Eggy Ley´s Jazzmen, Joshua fit the Battle of Jericho, 1959Posted: August 2, 2012
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.
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…