The Ethics of This Stuff

I've been doing this blog for years and it has provided many of you with much good music. It is also something that I have enjoyed doing. When I started doing it, I struggled with the issue of posting music without compensating the artist. I rationalized my actions by not posting full releases, by (mostly) sticking with obscure and very difficult to find releases, by not running ads, by hosting the music myself and not through some scumbags like Megaupload, etc. But the fact is, these were rationalizations. Oh, sure there is the little disclaimer at the side stating all music is up here for educational purposes and that it will be removed by request - but, while not dishonest, that statement is born out of an urge to cover one's ass rather than any felt obligation to educate. And, while I have never had a complaint about Crud Crud from an artist or artist representative (in fact, I've gotten fan letters from artists I've posted), I have always felt a bit uncomfortable doing this.

Besides doing this blog, I also run a couple small record labels. Over the years, sales have gone from pretty damn good to not very damn good, almost pretty damn bad. Meanwhile, the music I put out has gotten more and more popular. Many people listen to it, but they don't pay for it. One of the Nothing People found a torrent site that tracked the number of times a file had been downloaded. He looked up their (then) most recent album Soft Crash and found that it had been downloaded 40,000 times. How many of those people listened to it is unknown, perhaps half of the downloaders are hoarders. But let's say half of the people who downloaded it listened to it, that an audience of 20,000 got the album for free. Now consider how many copies of Soft Crash my label sold. I pressed 1000 copies on vinyl. The band was compensated with 200 copies. About 50 copies were sent out as promos to radio stations, magazines, and blogs. Of the 750 remaining copy, I have sold 650. I will assume that the Nothing People held on to 50 copies and sold the rest. So that is a grand total of 800 copies of Soft Crash sold vs at least 20,000 downloaded off one torrent site and listened to. The 800 copies that the Nothing People and I sold were paid for. The 20,000 "copies" off of that torrent site were not. I've know about this for a few years and it still bugs the shit out of me. However, I have still done this blog. 
About a week ago a young intern at NPR wrote a piece stating that she had 11,000 songs in her computer but only had bought 15 cds ever. She felt a little guilty but what she was doing was to convenient to change. David Lowery of the bands Cracker & Camper Van Beethoven wrote a very passionate, well-thought-out and informative response, which I urge you to read. It is long but you will learn a lot about how music and the internet works these days and what "artists" like myself are up against. (The link to the initial NPR piece is in the first paragraph of Lowery's letter). 

Knowing that since the beginning of this blog, I've danced around the issues addressed by Lowery, that I've complained about regarding the Soft Crash album, I can no longer continue doing Crud Crud as I have been doing it. I mean, technically I could, but to do so would make me more of a hypocrite than I already am and that is something I do not want to be. So, until I can figure how to do Crud Crud in a way that I find is honest and ethical (such as getting permission to post things, recording music/sounds out in the wild, using music which I own the rights to, etc.), this thing will be on hiatus (hiatus not retirement). 

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