The Real Secret About OiNK: It Was Kind Of Overrated! (Don’t You Think?)

Oct 24th, 2007 // 49 Comments

oinkus9.pngSo as many of you know, I used to have an OiNK account until this past April, when my former cohort decided to post the site’s most shared torrents and the admins over there pitched a fit. But you know what? Getting kicked turned out to be kind of liberating!

Sure, my banishment meant that I’d have to wait an hour or two before finding out that the new Bjork record had leaked. But the smug, cute-avatar-laden attitude of the site’s denizens–not to mention the fact that the site’s catalog was only “everything you’d ever want” if you were a twentysomething white dude whose music taste began at “indie” and ended at “rock”–irritated the crap out of me. And judging by the “Good riddance”-filled IMs and e-mails that I’ve been receiving over the past 24 hours, I wasn’t alone.

In fact, when I got booted, I was only worried about one thing: Whether or not my friend who’d invited me to the site a few years ago would get kicked as well; it didn’t seem fair that he’d have to pay for my online tomfoolery of 2007 because of a decision he made in 2005. But everything else–the music, the insufferable indieosity, the arguments about bitrate–was pretty much replaceable elsewhere on the Internet, albeit in forms that one might have to pay for once in a while (note: for those of you who start a hue and cry about the out-of-print rarities offered by the site, I would like to introduce you to the world of .rar blogs and GEMM) and not in a self-satisfied pastel wrapper.

Anyway, I’m curious: How did you feel about OiNK? Because I suspect that the prevailing attitude toward it around these parts isn’t as mournful as the collective freak-out we’ve been witnessing over the past 30 hours might indicate.

Gawker Media polls require Javascript; if you’re viewing this in an RSS reader, click through to view in your Javascript-enabled web browser.

[Image via Oink Memorial]


  1. Emerson Dameron

    Yes, it’s stealing, but yes, I do it, and yes, it’s something industry whores need to negotiate with beyond snitching and waving their fingers. OiNK, though, was too precious by half. There are plenty of other, less insufferable pushers on the block. And I can’t complain about seeing certain elements of its snobbery-among-thieves ethos backfire so badly, or about the BrooklynVegan schadenfreude.

  2. Twilly

    I never used Oink. I actually didn’t know it existed until yesterday. I’ve always been more of a PirateBay girl myself.

  3. relaxing

    Sour grapes!

    I can’t tell you how many of my requests for out of print soul and hip hop records got filled on that site (literally, I can’t since the site is gone, but I assure you there were many.)

    I had something like a +1 TB margin on my ratio, mostly built up from uploading FLAC rips of jazz LPs, so the interest was definitely there.

    For those of you fleeing to Rapidsearch and RAR blogs, let me introduce you to the world of shitty, incomplete rips, begging for missing passwords, split files, 100mb-a-day download limits…

  4. MTS

    Whoooo caressssssss. There’s more important stuff going on in the world of music today, anyway. Like that little senate hearing on the future of radio broadcasting:


  5. SabreFanCS

    The constant oink bashing here is getting tiresome.

    I think we get that you guys (girls) at idolator don’t understand what made people gravitate toward the site. It was the purists who were in search of a perfect quality recording of some obscure Niagara EP, couldn’t find a specific unkonwn irish folk singer anywhere else, or (obscure example 3) that made people love the “library-esque” appeal of it…

    see DJ Rupture’s defense post today on his blog – [] – maybe then you’ll understand exactly why people would be upset.

  6. Christopher R. Weingarten

    “I had something like a +1 TB margin on my ratio, mostly built up from uploading FLAC rips of jazz LPs”

    That’s why Idolator hates Oink

  7. janine

    @relaxing: GEMM’s still up. Find me an OoP album that you got from OiNK that’s not there.

    BTW, I love GEMM; it’s like shopping in tiny independent record stores all over the world at once. That’s my go-to place for buying music. (That’s right, I hate/am so disinterested in music that I read this site and pay for all of my music.)

  8. Tippy and Bad Girl

    not to mention the fact that the site’s catalog was only “everything you’d ever want” if you were a twentysomething white dude whose music taste began at “indie” and ended at “rock”–irritated the crap out of me.

    There are a ton of reasons to slag off OiNK, but you coudn’t be more off the mark here. Sure, the top torrents were usually the big indie-rock albums, but to pretend that OiNK’s catalog was limited to indie-rock is just kinda fatuous. Like, willfully wrong.

    Whatevs. I hope a legal OiNK-like system pops out of all this kerfluffle. OiNK being free was obvs Reason #1 for usage, but it really did have a lot of great things going for it.

  9. pissy elliott

    I’m going to defer from judgments on OiNK itself, but just say that an “I Spit On Your Grave” reference is always appreciated.

  10. Matthew Perpetua

    But Janine — people have to PAY MONEY on GEMM! Can’t you see the huge problem with that???????

  11. Matthew Perpetua

    Also, can people PLEASE stop acting as though Oink invented the benefits of P2P?

  12. cruzich

    I loved Oink. I loved the ability to read about some new music, or hear about it from a friend, and hop over there to give it a listen.

    And I totally agree with Tippy & Bad Girl’s comment about your mischaracterization of what was available on Oink. I’d say over the year I was there there were maybe 4 or 5 things I looked for that I couldn’t find, and in almost every case someone U/Led it within a week of my making a request. Now, I was’t looking for the weirdest, most out-there stuff imaginable, but my tastes run pretty far afield from the indie-rock that you suggest was their only stock in trade.

    As far as you having to “wait an hour or two before finding out that the new Bjork record had leaked,” not all of us are quite as plugged in to the advance-copy scene as you. Without Oink, I’m sure I’ll still find out that some specific album has leaked (probably by reading about it here), but I won’t have any way of actually getting my hands on a copy until it’s available legitimately.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of the people crying about how the demise of Oink is the WORST THING EVAR. We were all stealing music. People can justify it any way they want — I certainly have — but that’s the bottom line.

    I am super-bummed, though — thanks to Oink, I was able to listen to way more music, especially new music, than I’d been able to listen to in years. It’s like I was back in college, amassing new and interesting stuff on a daily basis, and since it was all in one place I didn’t have to spend time bugging my brother and my in-the-know friends for copies of cool stuff. Now I guess I’ll just go back to being the out-of-touch 37-year-old I was pre-Oink, and hope that the local AAA station occasionally plays something new & cool so I can go Dl it at iTunes.

    Unless someone has an invite to some other private site they want to send my way…

  13. pinder

    yeah, oink was great cause at least you knew you’d get properly encoded, fully tagged mp3s. at least you knew what you were getting instead of those password encoded .rar ones where you have to go find the 5th word on some adclick just so you could listen to Unknown Artist – Untitled.

    but then again, i was downloading less and less this year anyway, so I guess I’ll be alright. maybe it’ll be a good thing and will be less blog hype for Athlete, Bravery, Bloc Party, Hard Fi, Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian, etc…

  14. Anonymous

    i still don’t understand all the name-calling and reveling in oink’s demise when you guys have a regular feature called “leak of the day” featuring albums that were somehow procured far before their release date.

    the fact that you lost your oink account a while back does not change the fact that the albums could have originated there even if you didn’t get them directly from the site. and what does it matter anyway? even if you got them somewhere else, you’re still participating in the illegal world of pre-release leaks…and preaching about thieving bitterrorists in the next breath.

  15. Weezy F Baby

    uh, yeah, oink was pretty great. not sure what you dudes are tripping on.

  16. King of Pants

    @chim_richalds: i still don’t understand all the name-calling and reveling in oink’s demise

    Perhaps you missed the part where someone tried to equate oink closing down with the fires in Southern California. Perhaps you missed the part where we’re not so much mocking oink itself as a resource, but the utterly out-of-proportion blogwailing and obnoxious entitlement screeds and hopelessly mangled and reductive reasoning that’s trying to find some sort of moral high ground to patronizing a site that just hosted a bunch of illegal MP3s.

    Perhaps you missed the part where anyone who points out the above fact — that, in fact, what oink was doing was breaking the law, and yeah it sucks but jesus this isn’t the French Revolution, people — are instantly branded as RIAA ball-sucking toadies who have hearts of pure ass, while the grieving oinksters are saints from Heaven, just trying to get the word on the bands out there, man. Perhaps you missed that part where those of us who would love a resource for out-of-print music that we have no real way of getting at all don’t buy into a binary, freshman-level narrative of MONSTER RIAA vs. Noble File Traders.

    Perhaps you missed that this is a blog that takes the piss out of other music blogs that take themselves way too seriously, as if talking about something is the same as supporting it, that feeds off attention as if it could nourish, that seems to feel that a thousand downloads of an MP3 is enough to reimburse artists who are tyring to get by somehow, and if they dare ask for monetary compensation for their work, they’re sellouts and tools.

    And perhaps you missed the part where, in the middle of this insanely stupid bitchfest, people are actually trying to deal with the ramifications of file sharing and media-as-commodity while still trying to exist in a world that needs the rent or mortgage paid, trying to stay out of the assrape clutches of a media conglomerate’s insane policies while still realizing that the “music should be free, man!” wankery is, well, wankery and thus attempting to forge some sort of new path in a landscape that has utterly changed in the last ten years, not only in the music industry but in every creative pursuit under the sun, thanks to Le Internet.

    So excuse us our revel, please, as we see a shitton of bad thinking consume itself.

  17. The Van Buren Boys

    Ok. I’ll try and settle this. In my opinion, the reason for all of the schadenfreude from Idolator isn’t because people were illegally downloading music (correct me if I’m wrong). It’s because of the sense of entitlement that many of the former users have. The vibe that I’m getting from reading some comments posted here and elsewhere is that “we deserve OiNK because it introduces us to new music.” Also, some bloggers are getting all bitchy saying that that’s how they find new bands to post about and therefore the artists are getting publicity for free and therefore nobody should be mad. NEWSFLASH: You and your blog aren’t important. If an artist wanted you to hear their music without paying for it they would give it to you.

    *Full Disclosure* I would be lying if I said that I have never illegally downloaded music but I definately don’t believe that I deserve it.

  18. Tippy and Bad Girl

    Putting entitled OiNK users in their place is about as worthwhile as LOLXian posts on other boards. Just not all that interesting or productive.

    What would be interesting and productive is some links to stories about IRC/scene peeps. It’s probably outside of most music blogs’ resources and purview, but I’d love to get some info on that side of things.

    And btw Idolator I lurve youse guys & gals. You all are doing a fine job either way!

  19. Peacocktails

    ‘music taste began at “indie” and ended at “rock”‘

    Liar. You think you’re gonna find Vince Gill’s 4-disc ‘These Days’ on stereogum or some shit? k. thx.

  20. The Mozfather

    I think the demise of Oink has produced an effective means of separating the douches from the non-douches. It’s funny how people will insulate themselves from their conscience by pre-emptively arguing that what they are doing is highly moral.

  21. beta.rogan

    I still say stealing music is no different than stealing any other form of art. You wouldn’t walk into a gallery and take a picture off the wall and expect to be able to walk out without paying do you? No matter how much you may hate the gallery (record label), and the way that they do business, at the end of the day you’re ultimately just taking money from the artist.

  22. Lucas Jensen

    @The Mozfather: Right on. You’re still fucking stealing. What other term is there? I love the euphemisms like “introducing myself to new artists.” No one says Oink users didn’t love music. What they’re saying is that said users felt entitled to an artist’s work without giving them fair compensation. They can shroud themselves under the guise of dismantling a corrupt industry, but indie artists were hurt amongst the major label dross. The whole “15 bucks for three songs!” meme has to die.

  23. Lucas Jensen

    @beta.rogan: Amen.

  24. Paula

    When you think about it, Oink’s continued success was a mixed bag for smaller labels and non-commercial bands. Sure their music got a lot more play and they reached more consumers, but the vast majority of people who downloaded from Oink never bothered to go and actually buy the album. They simply didn’t have to. I mean, why would you if you already have it in easily manageable mp3 format, right?

    My point, is that most true Indie-rock albums cost about 11 bucks for 15 quality songs, which is a far cry from the price-amping of most major label albums. So why steal it? Slightly hypocritical, don’t you think, particularly when you’re that self-same indie-snob asshole who just raves about this amazing new band who they can’t even bother to shell out the 11 bucks to support.

    If you want to steal music, go right ahead – we all do it, and who really wants to spend money on that Michael Jackson Greatest Hits album that you’re ashamed of owning? – but don’t get all hyped and self-righteous about how the death of Oink is the death of music as we know it.

  25. janine

    @Tippy and Bad Girl: Productive? No. Entertaining? Endlessly.

    This is like Idolator’s Julia Allison. There’s a certain “Only on the internet, folks!” vibe. It’s also a little divisive, because clearly some commenters are enjoying it more than others. Put me in the enjoying camp.

    And what in the world is interesting about “stories about IRC/scene peeps?”

    Like a poster on the dailyheights messageboard, I miss talking $hit about the Black Kids.

  26. Vitamin B12

    @beta.rogan: I’ve stayed the hell out of this because, frankly, life is too short. Oink’s gone, something else like it will come along, we’ll be ok and downloading copyrighted material again in no time, and this is, to put it reductively, a very large, very grey moral, legal, and ethical area. NOW:

    When you steal a picture from the gallery, the gallery no longer has it. People can’t come and look at it and enjoy it. Someone downloads MP3s, those MP3s are still at their point of origin. The person distributing them in the first place still has them and can enjoy them, as can you, and anyone else who comes along. The CDs are still in the stores and in people’s stereos, and it’s still out there. So no, downloading MP3′s and swiping one-of-a-kind art are not the same thing, or even similar.

    Is this ok? I’m betting this is a question that will last as long as the internet does.

  27. Vitamin B12

    @beta.rogan: To expand the metaphor (apologies for the 2x post), it would be like someone walking into a gallery and taking a decent quality, close-to-lifesize photo of a piece of art, which, as it happens, people do fairly often.

  28. Tippy and Bad Girl

    This is like Idolator’s Julia Allison …

    DO NOT WANT DO NOT WANT DO NOT etc.! That is certainly an apt line to draw though …

    And what in the world is interesting about “stories about IRC/scene peeps?”

    It’s a massive part of the file-sharing world that doesn’t get talked about much above-ground. Any idiotblog can spout about the ethics of p2ping. “Self-righteous blogger defends file-sharing! News @ 11″ gets played out (for me at least) pretty quickly. You wouldn’t think that Media-defender would be all that interesting, but those leaked emails have provided hours of lulz, plus they give you a nice peek into a side of file-sharing that is in the shadows.

    Whatever, the fact that I found this forgotten ILM thread makes this whole OiNK dust-up worthwhile.

  29. Maura Johnston

    @Tippy and Bad Girl: Yes, everyone should read that ILM thread.(“(answer in paragraph format, eight sentence minimum)” — so many oulz.) But can you e-mail me re: the IRC stuff? I’d love to hear more, and I haven’t been on IRC since my tcsh-tastic university days.

  30. DJorn

    I was on OiNK for a couple months and all I ever did was worry about my ratio, even going so far as to download several recent popular releases I didn’t even want in hopes of running up said ratio.

  31. Anonymous

    the sense of entitlement is being blown out of proportion. sure, you’re going to get some idiots (welcome to the internet) posting gandhi quotes and likening oink’s downfall to the wildfires but by and large it’s just former users lamenting the loss of an incredible, albeit illegal resource they once had at their fingertips.

    the vast majority of those who illegally download music are under no illusions – they are quite aware that it’s stealing but continue because the chances of getting caught are extremely slim. focusing on the relative few that are railing against the evil record industry and justifying file sharing via twisted logic is just more pointless “blogwailing.”

  32. Mary

    The only way you’d think OiNK was all indie rock for white boys is if you were only looking for and downloading indie rock for white boys. OiNK had EVERYTHING, and I will miss it dearly.

  33. beta.rogan

    @Vitamin B12:

    The way I see it, someone taking a photo of piece of art is more like making your own recording of a live concert. It’s not the same thing as being there, and it’s not the quality of a produced piece of music. Sometimes close, but not the real thing. (and this is sometimes not allowed, just like in some museums photography is prohibited.)

    With music / file sharing as we know it, it’s having the original files and allowing everyone to copy them for free and at will. You think exact scans of Jeff Koons’ photos should be available for unlimited free access for anyone with a computer and a high-speed connection, just because it’s technically possible? The original negative could still be there…

    Art is art, just because music mass produced or easy to copy doesn’t make it less valuable or less important.

  34. The Mozfather

    @chim_richalds: You apparently have not been reading about half the Internet lately. Because the little pernicious buggers are everywhere, and boy, are they blogwailing. Personally, I’m enjoying the Idolator slap-down.

    @Mary: Oh, I remember – on this very site – when I argued that OiNK was not the be-all and end-all of the Internet and music, and I got laughed at. Yes, it might have had a great collection of music, but it’s not like it had the only music on the Internet. My ability to enjoy music between yesterday and today has not changed one bit, and you know what? I enjoy a lot of music. So hold off on those unnecessary tears. There is life after OiNK! And it’s quite fun!

  35. sparkletone

    But the smug, cute-avatar-laden attitude of the site’s denizens–not to mention the fact that the site’s catalog was only “everything you’d ever want” if you were a twentysomething white dude whose music taste began at “indie” and ended at “rock”–irritated the crap out of me.

    Completely ignoring the rest of your post, and all… A friend of mine did nothing but download opera from Oink.

    Opera. And apparently the selection didn’t suck.

    There was a guy in the Metafilter thread about the death of Oink talking about how all he downloaded were these weird old industrial records that aren’t in print anymore. Or crazy hard to find Australian hip hop.

    Sure sounds like a filthy den of pure-indie snobs to me!

  36. sparkletone

    More generally: From everything I’ve read about Oink both in the last couple days, and before then… I don’t think it was over-rated.

    I’m going to have to go with DJ Rupture on this one. If you ignore the illegallity/immorality and consider the site purely in terms of its ability to distribute music to the people who want it in a fast, easy-to-use manner…

    It was the best music site on the Internots.

  37. Jon W

    @relaxing: “I had something like a +1 TB margin on my ratio, mostly built up from uploading FLAC rips of jazz LPs”

    Off some crap turntable with a crap cart with a crap ADC I wager.

    Re: IRC / I recall around 1998(?) running an XDCC bot with some 64K rips of Nirvana boots of EFnet, ahhh

  38. relaxing

    @Jon Williams: Oooh, you really hurt my feelings there! Sorry, I won’t be sucked into an audiophile-dick size contest.

    You know you could have traded Nirvana tapes by mail for blanks and postage, right?

  39. mhulot

    I hadn’t downloaded much music at all since the demise of Napster, until I found out about Oink a year or so ago. The trap about these sorts of sites is that most of the stuff I downloaded I put on my queue just to download it – especially the more mainstream or hyped-up bands. You just get in this mindset of wanting to consume as much musical information as possible, but then every once in a while you realize that you downloaded (for example…) Kelly Clarkson’s new album six months ago and haven’t listened to it once, and probably never will. So it’s a mixed blessing, in more ways than are usually noted. Downloading from Oink seems to make music less important, and I find myself spending less and less time with each new album I listen to. I’m okay with never downloading anything for free ever again, actually – since the Napster days I’ve been super paranoid about RIAA whatever and only joined up with Oink because I stupidly thought that the membership thing made it safer than other sites. It’s an awful temptation for a music-head to have a huge library of stuff to listen to, with all of it so amazingly convenient. Part of the appeal of Oink for a music-head is that you will download more music than you can ever listen to. But, of course, you’ll never listen to most of it. What’s irresistible is the option. And the fact that for most it’s largely just a very pleasant way to waste time (which is what the internet’s for, right?).

    What I do want to say about Oink in its defense – and I sincerely hope that somebody comes up with a good system for this (I’ve been waiting for a quality monthly-subscription type service, which I’d join in a heartbeat) – is that I got to try out an amazing variety of music. I don’t want to carp on about the rare/OOP vinyl LPs and all that, since as other commenters have noted, there are ways to find those in these days of world wide webs, but Oink can let a neophyte hear all that stuff. Without Oink I never would have heard about half of the artists on my iPod, which includes plenty of music I never thought I’d ever listen to in a million years (jazz, experimental indie noise, Beyonce). And okay, okay, the less obscure music can be listened to on myspace and elsewhere, but not all of it. A site like Oink can really serve a purpose within the music-loving community, and although I understand where the RIAA is coming from, I wish they’d be tackling the downloading problem with a more productive attitude. Because there are ways they could make this work for them, and I hope they do. Soon.

  40. mishaps

    I loved Oink, but when I got booted for lack of activity, I didn’t bother to try to get back on. If that doesn’t sum up my relationship to the site perfectly, I don’t know what does.

    And count me in as another person who used it to find a lot more out of print stuff than new releases, which made ratio-maintenance an exciting adventure.

  41. DoppleSeth

    My insufferable OiNK story involves some guys at a bar telling me that they hand out invites to meet chicks, and then making sure to get my e-mail so I could get an invite, which I never did get and would have just given to my torrent master roommate had it shown up.

    I still don’t know why they were trying to get me to sign up… maybe it was because of my obvious hatred of the music playing in the bar we were at. It was honestly what I imagine 6th grade dances now play. A lot of shitty hip hop, with one rock song thrown in for the white kids. in this case it was rage against the machine. When I was in middle school it was Nirvana. Oh my how little things have changed.

    Oh, also they could have swung both ways, or just wanted a frien who wouldn’t bring them to shitty bars located beneath a Ruby Tuesday’s and across the street from the Verizon center.

  42. Anonymous

    @Tippy and Bad Girl:

    “What would be interesting and productive is some links to stories about IRC/scene peeps. It’s probably outside of most music blogs’ resources and purview, but I’d love to get some info on that side of things.”



    Reeeeally dorky but it does give a quick overview of the rules (which they’re all very anal about) and what not. It ends up being a lot less interesting than you think think it’ll be, except for the fact that most of the scene groups hate p2p in general.

  43. space race ace

    am I sad? Yeah — but I’m not upset. I’ll just have to make do without for a while. Other p2p resources were nice, but the thing about OiNK was its reliability for quality and speed. I could pull anything I wanted — not just white-bread indie rock — and have a correctly labeled, high quality version. If anything, it’s a great model for how music distribution should be in the future!

    But sadly, I don’t think the blog backlash is warranted and anything more than sour grapes. It’s saying “ha ha” for the sake of saying “ha ha” — only because the internet music blog scene is so full of people on high horses that they relish laughing at anyone’s demise rather than figuring out ways to constructively advance musical culture and business. Not everyone, I’ve seen a lot of great comments in here, but a lot of people seem to enjoy saying “well they get what they deserve” as if they’ve never eaten of the forbidden fruit.

    Sense of entitlement? Of course people have a sense of entitlement about music — people these days have a sense of entitlement about everything.

  44. cruzich

    Perhaps you missed the part where someone tried to equate oink closing down with the fires in Southern California.

    As a matter of fact, I did miss that. Speaking as someone who lost him home in the last round of southern California wildfires, I can only say that I hope whoever wrote that never has to find out just how wrong he or she is.

  45. dana danger

    @Tippy and Bad Girl: This is like Idolator’s Julia Allison.


  46. mullingitover

    The funny thing with the RIAA is that they never seem to crack down on sites that are sharing the latest top 40 hits…they always seem to crack down when sites really get a quality library of hard-to-find, obscure, and often fucking great music that you can’t find anywhere else.

    Their anti-piracy strategy isn’t about helping artists as much as it’s about protecting their supply chain.

  47. sovietpanda

    I’m going to miss OiNK a TON, and I could give a shit about indie rock. The electronic music section was incredible. And I don’t pretend that I’m entitled to steal music, it was just nice to not pay import prices for a 12″ with one good remix that wasn’t available on Beatport or iTunes…

  48. roquestrew

    @sovietpanda: so, so true

  49. DudeAsInCool

    Never used Oink, but it sounds as if their membership provided access to lots great material that wasn’t available elsewhere commerically. The fact that Oink existed simply points out the fact that there is a void in the marketplace – the industry is not listening to or servicing their consumers properly, so consumers are creating their own venues and will continue to do so.

Leave A Comment