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9/15/2004

"To mp3, or not to mp3. That is the question."

My mp3 blog manifesto:


Now that I've figured out how to post mp3s on this site (thanks Steve!) the question remains of whether or not I should.

There are many mp3 blogs in existence, the reasoning behind sharing the songs is to expose blog readers to new or obscure artists. It's like inviting friends over to your apartment, commandeering the stereo and forcing them to "listen to this!" and "oh, and this one!" Except this is 2004 and the internet is our living room and you can come and go as you please without offending the host. (A moment of silence, please, for the lost art of human interaction. In my defense, I do own a portable record player.)


The standard etiquette of posting mp3s on most blogs includes only posting 1 or 2 songs per artist for a 7 day period and immediately removing any song if the artist or label (finds out and) objects. While most blogs are received by relatively small audiences, the mp3 blog concept has managed to appear on the industry's radar. In this week's Newsweek there's a short article on mp3 blogs in which RIAA's Greg Larsen is quoted as saying:
"Owners of the copyright should get to decide how they want to promote their music."
Well, none of us is objecting to that statement. However, I think most artists welcome fan-to-fan, word-of-mouth promotion. Apparently some record labels think mp3 blogs are a good idea; Warner Bros. tried to persuade many bloggers to promote a new Secret Machines song for them last month. (Word is that most bloggers declined.)

From my sordid past working with many artists and a few record labels, my current position is that mp3 blogs are mostly a positive force in promoting artists and record sales. Look, I know how much it costs to make records, and I'm the first person to argue that music must be paid for and artists must be compensated. But I also know that I'm buying new records based on what I've heard on some mp3 blogs. A little birdie told me my blog has already indirectly led to a purchase of the new Finn Brothers record, which makes all this nonsense worthwhile to me.

I do see the downside of mp3 blogs too. When you've only got 5 or 10 songs on a record, having multiple unauthorized downloadable mp3s floating around is damaging. There's a fine line between giving it away in the name of promotion, and just giving it away. I found out about Arcade Fire from an mp3 blog, and after a few minutes of hunting around other mp3 blogs linked from the initial one, I'd gathered up a total of at least 6 free mp3s. If each blogger wants to post their own song, it can add up to screwing the artist over, real fast.

For now I'm going to post the occasional mp3 here, for the purpose of promoting artists I love. In the meantime, I'm going to investigate ways I can stream songs rather than making them available for download, because I think that's the best solution. If you like what you hear, then put your money where your ears are -- buy CDs, concert tickets, tshirts, merch, and whenever you can, buy directly from the artist. In the event that I overstep my bounds, I'm pretty sure my artist friends who read this will keep me in line.

Now let's see if I can't help sell another Finn Brothers CD:

Today's mp3: Finn Brothers "Anything Can Happen" -- The most hopeful, happy song I've heard in years. [BUY IT]

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