8 Bit and the Music of Piracy

Have you ever pirated software?

Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question, but if you have you’ll be aware of a phenomenon quite imbued in the culture of piracy. You’ll acquire your ill-gotten software from whatever source you acquire such warez from. (Warez, now there’s a word from my youth. Do any of the cool kids still say that, or even know what it means?) You scan it for viruses, or you do if you’re intelligent. Then you launch the installer and let it do its thing.

Then, before you actually use the software, you need to generate a key for it. Because it needs a serial number, you see. That serial number is mathematically generated and, if someone cracks that system or figures out the algorithm, then they can make a key generator programme, quite often called a “keygen.” Fire up the keygen and suddenly….


For some reason, some cracker out there decided to add a little something extra to their keygen programmes. Maybe it was to differentiate themselves from other crackers, because the culture lends itself to competition and the development of a reputation. Even today, the cracker culture revolves around “the scene.” The better known your group is, the better your online rep. Either way, music showed up in the keygens and it became a phenomenon unto itself.

Most of the time, this music is bouncy and happy and, often, 8-bit chiptune in nature. So it’s like a small celebration as you install your pirated goods.

Being a huge fan of 8-bit music, and a closeted fan of warez, it does my geeky heart good to know that there are places online I can listen to this stuff without downloading bits. KeyGenJukebox is a simple, but fantastic, site with a huge list of 8-bit wonderment. Then there’s KeyGenMusic, where you can download MIDI files of the music itself.

Dig the sites, or try the video for a sampling of 8-bit, pirated happiness.

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