By Ron VandenBoom
For those who haven't already heard, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney returned to the Cavern Club earlier this week for a one-time-only concert that was billed as a journey down memory lane as well as a promotional venue for the release of his new album, Run Devil Run.
The hour-long concert was only broadcast over the Internet to a crowd that has been estimated by some sources to have been the largest ever to access a website at one time. An estimated 1.8 million people logged on to www.msn.co.uk to watch the live feed. Additional numbers would have joined the rest of the viewers, but couldn't obtain access after the server packed out.
Another eight-million people are said to have logged on after the concert to watch an "on demand" replay of the show during the 18 hours MSN-UK kept the site on their server.
Eat your heart out America, I was one of the eight-million who logged on after the event. It was a good show and well worth the hour I spent on the Internet.
By the way, the music is good, old fashion rock and roll of the late 1950s and early 1960s style -- if your interested.
More than just being able to watch the concert, I was reminded that finding music over the Internet has become one of the most popular and controversial uses of the World Wide Web in recent times. Mainly through the advent of MP3s, the Internet provides music to accommodate every taste imaginable, and most of it is free.
During the holiday season, surfers can also find Christmas music on the Web. While most of it comes in the form of midi music, or computer generated creations that resemble actual musical instruments but contain no vocal tracks, some actual recordings do exist.
One site that I've mentioned many times is www.broadcast.com.
Broadcast.com offers a special Christmas section under its "Music Jukebox" section that contains a list of full-length albums that range from the classical to the contemporary musical styles. All of the albums stream at 28.8K, so just about any platform can listen without problems or interruptions while the Real Audio plug-in buffers.
The only selections I strongly recommend you avoid are those that incorporate assorted animal sounds into Christmas carols.
If you're one of those who has become addicted to MP3s, the pickings are a little slimmer but still available. But be prepared to wait 10-20 minutes for each song you want to down-load.
Check out www.rpi.edu/~gerrij/xmasmp3, and see whether any of the MP3s on this site appeals to you.
The site contains many classic songs from Bing Crosby's rendition of Silver Bells, to Kenny G's version of Havre Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. You can also down-load tunes by John Lennon, the Carpenters, the Pretenders and even Madonna, singing Santa Baby.
Midi files are still the most common form of Christmas music on the Internet and finding a site that has some is far from difficult. Just access a search engine and type in key words like Christmas music or midi music and you won't have to search for long.
If however you want a short-cut, surf over to www.midifarm.com/holiday/merry_christmas.asp and check out their selection. It certainly isn't the largest collection on the Internet, but it does contain some of the best arrangements.
If a large list is more what you were looking for, try visiting www.yuleloveit.com and click on their midi music section to find three pages of tunes.
These are quick to down-load and still sound pretty good.