‘Normal’ depends on your circumstances. As a flat broke student with all the time in the world, it was normal for me to bootleg and Napster and burn and swap mp3 CD-roms and whatnot. Nowadays, with a job and a family and stable broadband and 4G, I value access and convenience more, so Spotify is a great solution. I used to not care about ads so I didn’t pay for many years. Eventually I grew tired of them, so I now have a paid subscription. The journey was one from illegal and inconvenient, but free, to legal and convenient but annoying (ads!) to legal and convenient and paid. I can’t stand ad-financed radio anymore, the whole thing is the worst of all worlds.
The irony here is that along this journey, my overall music consumption probably went way, way down. So if anything annoys me now, it is that I pay a recurring fee to a middleman for something I hardly use. If some of my family weren’t professional musicians and got paid for plays, I might not think the system worked and that there were actual livelihoods – passionate, talent-driven, vibrant livelihoods – at stake. I might have not thought that getting paid for making music was ‘normal’. Same for games. Same for movies. They aren’t making themselves, and I gladly pay for quality work that brings me joy. I just can’t be arsed with Patreon, or wearing band t-shirts, or buying chinese coffee mugs shipped to France and printed with band logos. That monetization model doesn’t make sense – for me, at this point in life.
Your mileage may vary, and that’s okay. We all have different experiences.
For this thing to take off, it needs bootstrapping with basically the whole world’s music catalog. Not all at once, but in large enough steps to reach a critical mass of peers. None of the incumbents have incentives to make that happen, so it needs to be grassroots or pirate first – like Spotify.
The potential I see is to start over with a clean slate and make it so that the de facto curators, promotors and publishers – me as the flat broke student, hoarding and cataloguing mp3s, scanning booklets, bulk uploading and minding my Kazaa quotas – can be compensated for outputting quality ones and zeroes, just as the artists and the rest of the supply chain of recording engineers, producers, designers etc. Without that, I don’t see how a P2P based system can be ever get off the ground, as choice will be too limited, convenience (UX, payment, etc) will be inferior and this whole project can be written off by the mainstream as yet another piracy den ripping off artists.
The potential I see here is that as we transfer hosting and bandwidth costs from providers to peers –– essentially what Holo does –– we can move to paying directly for actually listening to songs and genuinely wanting to support artists, rather than middlemen.