Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A question for my readers - Please read and comment


I've needed to take some time off from the blog to attend to work, family and band. I plan to begin posting in earnest again shortly and have some great exclusive interviews for your reading pleasure.

In the meantime I need to ask for reader feedback. When I launched this blog my vision was to combine my love of ska and reggae with my own personal insights and relationships to make it a full multi-media experience. The idea was to allow readers to not only read about the bands and musicians who made 2-Tone ska and reggae what it is, but also to listen to and enjoy the music. However, I have been criticized for allowing visitors to this blog to download songs and albums (most, but not all that are out-of-print and unavailable) via links found on other blogs and Web sites that make it readily available. It's been suggested that adding links to these sites is akin to being an accessory to a crime and that I am abetting the act of stealing music.

While I wish to withhold a decision on what I plan to do with this blog moving forward, I want to hear from all of you about your thoughts on this issue. There are people who fervently believe (and have made their views about this blog very clear here and on other blogs) that illegal music downloading is stealing and is morally wrong. They feel that it takes money away from artists who deserve to be compensated for their recorded work. As a musician and songwriter I can empathize with this position. Along with my band mates, I have invested thousands of hard earned dollars from gigs in recording 4 albums worth of our own original music. We have paid for studio time, paid for engineering, paid for mastering, paid for graphic art work, paid for pre- and post-production and paid for shipping the CDs. Don't get me started about indie record labels and the terms of their deals. I acutely know what it feels like to be on the other side. I'm pretty sure all our albums are available for download somewhere on the Internet. I know most kids who like our band have shared our albums with each other via get file programs that permit them to access each other's hard drives and download the music files directly. There is little we as a band can do to stop this. Instead we have to take solace in the fact that they like our music and know the songs when they see us live. If they buy a t-shirt or a button then we make up the cost and pay for our gas money and save for the next recording. That's life as an indie band.

On the other hand, as a passionate fan and music consumer for nearly 30 years, I have supported the old and new music industry and bands with my love, attention and hard earned cash. I've paid top dollar to see thousands of live shows at clubs, arenas and stadiums and I have always made a point of also buying a t-shirt, poster or a tour program (this is what some of my best memories are made of). I have spent countless thousands and thousands of dollars on records, 45's, 12" singles, bootleg LPs, cassette tapes, CD's and MP3 downloads. I am old enough to remember when albums and CDs were priced at $19.99 a piece at Tower Records and I have bought far too many $30 and $4o imports and paid $50 for bootlegs at New York City records stores. I am an active iTunes user and have bought plenty of music from eMusic and Amazon. I support new models of distribution that make it easier for fans to access music that is affordable. All to often, music fans have paid far too much for music. Our passion was often taking advantage of to underwrite high music executive salaries, drug and alcohol fueled band riders and largess. Like the current banking crisis, the music industry binged itself to death. Then, when Shawn Fanning launched Napster the music industry went after its own consumers instead of adapting and providing them what they wanted.

So, I'm asking both my regular readers as well as those of you who come here solely to download what you think and what you would like to see happen. Let me hear what you think.

7 comments:

DirtyFinger said...

To be honest I actually don't really understand the problem. What's the point of arguing about sharing releases, that are hardly available anywhere. Anyway, let's be fair, in many cases internet sharing only helps generating intrest on some forgotten albums that are still waiting for its buyers in some dusted stock.

Of course, I've had my doubts, downloading some fresh release, for example Dualers some time ago. On the other hand, in Poland, where I live, there are maybe just a few people, who even heard about this band. So what harm could it possibly do when after listening to the "pirate album" I introduce some new listener to it. New fan = possible income for the band.

All depends of point of view. This topic is far away from being black & white, but no matter what's someone's pesonal opinion, it's important to see all the shades of gray, instead of generalising that downloading music means only robbing the band and nothing more.

Hope You'll make Your decision soon, and whatever will it be, remember that some of us hare also for the text. Although, if You ask me, would be nice, if articles still were "illustrated" by some sound.

Greetings from Poland

gobshyte said...

i was just thinking about this.i was going to ask you what you would think about someone downloading your work but you seem resigned to the fact that its unstoppable.you seem like a genuine music fan who like myself has put thousands of your hard earned dollars/pounds etc back into supporting an art form you obviously love.i know a lot of blogs seem to be getting grief from record company people(if they are all genuine complaints which i doubt)and the response seems to be to go private.i think they collect e-mail addresses and then issue update emails when they post new music.ive downloaded music for free but unless its unavailable anymore would never use it as a substitute for the real thing.i like to have the cd/record in my hands,look at the artwork,read the lyrics etc.i think blogs like yours and others help to spread their creators knowledge and love for music and get people to listen to some great new tunes they might not otherwise ever hear.if a tune is no longer available should we buy it on e-bay and give our money to the guy selling it?isnt he just as guilty by reselling it with no money going to the artist?
anyway marco you seem like a good bloke so i would say if its the only way to go,then go private.
on another note are you guys ever going to do shows in london?im moving back there in 2 weeks and would love to go and see a good show.i would help with postering,selling merch etc.anyways marco i hope some of what ive written here makes sense.best of luck mate i hope you can continue posting somehow.let me know what you think.cheers

Jon said...

Obviously I've been the most vocal critic of your site, for me it is just unnecessary in your case. Your posts are interesting, enlightening, and informative. The links to youtube videos are great. I even appreciate your links to downloads of things like live concerts and demos which are unavailable commercially. That's all great and I support you fully in that. I'll even give leeway on things that are long out-of-print. The trick comes to the re-issue market and things currently out there. I think I took offense when I saw you posting things that Greensleeves reissued in the last year or two, mostly because via this wonderful new world of the internet I've gotten to know the names of the people involved in their releases, and the fact that they (Greensleeves) have had to change ownership multiple times over the last few years because they can no longer make any money in Reggae. Right now, the vast majority of Jamaican music of the last 30 years is under the umbrella of one company, VP. If VP goes under...then what? Sure most likely someone would swoop in (most likely whoever owns the Atlantic group) to cherry pick some of their bigger titles (the Shaggy and Sean Paul's), but then we'll be left with what Universal is doing with Trojan. Almost nothing, or re-releasing the same ol' (which again, of the three things Universal have done since they bought Trojan, you've already managed to pirate one). Or worse, it will end up like Pama/Jet Star. They went out of business last year. No one bought them, they just... closed. Gone.

So to sum up a long post... I like what you write, I just don't like the (I feel) unneeded promotion of stealing music people can buy.

Kevin said...

Your site has opened me up to more ska music than I ever found in the 80's. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have access to any of this great music.

If it's long out of print, I say share it. It's better to keep it alive than let it die. If the record companies think they are losing out, then they should re-release the music so that people like me can get access to it.

Bottom line, if it's in the market, I will buy it. If it's not, then set the music free.

Keep on keepin' on, Marco. You're doing good for the world of ska.

Anonymous said...

The music industry (especially the independent record companies) need to quit focusing on the way they want things to be and focus on the way things really are.
I started my blog because I outbid somebody on ebay for a rare ska vinyl. My thoughts were "fuck you you bastard you're not going to outbid me!" In the end I paid about $80 for it. But then I felt bad. Why was he a bastard because he wanted to hear some rare ska? I was lucky to have the income I had at the time to be able to outbid him but why does that mean he shouldn't be able to hear that record? Was I as bad as whomever owned the legal rights to that record and chose not to put it out? Nobody got my money in the end except for the guy who either copied the record to his hard drive and then sold it (like prostitution - you have it, you sell it, you still have it), or just had no interest in that music (anymore..?).

The people who start any type of indie label realize in the beginning a need to put out music but, after things get a bit lucrative, they become as tainted as they labels that weren't letting people hear the music in the first place. Then the cycle is repeated. Even in the ska underground things are pretty much starting to sound the same. It's starting to sound as if the powers that be are losing genuine interest.

It may be illegal, but I think it's actually important to let people hear the stuff that the labels have lost interest in. More important in fact.

For every website they have taken down another will pop up. There are ways they can use this to their advantage if they would pause for a second and listen to what the fans really want.

But they won't.

- Tone and Wave

Anonymous said...

The record labels that put out 3rd wave ska consumed most of my free income during that time of my life. I don't feel it is wrong, hell, the cd's that I have that survived are scratched all to hell. I'd like to be able to listen to, say "Smoke" from Magadog (featuring Coolie Ranx), but it skips in my player.

Argh matey.

Uffe said...

Well, it's a controversial subject.
I think it's OK to put unreleased (not new ) music and out of print stuff and live recordings that's not officially released. It's wonderful to be able to listen to for example the Beat Peel sesions.

Keep up the good work! Great reading!