That’s right. Peer-to-peer networking, . aka Kazaa, Morpheus, BearShare, Gnutella and Imesh, not to mention Grokster and Blubster. I’ve been thinking about all those songs that are free for the taking. I’ve been thinking about all the money I saved by jacking into the P2P networks and downloading songs by Aerosmith and Alan Jackson. Yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot about P2P.

But lately I’ve been thinking about the record labels, and their claims that P2P is ruining their industry. Like last night when I was downloading 30, maybe 40 Neil Young songs, and I started thinking about the poor Reprise Records exec that has to go home and tell his kids that they have to sell the family dog because of all the lost sales. Kind of gets you right here, doesn’t it?

And I’ve been thinking about the record stores, like Tower and Virgin, and all those stockers, clerks and middle managers whose financial security is being destroyed by people downloading Dream Theater, Morbid Angel and The Juliana Theory. Heck, there once was a time when working in a record shop meant financial security for life, but that’s all changed since P2P came to town. Yeah, I think about that. A lot.

Plus, I’ve been thinking about the artists themselves, and how they didn’t make one thin dime off of all the songs I downloaded through P2P networks. Like David Bowie, whose last three CDs now rest on my hard drive, or Life Of Agony and Kathy Mattea, which I love dearly, but whose artistic efforts I never paid for on those nights I spent filling up my hard drive with their songs. Yes, many are the nights I’ve lost sleep over P2P.

I guess the bottom line is that P2P means more than just diminishing profits for the major labels, more than just lost sales for the local mom & pop record stores and more than just smaller royalty payments for songwriters and publishers. After all, as a music fan I’m contributing to the destruction of an entire economic infrastructure that has served me so well in the past by introducing me to artists such as Cathie Ryan or Rhonda Vincent. Yeah, I’ve been thinking about the big picture, and how it relates to P2P as I browse my hard drive packed with songs by Elton John, Sting and Cheap Trick. And you know what? Looking at all the free music that I’ve accumulated through P2P networks has really made me think.

Yeah, that’s right. I think it’s time for a new hard drive. Perhaps an extra 50 megs of storage.

Oh, would you look at that. Someone has just posted the entire Metallica catalog on Kazaa. Hmmm… I wonder if 50 megs is enough.