Thursday, March 11, 2004

Hey, thanks for the well wishes all.

I'm still feeling a bit punk, but I noticed a lot of traffic coming in from Woebot and following up on it, I found... well, click here and you'll see what I found.

So I spent awhile crafting a response and this is it:

Perhaps I'm a bit dense, but I'm not certain whether your post is mocking me or just bein' a bit snarky (though seeing as my name follows the phrase "extremely lame", I'm inclined to presume the former). Regardless, it's attracting a ton of response at me site, so... sew buttons. They tell me any publicity is good publicity if they spell your name right. You did spell my name right, right?

Anyway, in response (and apologies in advance for both my loggorhea, my buckshot spray (lack of) debating style and a bit of flowery bullshit):

FWIW, although I appreciate the nod, I don't think I'm at all "high profiling" (my daily circulation is roughly 1% of Modern Ferret Magazine; so I've a bit to go afore I reach Murdoch hype levels). Musicblogging is still totally an underground activity, because (mostly) the INTERNET is still an underground activity. Given all that goes on in this huge open air bazaar, no matter how many people find their way on here, there's always more nooks and crannies in this tardis to be hidden away in. No doubt some enterprising journalist or music exec WILL discover the phenom in short order, but the wave is still cresting. I don't think any of us have seen any REAL exposure yet.

I _wouldn't_ apologize for coming off evangelical, though; not when it comes to music. I hail from a family where music was ALWAYS on and every moment was soundtracked. Music is roughly as important to me as food. At the moment, musicblogging strikes me as a brandnew, proletariat owned and operated method to distribute music internationally to anyone regardless of social or economic status with access to their library/internetpub/schoolcomputer/whatever.

With music comes culture, new ideas, new ways of appreciating and seeing the world. "Dark was the night, cold was the ground" looks like the heart of a man; "smells like teen" is ALWAYS gonna tap into an interior fifteen year old; "naima" sounds like love. Songs are art, but they're also shared communication; virals that can facilitate understanding and connection between people in a way that few other things can. Music is at least as important to mankind as politics, if not more. Certainly what I was MOST drawn to in your post was the point that "I do think the argument that being exposed to music you wouldn't normally come across can turn you on to it." THAT is the crux of the issue to me. If a kid in Utah hears "strange fruit" for the first time and it causes him to question his concepts of race; if a suicidal woman in Portugal finds stumbles on a susana baca track that speaks to her; if a young Bronx thug unearths a marvin gaye track that sets him on the path to learning the flue; if a Williamsburg hipster becomes so enamored of a japanese swing band in the thirties that he gives better service at his coffee bar: these things make musicblogging worthwhile and are a hundred times more unlikely to occur without it.

I really hope that the people who dl stuff from me aren't "rapacious sound-grabbers" as Tom puts it. As my circulation has started to mellow, I think a lot of that type have seen grabbed and gone and recognized that I'm not what they're looking for. They're not what I'm looking for either. I'm looking to actually reach people, not help fill up their hard drives.

Full disclosure: I listen to EVERY track I download numerous times. This DOES mean I have a heavy backlog (I'm backed up to March 3rd right now) but I try not to take simply for the sake of accumulation. I'm in it to learn.

At no other time in history has so much information and art been available to so many people. We've finally remade The Library of Alexandria but instead of glorifying, exploiting and maximizing its potential; we get frightened that it's gonna cause an artistic economic collapse. I simply don't believe that posting music online is damaging record sales. Some people WANT the concrete item, the liners, the disc, the album art and they're GOING to buy it regardless. Old arguments RE: bottled water, genie's out of the lamp, artists make most of their profit performing live anyway, etc still apply; but add to that this old chestnut lifted from a former cop: "a locked door only keeps an honest man out". People who rely exclusively on mp3s for music, as you suggest "may be practically the norm" AREN'T going to buy CD's regardless, they'll dub copies of their friends mixes. Most of my friends did that; didn't yours?

If anything (to paraphrase my argument over at So This Is Love), it's a numbers game. You host two songs by your hot new artist and 1,000 people download it who never would've heard of the guy otherwise and three buy the music. Well, there's three who just bought the music. Hosting costs are virtually insignificant, so I only see benefit and not harm.

Now Diego's response to that, that we somehow "own the music" doesn't ring true to me. If I tape the song off the radio, do I own the music? If I dub it from a friend (and incidentally, where was all this outrage when the mixtape went aboveground)? If I tape it off MTV (they do broadcast music don't they)? "Owning" music is like owning an idea; the real issue is profit, as in "does my listening to this music profit or detriment the artist"? I'd argue it always profits and never causes detriment.

Last note on profit: my average writing, research, compilation and edit time for the posts I'm putting up at th' Hut for the past two weeks is roughly four hours.
1) that is sad.
2) I'm PAYING for the privilege to host that stuff, not GETTING paid, and
3) THAT'S OKAY. I'm not doing this to make money, I'm doing it because I find it artistically (and yeah, narcissistically) rewarding. So do most artists, at least the ones worth a damn. Financial reward is great, lord knows I'll take whatever I can get; but it's not my motivating factor. Suggesting that music sharing damages the artist by distributing their work without compensation is nonsensical to me. For most artists distribution IS compensation. This may be naive, but as recording and production costs start to equal the price of a copy of garageband, it makes more and more sense; besides which, distribution should EVENTUALLY lead to financial profit (see: 50 cent) so biting the hand that fed you seems nuts to me.

Having said ALL that, my ethical considerations as I see them are to cover two bases: watch my own ass and don't offend the artist. The _instant_ I recieve a "please don't post this" I have every intention of taking the offending track (or post) down. As for how "fucking embarrassing" it would be for an artist to contact me to ask to have something taken down? Not very. We'd share different views on a subject that we both have cause to be passionate about. That seems reasonable.

The idea of streaming audio is a good one and not one that I'd considered. My only caveat there is that you're limited to wherever the computer is. Much of the music I listen to is situation and location specific; i.e., I would never want to listen to "lucky star" (the jaxx version, not the madonna) anywhere but the gym or while having sex and I wouldn't enjoy listening to ol' dirty at a place of business. Still, as computers get smaller and wifi gets bigger, streams might be the right wave to ride. I is intrigued.

YES, I'm being a tetch disingenous as regards draconian American copyright law and YES I'm guilty of being an idealist. So sue me. Actually, don't please. I'm poor and pretty and wouldn't do well in jail. Hold the syrup.

More (and better and more articulate) arguments on the subject can be found at Downhill Battle.

On the personal tip, I should note that I'm not familiar with your site (or you) at all so I don't know whether or not these missives are in keeping with a point that you've been considering on here for a long time and I'm just crashing the party late on this topic.

I will be reading you in the future, though.

I also realize that I'm painting a big target on my forehead by posting this response, but I don't mind. An open debate on these topics can only benefit everyone involved. As such, I'm posting this response over at my site as well.

Lastly I don't mean to suggest that I haven't noticed that the head of your argument is, essentially, watch your ass because you're treading on thin ice.

Point taken, my argument would be that where we're going WARRANTS treading on thin ice. It's a risk worth taking."

So there you go. As I say, I don't know the guy or the site; so I'm unsure precisely who's attention I've just gotten. I'm off to read some of his backblog for a better sense of just that.

Anyway, I thought now would be a good time to post that manifesto on musicblogging I'd been threatening.

Comments would be greatly appreciated.

And now I'm going back to bed in the middle of the afternoon, cuz I feel shitty.

More music by tomorrow at the absolute latest.