This was the year music lost its shape. For more than a century, musical performances have been contained: on piano rolls, on vinyl, on compact discs. With the rise of online music, the art form became free: songs could be exchanged from fan to fan across continents, acts were able to reach audiences directly. Much has been made of online music's economic threat (despite the fact that top-selling acts, from Scott Joplin to TLC, have faced money woes doing things the old way), but the Net is also changing the sound of music: rare tracks, remixes and material too strange for...

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