Eggy Ley´s Jazzmen, Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho, 1959

One of the first music blogs that I read before I started Berlin Beatet Bestes in 2007, was Scott Soriano´s Crud Crud. It is  still one of the best written record collector´s blogs with the most carefully chosen music from a very broad spectrum. In his last post Scott announced that he was putting his blog on hiatus. He wrote that it did not feel right anymore to distribute other people´s creative property for free, while operating  record labels and trying to sell music at the same time. I have thought a lot about what he wrote in that article and it touches on some things I have also been writing about here and elsewhere.  I agree that legally there is no difference between “good” and “bad” MP3 blogs. Whether the MP3s you offer for download are from ripped CDs of currently active bands or digitized from some forgotten, out of print 45s, is the same. As long as you do not own the copyright of that material, distributing it is illegal. When I´m offering it for download, I´m in the same boat with anybody else who shares files on the Internet.

Here´s where I disagree:

I think the trouble is with the digital itself. If you would want to sell counterfeit copies of, let´s say, Addidas sneakers, you have to use a lot of criminal energy. You have to get a designer that copies the design, a company that will secretly produce the shoes and a underground distribution system to sell them.  Now that takes a lot of  money and effort and is clearly criminal. Even old style record bootleggers, who sold blues and rockabilly comps or live recordings of the Rolling Stones, still had to do the work of pressing LPs and printing sleeves. Now, who´s fault is it, that those awful CD bloggers today, don´t have to go out and actually copy any real articles? Who made it so easy for them to do their “business” with a couple of mouse clicks? And who made it so easy for me to go into a thrift store, pick a record,  pay for it, go home, scan the sleeve, cut and size it with Photoshop, put the record on my turntable, digitize the music, scan some more images from my vintage magazine or book collection that relate to the record, do some research from the same material and the Internet and then do my best to write something useful about the artist and the music?   No wait… actually that is not soo easy!  My girlfriend always says, it´s so much work and takes so much time, that I should be paid for it.

Anyway,  it was the dominant electronics industry that created this mess. They pushed the technology for digital file sharing. And then in 2001 everyone wanted an Ipod.  Suddenly the record industry was facing dwindling CD sales. Next all the proud, one hundred year old, phonograph industry could do was trying to sell digital files. Many people´s reactions to that were only natural: they didn´t want to pay for something that is so easily reproducible. If you can get a whole “record collection” worth of MP3s  from the hard drive of a friend, why buy anything?

But here´s my point:

1. People that download music from the Internet are not fans, no matter what they say. Even in the 80s, when vinyl was the popular medium, some people went through their punk phase on a bunch of mix tapes they got from a friend. They were not real fans of the music either. If you´re a fanatic you want to support the people who made that music that you supposedly love so much. Buying some MP3s on Itunes for your Ipod should not be enough to satisfy that passion. Buying music should not be like a donation for a good cause, to make you feel like you´re a better person. Or like buying organic food. Buying music should be cool. Records are cool. Real music fans need the real article and the biggest article is still a vinyl record!  Real fans will always want to buy some real product to show their dedication. They need that record!

2. Digital is worthless. As abstract as the music itself. No wonder nobody wants to pay for it. People pay for material. Everything we use , food , clothes, furniture, is still real material.  We all love and need objects. There´s no reason why one of the most precious things in our lives, music, should be without an object.  That said, my girlfriend would love the space that we would have, if all those shelves full of records in my room would suddenly disappear. But she´s not a music fan, she´s a book lover. Her room is full of book shelves!

3. My blog is a service. I do the work of presenting records for the first time in digitized form. I´m not hurting anyone’s business. I choose the material for this blog very carefully. Most of it is not commercially viable. If I would not post it here, it would sit in a box in a Berlin thrift store forever. I don´t care for the MP3s that I create and post on this blog. They´re worthless. I care for records. And so should you.

So:

If you call yourself a music fan: buy a record player. Go into a record store and buy records. If you´re a DJ and you´re DJing with MP3s or your Spotify playlist on your Iphone,  I think you should be ashamed of yourself. Buy a record player. Go into a record store and buy records. If you are a musician or in the music business and are trying to sell Mp3s. Good luck!

Finally, the record. Another one of Eggy Ley´s outings on the German Tip Top flexi-disc label. These two songs have never been re-released and are not likely to be in the future. As great as it is, British retro-dixieland jazz from the 1950s is not exactly in high demand today, even after all this time. New Orleans style jazz from the 20s still is. The record is also in a very bad condition. But it´s the only copy I´ve got and it will have to do, while I´ll wait until another copy comes my way.

Download this and listen to the glorious crackling mono sound on your Iphone if you really need to…

Eggy Ley´s Jazzmen, Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho, 1959

Eggy Ley´s Jazzmen, When The Saints Go Marching In, 1959

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14 Comments on “Eggy Ley´s Jazzmen, Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho, 1959”

  1. John says:

    Excellent post, Andreas, and very true. There’s nothing as thrilling as getting a package in the mail from overseas with a 45-rpm single inside!

    By the way, thanks to you the band will soon be incorporating a version of Le Climb into our set list.

    Viele Grüße,

    John

  2. mischalke04 says:

    Thank you. I was pretty sure I drove even the last people away with this post. Glad you liked Le Climb.

  3. richard says:

    you are right, but who am I supporting , when I order a used rare 7” over the internet. probably a commercial record-seller whom I do not want to sell cheap music at highest price. loving old vinyls etc , I do love them, and search for them. I search downloads as the next best thing. Globalgroovers is again confronted with a media-fire block. He had such nice things,so before I buy a congolese record I know what I pay for, thanks to the illegal download.
    how do you know if a rerelease sounds better or flatter if you have nothing to compare. distributing the old stuff in a passionate way, makes sure that a rerelease for (not for the family of the long-dead musicians) some recordcompany is a quality challenge

  4. ëRiC says:

    He Andreas!
    Very strong view of things there! Nice to read you so passionate about it!

    honestly: I’ve been a DJ all my youth and I was always very passionate about (electronic music in this case) vinyl as well. Much because of other interests there was not SO much time to dig through recordstores and I just raised a collection of about .. 700? 12inces. Still a lot of stuff already and probably more than a usual music fan would collect.
    But I actually stopped buying records! And I’m quite of the opposite opinion by the time now!

    I remember how I carried around a 100 record cube around for gigs. How I had bruises on the hips and sore arms :D Sometimes you had a fat whitelabel test press just because of a small part of a track. Or a whole album because of 1 or 2 songs.. And now I have that stuff standing in my flat in Berlin where I already moved away..

    So I got myself a Traktor Scratch Pro and started to digitize too. And the first times I played the MP3s of some really precious songs I felt … that feeling of like I really take something of that valuably vinyl. You know: Each time you play a record you destroy it a little. But this time I was on the save side! :D

    Now when I collect digital music. Yes I don’t have a physical representation of it! And I don’t think its necessary anymore. Of course you can have Terrabytes of music and have never listened to 99% of the songs.. But it can happen to vinyls in a similar way when a full crate is sold for 10€ .. it sometimes ends up in the attic!

    I for my part feel passionate about SONGS about Music no matter what medium! If its not live: Its canned either way. ( Sure: I’d like to get rid of most of my records for the digital version but some of them: I’d probably never give away! But in general I’m not passionate about that physical posessions the same way I don’t care for cars, big house or bling bling.. )
    When on the dancefloor it finally comes out of the speakers and makes some body move is it really important anymore?

    I think I take the same time and thought into setting up a digital set like I used to do it with vinyls. And thats what really counts for me! But: I’m glad that I don’t have to carry that much, glad that I can search with a couple keystrokes, place tags and even share songs in the middle of the night to play them right away!!
    And after all I’m quite glad that less energy and resources were wasted on transporting the music.

    Oldschool vinyl has its place for sure! Its simply part of the story! And I myself propelled that story long after people told it to be dead already!! :D (I skipped CDs completely)
    But for me its really ok to let go. I have SO much stuff in my life. Physical stuff as well like those records too. And I’d really rather have LESS of it!! ( had to remember george carlin here ;] http://youtu.be/MvgN5gCuLac )

    Well… sure: This digital distribution opens other ways to abuse of it all. On one hand its easier to get music without crediting the artists or music companies and to pile up unusable redundand heaps of digital rubbish..
    But on the other: Artists can now bring music to the people more directly, get funded directly too! (e.g. bandcamp.com – “name your price”) or simply ask for donations and get money without having an “evil inhuman megacoorperation” inbetween.. ;]

    And I really like to pay for the digital song only! (Less stuff!) And I’d love to pay you too for doing this here! No Shit: Why not have a flattr button or paypal donate?

    Finally cool songs of Eggy Ley´s Jazzmen! Thanks a lot!

    Pardon me for long reply. But I find it really interesting that we have a kind of opposite situation here. Hope you don’t hate me now :]
    sincerely cheers:
    ëRiC

  5. mischalke04 says:

    Quite the opposite. Thanks Eric, for putting things in perspective. Most people I know dj with Mp3s and of course it has its advantages. After all, like you wrote: the songs and the music are what is important. Much of my one-sided attitude towards the digital world comes from a feeling of alienation and being confused by this downloading dilemma. And also my strange, deep-rooted fetishism with objects. My girlfriend really hates my collecting habit and continually urges me get rid of stuff. I admit it is a burden sometimes, to keep the piles in our appartement organized, but as I see it, that is part of being a fanatic. The objects are a physical representatin of that passion. Objects create comfort. An appartement with no furniture, pictures or books, is a jail cell. To me MP3s are like “The Emperor´s New Clothes”. It feels like some crooks have convinced everyone to buy a new, much more advanced format, whose merits can only be seen by intelligent people. And now everybody pretends it´s cool, because they don’t want to look stupid. And I´m the naive child in the crowd who shouts:”We´re all naked!”

    Nobody knows how to solve the problem of “illegal” downloads and of course saying: “buy vinyl” is not a realistic solution. It´s not possible to turn back the hands of time. But sometimes I wonder what would happen, if artists refused to publish digital files. If all they produced was vinyl, or some other format that is not as easily reproducible. It would only take a little more effort to digitize it and it would not prevent people from distributing it illegally. But it would also tell everyone: this is my object that I offer you and want you to buy. Instead of offering a “product” that is invisible.

  6. mischalke04 says:

    Dear Richard,

    those are exactely the reasons why I´ve been doing this blog for the past five years and will continue to do. I still enjoy putting material from the real world into the digital world. If I´m the first one to do it, it feels like exploring new territory. It´s only a small territory on a tiny island, but at least I put it on the map. The map is the Internet and Google is the travel agency. And through that travel agency any visitor can now come to my little blog. But… suddenly these visitors create problems:

    1. I´m helping to create a fantasy market. It bugs me when I see a flexi-disc that is worth 50 cents and that I posted on the Internet for the very first time, is now being offered on Ebay for 20 euros. Just because I put it on this blog, some sellers found it here and now they think there must be a market. Luckily they mostly don´t sell. I still buy interesting records for 50 cents every week.

    2. I´m helping to create laziness. My intention with Berlin Beatet Bestes has always been to communicate that anybody can dig for records. It´s not rocket science. It´s very easy. You go into a thrift store and buy a record. I´ve found records in thrift stores all over the world. And you don´t have to go to the Congo to find interesting records either. They´re right there in your local neighborhood, whether you live in Berlin or Bagdad. But instead of incouraging people to go out and find something themselves, they come here! My blog is their thrift store!

    But I guess in the end, that´s the fate of the explorer. You never know, if that stone you turned was better to be left alone.

  7. Mr_Miff says:

    I am a music fan and I can’t effort records or cds. Almost all money I made, I made in the record business.
    I am a music fan – I get to really know the records I have from a better time, know my way waround the tracks. The best stuff I try to learn to play.
    I am a music fan. If sites like this would have been around in 1973 would Bear Family have ever get started? Over saturated music fans don’t buy even if they could. They’re too busy listening once to each of their downloads.
    I don’t think your service is an exception. No, I really don’t see how.

  8. mischalke04 says:

    Finally somebody disagrees! I know you´re a music fan. But the record business is dying. CD sales continue to go down and I bet, in a couple of years they will be gone completely. I know that it would be more decent to wait until after the funeral, but Bear Family Records, or any other label, never got around to re-release Eggy Ley´s music in fifty years, so why shouldn´t I now? Can an MP3 actually considered to be a re-release? If it is, is my blog a label then? What is an MP3?

  9. michaelvee says:

    Hi Andreas, here’s one more who disagrees (and it’s a good friend of yours, too). Perfectly correct Mr. Miff who states that MONEY – be you a fan or not – is playing its part and has always played it (I know so many punks who lived on cassettes in the 70s simply because they couldn’t AFFORD records). Moreover, cassettes were perfect to fight against an industry never aiming to quality but to maximize profits (remember Malcom and M30-M60-M90… GO?). The truth is, if you buy records eventually you support the industry, not so much the artists (go ask them about their contracts….) (Forges says The Grateful Dead – who always supported bootlegs – are amongst the richest artists of the whole business). Free download-services have forced industry to improve its products (packaging, booklets….) and is the most DEMOCRATIC tool I can think of (and I don’t mean blogs posting compilations made by FANS who have spend much energy and passion on it). Finally, I disagree with ” .. go to your record-shop!” (but WHERE if even in an “international city” like mine there’s only dump-yards like VIRGIN or FNAC?) and “… buy a record!” (maybe a high prized re-edition in heavy vinyl, conceived for FETISHISTS, not for real fans). Pop will eat itself, I can’t wait for it, and music created for mass-consumtion will finally end where it has to: in oblivion! Long live BBB, and long live 60s (mostly ) Uncomped!

  10. mischalke04 says:

    Hi Michael,

    I was hoping you would respond to my article. You say: Death to mass consumption.Long live the blogs. Others, like Mr. Miff, say: Death to illegal downloads. Long live the industry. Interestingly, both of you say: I don´t have money for records.

    I don´t know what to say. I´m somewhere in the middle. I love records and without some sort of “industry” there would be no records. My blog would not exist either. Excellent labels like Bear Family Records, Rhino, Sundazed and even Norton Records are part of that same record industry. They do a fantastic job at digging up, remastering and reissuing lost music. They´re my heroes. Why should I want to see them gone?

    One thing I know, is that I´m deeply confused by the whole digital world and all the people that seem to feel so comfortable in it. I wished listening to music was simple again. Like, if suddenly the power went out for enough time to send us way back in time like in “Escape from L.A.”. Without electricity I would still be able to play some records on my battery-run record player for a few years, while all the other people would be crying into their dead Ipods, Ipads, cellphones and all these other stupid devices that I will never want to own. Until they would pick up instruments and play live music again.

    Then I would be happy….

  11. Crud Crud says:

    Hi Andreas – Scott Soriano here. I understand where you are coming from but there are two things that I very much disagree with.

    The first thing I take issue with is your contention that “it was the dominant electronics industry that created this mess.” Perhaps, the electronic industry created the means to digitize and upload/download media, but they did not force people to ignore compensating musicians or songwriters. Technology exists but we are not slaves to it. Technology might allow us to do something easily but it does not guide us to do so. In other words, a gun might make killing simpler than strangulation, but the gun didn’t create an impulse to murder any more than one’s hands do.

    If technology isn’t the cause, who is? The greedy record companies and the music industry? Again, through their greed & corruption (specifically the price fixing and artificial high prices of CDs) and their insane overreaction to the early days of file-sharing (when they should have been figuring out a way to market music cheaply instead of wishing for maximum coin and taking 18 year olds to court), the music industry might have created a climate where people could express their hatred for the industry by file-sharing, but, again, they did not coerce anyone to engage in freeloading and did not force people to ignore musicians or songwriters.

    Those responsible for “this mess” are those engaging in the action of freeloading, whether it is you or me doing our blogs or our followers downloading material. Before I go on, I should explain what I mean by “this mess.” To me, “this mess” is an atmosphere where the people who create music – musicians and songwriters – are not compensated for their creativity or their labor. Additionally, I think it is wrong that people have so little respect for the artist that they make no attempt to seek him or her or them out and ask them if they mind that their music is used. (A couple things here: First, doing Crud Crud, I have been contacted by artists responsible for some of the songs I’ve posted. Every one of them have been gracious. I have no doubt that if I had attempted to contact them and asked for permission to post their work, they would have said “yes.” Second, in my experience with my record labels, tracking down artists is not very difficult, especially not with google and facebook. Of course, this does not apply to dead people!) The issue is two-fold but related: Compensation for an artist’s labor and respect for his/her work.

    Respect is a simple issue of courtesy, as far as I am concerned. Compensation is one of labor. Making music takes time, it takes work, and it take resources. Recording music is laborious and good recordings cost money (whether you invest in the recording technology or you go to a studio). Making music might be something people love to do, but it is also work, and those who chose to do it for a living should be able to make a living at it if the demand for their music is there. The situation is akin to cooking for the enjoyment of it or in order to make a living. If you are lucky, you the eater has a friend who can cook well and you get to eat for free. Or perhaps you bring the food and he cooks it for you. Or maybe you go to a restaurant and have someone cook for you. Do you leave without paying or do you pay the cook for the food he made? “But food should be free,” you say. And I don’t agree, but the person who cooks it for you should do it of their free will or be paid to do it! Otherwise, you should cook it yourself or eat your meat raw.

    Please note that I did not mention record labels or the music industry in my rant about labor or respect. Record labels – good or bad, honest or dishonest, indie or major – act as an agent for the artist. In some cases they treat the artist well, in other cases they screw the artist. But that is an arrangement between the artist and the label. The label might create a physical product (record or CD), finance the recording or an artist’s tour, etc. but it is the artist that creates the work, i.e. the music. Record labels could disappear tomorrow and the artist would still be feel the effect of “this mess.” Yes, “digital” might be worthless, but music is not. Digital is the technology, but music is the “product.”

    Now, I appreciate that you take care in choosing the music you post. I did as well. And, while I do not agree that we are not “taking business away” from the artist (it is something that is impossible to gauge), I think that the interest our blogs generate is minimum, especially compared to torrent and filesharing sites. I do believe that we are more like curators than pirates. That said, we also create cover for pirates. We provide the philosophical excuse for others to steal en mass. It is not “digital” or “technology” that has created “this mess,” but you and me. We put the bullet in the chamber and encourage others to pull the trigger. We are responsible.

    So, what to do about “this mess”? I’ve thought about it for months and I have come up with something that satisfies me. First is I will make every attempt to seek out and obtain permission from an artist. If I have established that they are dead or anonymous or impossible to track down (for instance, their material appeared on a state-run label of the USSR or pre-dictatorial Burma), I think it is fair to present their work. I also believe in “public domain.” Current laws regarding copyright are said to be weighted toward the artist, but they are not. They are weighted toward the rights holder, which in many cases is not the artist. That isn’t just song publishing but the recording of a song. Finding out who owns what takes some work but it can be done. However, for me what is important is finding out when the work was created. I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect a work to go into public domain after a set amount of years after the creation of the work. In the US a work is under copyright until 95 years after the creators death! That was used to protect Mickey Mouse from going into the public domain. I think the US law is against the public’s interest. Italian copyright law protects a work for 50 years after it’s creation and then it goes into public domain. So anything made before September 13, 1962 is fair game. Since I am officially both an American and an Italian citizen, I’ll go with the Italians on this one…to a point. If the artist has died or remains unknown or impossible to contact (see USSR/Burma example), to me the work is public domain.

    So between the 50 year rule, my death/anon. stipulation, and obtaining permission from an artist, I figure that I would have had no problem using that guideline since day one of Crud Crud and publishing at least 90% of what I have posted. This is what I will do going forward. The difference between how I will do it now and how I was doing it is that I now have a stated ethic. I am not pretending that there is no “mess” or that I am outside the mess because I have good intentions. No, I want my actions to be conscious. I want to give the artist the respect that they deserve. After all, if I am truly a fan of music, I must treat the musician with respect…and in the case that they ask to be paid for their music, if I want to use it, I will pay them or not use it. As a listener, I’ll either buy my music or go to blogs or sites (like WFMU’s Free Music Archive) who go by a similar ethic. I think this is a small step toward maybe some day doing away with “this mess.” I invite you to do the same.

    Best regards
    Scott Soriano
    Crud Crud/S.S. Records/Sol Re Sol Records

  12. mischalke04 says:

    Dear Scott,

    Thanks for your detailed reply to my confused angry mumblings. Amen to everything you wrote. Especially the reasoning that: “We provide the philosophical excuse for others to steal en mass.” Resonates with me completely. It always did felt odd to spread material without seeking permission first. I have also been contacted by a lot of artists or their relatives after I posted their music. In five years not one has complained.

    Nevertheless this whole digital/downloading mess has seriously damaged my simple love for the music. Therefore I will follow your invitation to seek permission first. Out of fairness and even greater curiosity.

    Let´s see where that road will take me…

    Best wishes
    Andreas

    yea… this also means that this blog will be officially dead soon. I never meant this to be a permanent download archive anyway. Like I always said: I don´t give a fuck about MP3s. I´ve got the records. Right now I´m in Athens, Greece but I will be back in Berlin next week.
    If anyone wants to download some of the music on this site, do it now. Next week it´s all gone.

  13. Crud Crud says:

    Hello Andreas –

    In a way, I think killing off your blog, my blog or similar blogs is not the way to go (unless you are sick of doing it); but rather to stick to the ethic. I figure our blogs are the kind done by informed music lovers who care about the music enough to actually write about it. We do not simply post songs or albums. I really feel that we actually do serve a purpose other than giving pirates cover and by adopting the ethic that I suggest and being up front about it, we no longer give cover to people who give no thought about what they do or, worse, use others’ music as content in order to generate money for themselves (through ads or paypal donations). If we disappear, all there will be are pirates and profiteers.

    As I wrote, I have been contacted by many artists or their relatives, and I, too, have received no complaints. In fact, I have had one post lead to me reissuing a record. Others have resulted in the artist sending me unreleased stuff to listen to (and post if I want). That good word and will does not justify not seeking out permission, but it does tell me that contact the artist might not just result in a “Yes,” but in uncovering the back story to a song, unreleased and forgotten material, and/or a relationship with the artist – all which would make for better blogs.

    best
    SS

    PS To avoid being a download archive, I’ve always taken down the MP3 I host after two or three weeks. People complain and write me demanding that I repost songs, but they can fuck themselves…or seek out the god damn record.

  14. mischalke04 says:

    Hi Scott,

    I will not be killing my blog but just the MP3s. Unfortunately a music blog without music is still pretty much dead. Nonetheless, I´m far from being sick of this blog and I will continue to do it. It will just take some more time and effort to go by the ethics before I can post music again. It will take me on a whole new journey and I´m excited to go.

    Some of the practical consequences of that route are still unclear to me though. My favorite records that I posted so far are private and budget releases.Finding some traces of people who initially privately released their own material should be a little easier. I suspect that they also hold the rights to their material. Tracing and contacting them will be a pleasure.

    Budget releases should be more difficult. First I will have to give GEMA or BIEM a little money to release the material because they hold the copyrights, but I´m confident they don´t know anything about the true identities of the anonymous artists or the story of the defunct labels. It´s just some dead data buried deep down in their archive. None of the anonymous artists will see any money from them. But that´s just the first step. The true detective work will begin with gathering all information from books, archives, other collectors and contacting people who were close to the artists. Solving some of those puzzles would be really cool.

    When I´m back I hope the blog will indeed be better.

    Best wishes
    Andreas


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