Monday, November 10, 2008

Heads up their Ash

Wishbone Ash, 1970

One of the blogs to put some of the best live music on WB's iPods has been Soundaboard, a labor of love that hosts "only rare and non-official rock recordings" for download. We're talking live shows from the 1970s through this year, a few of them audience recordings but many of them top-quality professional soundboard mixes that were broadcast live to FM radio audiences.

In some cases, the only live performances from certain bands exist at Soundaboard and nowhere else — the groups' labels never released a live disc while the musicians were together. That's the case with one of WB's favorite "barroom stomp" bands from the 80s, the Georgia Satellites (you know 'em: she said don't hand me no lines, and keep your hands to yourself).

Of course, lurking out there in the shadows for anyone running a music blog are a team of junkyard dogs named RIAA and DMCA — the Recording Industry Association of America and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The latter was drafted by Congress to protect ownership of digital media and allow enforcement of copyright infringement. The former is the thug that goes around town breaking bloggers' fingers to make them... "cooperate" with the protection and enforcement.

WB's position on this is simple. If the new disc by AC/DC — pledged to be sold only by Wal-Mart — or the new disc by Guns n' Roses, pledged exclusively to Best Buy — are leaked online for free, then this is a flagrant illegality that robs these poor, struggling retailers of a chance to make a few dollars and contribute to their communities through jobs and taxes.

Okay, that was sarcasm. But seriously, if an old and totally obscure live recording by a forgotten band like Wishbone Ash is uploaded for sharing, then, like, WTF should the RIAA care about? The process works like this: blog readers discover a site like Soundaboard, read about a live concert by an unfamiliar group, download the share, say "Wow, this band tears it up live," and immediately go to iTunes or Amazon to start checking out the act's deep catalog.

That would be good, right?

But the RIAA's preferred version is this: blog readers never discover a site like Soundaboard, read nothing about any bands, download no concert tapes from decades ago that were never released for sale to anyone, and go to no music retailer to discover or buy anything.

We're not economists, but that model seems profoundly stupid.

Read the "takedown notice" from Blogger to Soundaboard on behalf of the RIAA for yourself, right here. And check the right side of the page for links to some excellent live broadcasts — while they, and the blog itself, still exist. Finally, as an extra bonus, enjoy this rare, RIAA-sanctioned, DMCA-approved video of Wishbone Ash in concert:


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