Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Paradigm Shift

This post will be a bit more self-disclosing than usual (this may go through a few edits). Comments and feedback are encouraged.

I posted one of my favorite recent releases, Dusk (Versions) by Coppice Halifax, a few days ago. I decided to post more than just that release alone, something of a Dusk Complete version, as I am wont to do, and went ahead and ordered the Endless Dusk release from Bandcamp to do this.

In hindsight I was pushing the envelope a bit more than usual, thinking somehow that at least I'm providing some support for the artist and not giving away the entire Endless Dusk release, just those tracks with "Dusk" in the title. Imagine my surprise that within hours I received correspondence from Brian Grainger, the artist who operates as Coppice Halifax (among other names, as is often the case with electronic musicians).

He was, surprisingly, not requesting that I remove the links. He proceeded to share with me that this release was not yet available digitally and was not freely available on the web and as such retains a special place for him. I could sense the (understandable) frustration with the extremes that the "free market" economy has generated yet I sensed an almost philosophical resignation that only comes with a well thought out understanding of reality. What he requested was that I provide a link to the page where people could still purchase a copy of the release.

I proceeded to remove the links as I always do if contacted by an artist/copyright holder (unless it is a completely inane request). It is not my music; I have no right to justify not removing it. But he was so philosophical, so passionate, I had to respond to him.

Here's what I wrote:

Thank you for contacting me.  It's always a combination of thrill and a reality check when an artist contacts me about something on my blog.  Your words touched me and, contrary how some may feel, I really do care that you rely on your music for income.  My daughter is a singer and has had some success locally so to a small degree I understand the challenge of being able to sustain yourself doing something you truly love.  

I am a music fan (my wife thinks it may be an addiction) and the intent of the blog is not to just give anything and everything away for free but to try and generate interest and income for artists and their works.  From communications with folks who follow my blog (some of whom are musicians themselves), I am semi-successful in this regard and that makes me feel that I am contributing in a positive way rather than taking money out of artists' pockets.

But when something here has a less than positive effect on an artist I take those words to heart and it provides an opportunity to rethink what I am hoping to accomplish.  I have removed the direct links but will add a fuller post about your music and provide a link to Dusk Versions where people can support you directly.

I can modify this to a Dusk "teaser" and include a few sample tracks but that is strictly up to you.  

I will leave the full enthusiasm up on the blog and continue to try and find that fine line between sharing my enthusiasm with others whereby conscientious and thoughtful music lovers will intentionally provide what I call "real support" for your music and other artists featured on the blog.  
He was genuinely surprised by, and appreciative of, my response and noted that many respond back to him calling him "closed minded" and "greedy" when he makes such requests. He mentioned that he would like to see more blogs like mine rather than the "No Data" variety (if you catch his drift) that just posts dozens of records a week with no information about them. This is one extreme of the "free market" economy; all consumption, no soul.

I like to think I have an 'ethic' behind what I post, that what is posted is really out of print or hard to find (or overpriced) or represents an artist who deserves more recognition and won't get it via the mainstream. And I still believe this to be true. However, even though the album I originally posted is two years old (my minimum requirement), I realized that it is not so simple.

A recent interview with Lou Reed quotes him denigrating the mp3 and those who download. His views are understandable and I'm sure there is more behind his statements but we all tend to categorize and it is rarely, if ever, so simple. Sure there are some, maybe even most, who fit into the categories of which he speaks.

There is a cultural shift we are in the midst of and it is much larger than just music and mp3s. I can't quite put my finger on it but can sense it as can, I think, many musicians.  Music is not about profit, that much is clear. It is more than just art in some high brow fashion that just because it exists deserves compensation. For those who love it and not just consume or divinize it, music is so much more. 

I realize that without samples folks are less likely to buy records, especially those from artists unfamiliar, but is it necessary to post an entire album to "try" for free? Bandcamp often streams entire albums. Isn't that enough to determine whether or not someone likes it?

And, as there seems to be a set point we've reached for the price of the music alone, isn't it fair enough then to send them genuine support (i.e. payment)? Most of the overhead (packaging, retail distribution, middlemen) is stripped away so it seems to be a more economically viable option. I have become a huge fan of Bandcamp and my purchase list continues to grow. And for old school folks like me the more "tactile" option is frequently provided.

The email exchange was a "before and after" moment and confirmed what I have been sensing and the exchange has made me that much more sensitive to what I do here and what the purpose is. He has visions of a book that will cover this terrain, that middle ground where many fear to tread which is that "pulse" of this cultural shift in which we are immersed.

I am excited to be on the "inside track" of his upcoming releases and will enthusiastically post what information he makes available to pass on. I think it is this personal connection to the music that is one of the biggest shifts taking place. This isn't an "idol" thing which is only created when artists are packaged and seem larger than life; this is a very "human" thing when we realize that the individuals behind the music are not so different than you and I, they just have a different vehicle for expressing themselves that hits us where we live.


  1. Nice, thoughtful post, thanks. There is indeed a big diff between blogs like yours and those that are just a big dumping ground. Original entries and not just copy/paste of text. The enthusiasms of a true music lover are contagious.

  2. I agree with Brad. An insightful, sensitive and intelligent post indeed. I've been a follower of good music blogs for many years, but they have been few and far between. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and knowledgewith us.

  3. Thank you for the kind words and the encouragement and your support here.

    With the op ed today from Pink Floyd in the USA Today about Pandora, we are certainly in a period of transition.

    What role does the lowly blogger play?