Could it be that the TIs have finally found a way to make money from rap music on the Internets?

These days, you can hardly swing a dead cat without hitting a story about how some song you've hardly even heard has set a new digital sales record. Eminem did it a couple of weeks ago, then Flo Rida did it again. It's only a matter of time before someone else does it.

Think about it: I've only heard that Flo Rida song once, in the context of a discussion about how he's become so successful despite the fact that you hardly ever hear his music. Even that Eminem song I don't hear very often, given how popular it is. I hear that new 50 Cent song, which no one really likes, more often than I hear "Crack a Bottle" on Eminem's own station on Sirius.

The fuck?

You can only imagine what might happen if one of these TI-backed, major label rappers actually came up with a song that was a genuine hit, in the sense that people really liked it and desired to hear it.

Selling half a million digital downloads in a week might not be such a big deal, in the sense that they only cost $.99 each - it's hardly a suitable replacement for selling half a million copies of an album that costs at least $12, which the labels used to do week in and week out, back in the day.

Still, it's a half a million dollars in a week for a song - and not even necessarily an especially good song. If this trend continues, I could very easily see a song selling a million or more copies in a week. The key, for the TIs, is: making sure this trend continues.

The only times I've ever paid any money to download music were when it was an artist I knew, and I wanted to show support, Internet Soldiers-style, and when someone gave me a gift card to ITunes. But I'm not gonna lie - the idea of paying to download music is somewhat tempting, in the sense that it's not very much money at all, even if you work for XXL.

The reason I don't bother is because it's too easy to go to one of these sites that specialize in bootlegging people's shit. I'll deal with umpteen ads from motherfucking Sharebee trying install malicious software on my computer, in order to save a dollar - I've got antivirus protection, and lord knows I've got free time. No Boutros.

Which begs the question: How long are the labels gonna deal with these sites bootlegging their shit? If I'm one of these TIs, and I can make even a few grand a week by shutting down one of these blogs, why wouldn't I? I could take that money over to the East Side and get some glitter on my face.

In all likelihood, the TIs could make a lot more money than just that. There must be a veritable shedload of people who are like me, in that they'll continue to steal music, as long as it's free and easy, but if it ever gets to the point where it's not, it's not like they're never gonna listen to any new music ever again. Believe me, I've settled on things a lot more traumatic than paying for music.

The argument you hear put forth by the bootleggers is that they help labels promote artists, and of course I'm not buying it. Keep in mind, I enjoy these sites myself, and I hope they continue bootlegging people's shit, if only because it's gonna save me money. But lets face it, these sites mostly only help promote artists that don't merit being mentioned in any other media. If you're Donnie Goines or somebody, you might welcome the free promotion. But if you're Eminem, it's probably just cutting into your money.