The newsgroup usage volume just keeps expanding all the time. No matter how much storage newshosts add, people just manage to fill it. Many ISP's news servers only hold about a day or two of binary posts. But premium news provider http://easynews.com strives to keep binaries for at least 30 days. When they add storage they sometime get to 48 days but within a few months retention dwindles to 24 days at which time they add even more storage. We're talking about terabytes. Rooms full of hard drives...
I've been using the newsgroups since 1992 using a Unix shell--I decoded binaries and sent them to myself over Z-modem. Hehehe. All I knew before then was local dialup private BBS's.
Then I moved up to Agent.
Interestingly Forte (Author of Agent) now offers their own news service for a pretty good price.
These days I still use Agent when I can but some groups have so many headers on them on easynews that recently Agent is unable to even retrieve the headers at all!!! One of the minuses of using servers that store that many days.
But luckily Easynews has a fantastically simple and easy web interface with global search and a zip system where you can mark what you want and download it from the web browser and a zip file.
Download speeds are phenomenal. I get 1200KB/sec on my cable modem. That's almost a FLOPPY DISK per SECOND! I can easily download a whole CD's worth of data in less than 10 minutes.
Easynews does cost $10 for 6 GB or 30 days. There are many other services that have much better deals. (But maybe not the web-interface).
However if I keep on top of things I can always download a lot from my cable providers news server as well.
Also, now to some of the binary groups there is an IRC and web "support system" where there are groups of people helping fill in requests through an automated IRC-Website posting system.
It's amazing how much newsgroup traffic and popularity has grown and still there are so many people who are just totally unaware of it all.
This is much better than the P2P networks where even on fast connections you are limited to the slow upload speed of most internet users.
MichaelCrawford: There are some moderated groups on usenet but I don't know if there are any moderated music groups.
But I suppose bands can post their music to newsgroups if they are not signed with any record companies. And they can include their website address, so people who download their songs can go to the website and buy albums, etc. and find out about concerts.
BTW, I noticed that on the newsgroups there is a tendency to post complete albums more than just individual songs.
The newsgroups contain just about anything--pictures, books, software, music, and lots of information. The newsgroups remain the fastest, most efficient and secure way to spread information around the world.
http://groups.google.com is a great place to find answers to any questions one may have. Whenever I have a computer problem I go there and I usually find the answer!