A Confession

I have a small confession to make, and I guess now is as good a time as any to get it over with…

Since I first started radio, back in 1998, I have been very interested in recording all my shows. Even though I have encountered more than my fair share of setbacks in doing so– equipment failure, power outages, hard disks crashing, tapes breaking, CDR media errors, streaming broadcasts going down– I have still managed to amass a sizeable archive of broadcasts.

Just as I have been driven to document my broadcasts, I have also been similarly determined to share them. My reasons have been many– first of all, I truly enjoy sharing music with others. I am fascinated by the history of music, at the macroscopic level where gospel and blues become funk; but also with the minutiae– just how many records does Thurston Moore have?– and at some level, I hope that others will become similarly involved when they see the enthusiasm I have for music.

I also have a firm belief that music (and although I have not given it as much thought, quite possibly all art) should be free. Although I fully support labels and artists selling their music, I also see that there are many people who cannot afford such purchases– and thus, culture becomes an extravagance. In my gut, I know that things like art are our birthright as humans, and it disturbs me to see anyone left out. Ironically, while it has been extremely rare for me to find a greedy artist or label in the experimental music community, the common perception that the avant-garde is comprised of individuals toiling in an obscure ivory tower persists.  Something isn’t right, but it is difficult to say exactly what.

As a DJ, I know that a portion of what I do is simply advertising. There is no way of getting around the fact that radio exposure helps sales of an album– either directly, such as when someone likes what they hear and order the album; or indirectly, like when increased exposure to an artist’s name will influence someone to purchase their album when faced with other less-familiar choices. Sharing recordings of my shows is a furthering of this exposure. While it cannot hope to replace the quality, quantity, or ease of availability that even the smallest labels can offer; it is ideal for the casual listener who missed a broadcast, or is unable to tune in due to distance or time.

But on the other hand, I also know that my broadcasts are a type of art in themselves. My selections of music, my ideas, conversations, mixing, and blending are all part of what not only makes my show unique, but an art form as well. I think of my shows are being individual works in a larger “gallery” or “arc” that is “It’s Too Damn Early” on the whole. In this light, it makes sense for me to want to share them. Haven’t I contributed as well?

This brings me to my confession: I share recordings of my shows. Okay, its not so big as a double homicide or anything, but its certainly on shaky legal ground. I share them with people who ask, with artists who want to hear their song when it got played on air, and with folks who want to know what experimental music sounds like.

I’ve been wanting to tell people openly about this for a long time, but wondered how it would go over– because I truly understand both sides– and I hope that artists and labels believe that I’m doing it as a service not only to the experimental music community, but for ordinary folks as well.

At present, I’ve been recording complete shows as a single mp3 file from our 64kbps stream– hardly a high-quality file, but certainly good enough to get an idea of what’s being played. I’m even sharing one in my last blog entry, through the free file-sending service Senduit, sort of a junior cousin to the more complex, login-hungry YouSendIt.

Finally, while I always appreciate comments to my blog entries, I’m asking for them this time. What are your thoughts about me sharing these shows? What are your thoughts about file-sharing in general? Do you share music too? –DaveX

2 Responses to “A Confession”

  1. Daniel Thompson Says:

    I pretty much agree with your thoughts on this. I’m not knowledgeable enough to comment on the legal implications, but I agree that culture should not become an extravagance. I believe that the society has a responsibility towards its artists and that artists have a responsibility towards society. We have moved past the time when artists could simply make music and charge extravagant prices for it. File sharing is a reality. I hope that more consumers will be willing to show financial support for worthy artists and that more artists will recognise their cultural debt to society and be more willing to freely share their work. Thanks for the download! Maybe it will prompt me to buy an album.

  2. phil hargreaves Says:

    Now that i’ve given up attempting to sell musical artefacts, i’ve found it enormously liberating – i’m free to pass copies to whomsoever i choose, and i don’t have to engage with the sales apparatus, leaving me free to concentrate on music, which, is let’s face it, a considerable field of study in its own right. If i could envisage a future where recordings are *not* the main source of an artist’s income, then i think that would be an improvement over the current situation, as income from sales ampilifies the inequalities, paying popular artists vast sums, and leaving many others on the breadline. It also leaves the accountants in charge, which is never a good thing.

    Is the industry worried about file sharing? I doubt it – people have been sharing music since the invention of the cassette tape, without bringing the music industry to its knees. Are they worried that in future artists will communicate directly with their audiences and have no need of record companies? Yes, absolutely terrified.

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