Chances are that 10 years ago you were getting your music in one of two ways: Buying physical CDs from a record shop or downloading it from Napster. But that all changed April 13, 2002 when Metallica sued Napster for copyright infringement.

The band, in particular their Danish drummer Lars Ulrich, took Napster head on. And with a vengeance. He said in a press release that “Napster hijacked [Metallica’s] music without asking. They never sought our permission. ” And while that point is debatable (Napster never stored files, but was actually just a conduit for users), Ulrich and the rest of Metallica changed the way we listen to music online forever.

If it wasn’t for Metallica’s infamous lawsuit, many of the options we have today might not exist. Napster was forced to rethink the way it operated which led to one of the first subscription-based music services online. This paved the road for Apple’s iTunes, Rdio, Spotify, Pandora and many more. I am willing to bet that if Ulrich would’ve became a professional tennis player (like he originally planned), I wouldn’t be listening to Megadeth on Spotify as I write this.

But where does will online music be a few years from now?

We’ve said it before, but internet technology tends to move in dog years, and online music services are no different. We’ve already seen intense social integration with Spotify, which is one of its best features. The future of online music sharing lays within the realm of social media. People used to make mix tapes to pass out to their friends. Then we made mix CDs, and now we make playlists on Spotify and share them to our Facebook. In the end, it’s all the same, the medium just changes.

Tell us how you listen to and share music in the comments! Bonus points for anyone who still makes mix tapes!

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