-called “mixtapes” were liberated from cassettes and CDs, musicians in all genres had direct access to their fans like never before.
50 Cent's infamous 1999 song "How To Rob," for instance, spread like wildfire on file-sharing networks, bringing him national recognition even as his debut album got shelved by Columbia.