Re: [idm] Life After SoulSeek

A comment on P2P music swapping

A little rant I wrote under my pseudonym [muffin(at)signmytits(dot)com] to the IDM mailing list [ http://music.hyperreal.org/lists/idm/ ] after people posting about the death of soulseek [after an artist rightly objected to her music being distributed without her permission]. It's not that I'm anti soulseek it's just that I think it's open to abuse and if music publishing is to embrace the net it needs to do in a more co-operative way.

Double edged sword innit. If labels believed that people weren't going to rip off their music if they put it up as MP3s then they would. [well, the numerous independent labels I work with would]. Unfortunately that's not the case. MP3=piracy is a stigma which exists and which concerns a lot of labels and artists.

This is niche music we are talking about, not Pop. We should be trying to encourage it to behave in a better way, rather than getting caught up in the politics of major labels. Fuck thinking that way.

When you buy a CD, rip it, and return it it costs the label money. Ever think of that? Most record stores don't re-stock them [if they are of a decent calibre] instead it is returned to the label and disposed of. After a certain number of returns [allowed for faulty goods] they are no longer written of, and so the label has paid for manufacturing and distribution on an item it's not made any money on.

I'm all for previewing of music [I've done a lot of work with labels encouraging it] but if a label [such as Warp or Ninja Tune] provides 2 minutes of RealAudio of 1/3 of the tracks on their releases then why do you need to get MP3 versions to 'preview' it?

Encourage the labels to provide previews in a more accessible format. Then, if you are honest, you don't need soulseek for 'previews'.

I know I'm going over old ground, but all that happens with MP3 trading is that you piss off the people who are genuinely trying to get new, interesting music out into the world. There is always going to be a balance between those who feel they can give away what they produce, and those who want to make money with it. If you have a problem with this why do you think it is fair to take control of their decisions into your own hands.

How do I hear new music : I listen to Radio, go and hang out in shops, go to clubs and ask DJ's what tracks are, and have friends into the same music. It works pretty well for me as I'm not a totally compulsive record buyer any more. It seems like there are a lot of kleptomaniacs on this list.

I know the argument that the album format is dead, and I concur. I don't like spending £14 on a CD which has 4 tracks I want on it. But I make a value judgement and think "Hell, not everything I do is perfect, but I still get paid for it". Are all of you 100% grade students or something? If those 4 tracks are 90% good, and the other 6 are 40% good that gives me an average of [fuck, maths, ugh (90*4 + 40*6)/10] 60% good. Which is a pass in most books.

I mean, what gives you the right to think that you 'deserve' music. As BOC said "Music has the right to children". Children can only be brought up with the right nurturing environment. Spoil a child and it grows up greedy [like the major labels], but don't give it enough and it won't achieve anything. There is balance in between.

And no, I'm not a proponent of Copyright, or the pricing policies that record labels have. I believe in the creative commons [ http://www.creativecommons.org for those who don't know about it, check out the flash animation, it's really nice and enlightening ]. I'm about to try releasing my own software works in a new form, which should enable a lot of the things to happen that I want.

I'm actively trying to change the way it works, for small independent labels because I know how hard it can be for them to survive. These are marketplaces where 100 sales make a big difference, and where manufacturing limited runs is only practical because of cashflow, because the major players have been on the playing field for a long time and they've mashed it up so it's all uneven and slippy for the smaller labels to get used to playing on it. All that things like soulseek are doing is making the divide bigger, and making it harder for new small labels to survive.

I mean, who's going to contemplate giving their lives to promoting new interesting music if they can't afford to eat?

I'd like to look upon soulseek as the new radio, something where people do use it to find out about new music and then go off and buy those releases, but experience has shown that record sales for the labels that soulseek tries to support have gone down. There are many many many reasons for this, and P2P software may make an easy target, but to say it has not effect is stupid. It has an effect, and we can't tell accurately what that is. What is assured is that none of the money that is contributed by people for the software makes it back to the artists who produce the majority of the music downloaded on it. Is this fair?

If you are tech savy enough to know how to rip audio and stuff maybe we can all do this ourselves. Maybe we should each approach a record label we know and say "Hey, if you give me your CD's I will encode the first 2 minutes of half of the tracks an put them up on a web page for you, so people can preview them, and direct them towards you for sales." It wouldn't take much of your time, and you'd get the CD's in exchange for doing something for the label.

Fuck it, I'll even build a CMS to manage the upload of this audio if you enough of you can get on board. I've got half of it in place already. A web orientated contributed musical resource for the promotion of new music. That's what soulseek should be about, but because it doesn't involve the labels actively it's not favoured. It can then be P2P'd across servers on the internet to provide a resource, but kept out of people pockets so the labels don't think of it as 'giving away' there music.

There's an angle in this somewhere.

Troll over. Not that I want a fight.

published 2003.02.08 updated 2017.06.26
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