Monday, 22 February 2010

Musicblogocide 2010

Google recently decided to close 6 popular MP3 music blogs due to copyright infringement. As the dust settles on this, I thought I'd chuck in my two pence worth:
I have received a few DMCA notifications from Blogger, here's part of one if you haven't had the pleasure:

"Blogger has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that certain content in your blog is alleged to infringe upon the copyrights of others. As a result, we have reset the post(s) to "draft" status. (If we did not do so, we would be subject to a claim of copyright infringement, regardless of its merits. The URL(s) of the allegedly infringing post(s) may be found at the end of this message.) This means your post - and any images, links or other content - is not gone. You may edit the post to remove the offending content and republish, at which point the post in question will be visible to your readers again.'

Wonderfully vague ain't it? My standard response has been to email back and enquire which part of the post they are specifically referring too (I often put up two or more songs in a post). Their standard response is to not reply & delete the post anyway.
In two and a half years of blogging I have received a dozen requests to take down tracks from labels & artists alike. It's normally all very polite & in some cases has lead to a lasting relationship with the artist or label.
As with many things in our modern world, common sense seems to have flown out the window. I thought we were way past the issue of blogs posting up MP3's. Over the last couple of years record labels have come round to the idea of music blogging & the promotional opportunities it can bring. Listen to Lauren Laverne's daytime 6 music show and they have a segment entitled MPfree where listeners can download a selected track. The NME music blog lets readers download new songs on a regular basis. Everyday I receive emails from major labels such as EMI, Huge Indies such as Rough Trade & Domino as well as many, many small indies, artists: anyone who makes music.
I don't write this through rose-tinted glasses (In fact, I'm not wearing glasses at all). Music blogs mirror the internet in many ways, they are unregulated & therefore open to abuse. There are many blogs doing absolutely sterling work & operate within these basic boundaries;

Only post up low quality (128KBPS) MP3's
Links to artists websites & links to stores where high quality MP3's can be purchased.
Features/interviews with said artist with links to tour dates.

There are many many blogs that don't follow this template, post up high quality MP3's. Post up tracks way ahead of release. Post up tracks without permission. One of the things that I can't understand about this whole episode is that we are all aware of blogs that post up full albums, even full back catalogues of bands/artists. On Blogger. If Google are going to delete music blogs, surely they should start with these ones first?
As an experiment I Googled an album receiving a lot of attention within the music blog community. Try it yourself. Google Beach House's 'Teen Dream'. In the first couple of pages you will find a blog that has the full album available for download. Bill Lipold's blog (I Rock Cleveland) only posted material that has been provided by record labels, artists or promo companies. Google deleted his blog. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense does it.

Nick Hornby recently wrote of his love for music blogs, you can view the full article here:

'It took me longer than it should have done to work out that the internet is one giant independent record shop – thousands and thousands of cute little independent record shops.' That is very much how i view music blogging. There are some absolutely awesome sites (Blogs). It is very much my first port of call in my quest for new & exotic tunes.'

He continues:' The MP3 blogs that stretch for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see, down that stretch of the net that isn't reserved for pornography, are staffed by enthusiastic and likable young men and women who absolutely don't want to rip the artists off: they are always careful to post links to iTunes and Amazon, and the songs they put on their sites are for sampling purposes only. (For the most part, they are encouraged to do so by the artists and their labels, who take out adverts on the more popular sites, and are clearly sending advance copies of albums to the bloggers.) It works for me. I listen, and then I buy what I like, because owning music is still important to me.'

That sums it up for me. If you find a music blog that has a similar taste to your own, untold riches await you. MP3 blogs are still are major source of inspiration for me, sites such as Alainfinkielkrautrock, 20jazzfunkgreats, Keytars & Violins, Lend Me Your Ears and Feel My Bicep are regular internet haunts of mine. For an example of a superbly written music blog look no further than Expletive Undeleted.
If Just Press Play disappears into the ether you'll know what's happened. Time to move to Wordpress, looks loads better for a start.
In the words of Rodney King 'Can't we all just get along?'


JL said...

No surprise, of course, but thanks for a smart, thoughtful piece!

Thanks too for the reminder about lo-res MP3s - I'm murking about with SoundCloud streams more & more these days, but wasn't always strict enough about file quality even when they were the only option...

Hope live JPP rocking along!


Julian / LMYE

Just Press Play said...

Oops- I knew I forgot somebody. Your definitely In the good guys category. Thanks for your kind comments.

expletive undeleted said...

I'm beginning to think posting mp3s might be more trouble than it's worth. Wordpress isn't Google but surely it can only be a matter of time before these pigs turn their attention to WP?

If blog visitors downloading mp3s led to interesting discussions about the music then it would be worth the risk, but as you probably know, that very rarely happens. I've got an old punk rock mp3 up that's been downloaded around 400 times - I don't think I've had a single comment about the tune itself.

Then again, I trawl through sites myself, downloading loads of stuff and then immediately forget where I got it from and so don't leave a comment. It's very easy to do that.

I don't have much else to contribute to the debate. The copyright police are ignorant and inconsistent - but I'd be surprised if they were any other way.

Back up your blog and think about moving over to WP. It would be a shame to lose Just Press Play.

And thanks very much for the mention ..

Just Press Play said...

@Undeleted It really shouldn't be this hard though, if Blogger had a more communicative stance then a lot of this nonsense could be avoided.

Good point about the lack of banter tho, I am guilty myself of downloading tracks and not leaving a comment. Is everyone in too much of a hurry these days?

Really need to jump over to Wordpress pronto. Would be good to meet up for a beer at some point, I'm based in the heart of Cholly these days.