I'm a sad little piggy without my OiNK
I am passionate about music. When I love an artist, I will tell every living soul I know. I will attend their concerts, I will buy their merchandise, and I will support them in any way possible. However, unless they are on an indie record label, I will not buy their CDs. This post from DemonBaby puts it into perspective perfectly, and if you're a music lover I hope that you read it. It's a bit long winded, but it's on point, it's important, and it's passionate.
If you're not familiar with Oink, here's a quick summary: Oink was was a free members-only site - to join it you had to be invited by a member. Members had access to an unprecedented community-driven database of music. Every album you could ever imagine was just one click away. Oink's extremely strict quality standards ensured that everything on the site was at pristine quality - 192kbps MP3 was their bare minimum, and they championed much higher quality MP3s as well as FLAC lossless downloads. They encouraged logs to verify that the music had been ripped from the CD without any errors. Transcodes - files encoded from other encoded files, resulting in lower quality - were strictly forbidden. You were always guaranteed higher quality music than iTunes or any other legal MP3 store. Oink's strict download/share ratio ensured that every album in their vast database was always well-seeded, resulting in downloads faster than anywhere else on the internet. A 100mb album would download in mere seconds on even an average broadband connection. Oink was known for getting pre-release albums before anyone else on the internet, often months before they hit retail - but they also had an extensive catalogue of music dating back decades, fueled by music lovers who took pride in uploading rare gems from their collection that other users were seeking out. If there was an album you couldn't find on Oink, you only had to post a request for it, and wait for someone who had it to fill your request. Even if the request was extremely rare, Oink's vast network of hundreds of thousands of music-lovers eager to contribute to the site usually ensured you wouldn't have to wait long.
In this sense, Oink was not only an absolute paradise for music fans, but it was unquestionably the most complete and most efficient music distribution model the world has ever known. I say that safely without exaggeration. It was like the world's largest music store, whose vastly superior selection and distribution was entirely stocked, supplied, organized, and expanded upon by its own consumers... I would have gladly paid a large monthly fee for a legal service as good as Oink - but none existed, because the music industry could never set aside their own greed and corporate bullshit to make it happen.
I would have gladly paid to have access to the music that was on Oink.