28 June 2008

Why we share and how we do it

In the comments of an earlier post Anonymous asked about the ethics of sharing, and how to upload some of his records to share with others if he decided to do so. I thought it would be useful for us to share a few comments on this issue. It took me some time to work out the best way, especially as I used a Mac, and most advice seems to be for PC users. I can organise things quite quickly now.

I've therefore kicked things off with a comment of my own.


Wallofsound said...

I take quite an ethical stand as a file sharer. The main ethical issue, it seems to me, is if we were depriving a musician, or a record company owner who had a record available commercially, of income because people downloaded a shared file, rather than buy the record. For me sharing via a blog is just an extension of sharing records, or compiling the mix tapes that I used to do before I used the internet. Few people download the files I post. The very few who comment clearly enjoy the music, and many run blogs of their own. It's a community of music fans who share their records. I still buy records, and I buy music by a far wider range of artists because I've heard their music first via shared files on a blog. I try and only share music that is not currently available. That's the case with almost everything that's posted on inconstantsol. The music is available secondhand on eBay and the like; and as I said I sometimes buy records I have downloaded because I like to own the vinyl or CD. However, when I buy a secondhand record only the dealer gets the money. The musician and the record company doesn't. When I share, I get no financial advantage.

As to how to share, the music first needs to be in digital form first. CDs can just be ripped on your computer, but vinyl needs digitiising using some software [I use Audacity on my Mac (it's free)]. Then it needs converting to a compressed form that is smaller to up and download [I use Max to convert the wav files into mp3 and flac files]. mp3s are very small, but flacs are lossless: they give you wav quality in a smaller size format. I put these files in a folder with the scanned art work, and then convert the folders into rar format. This is primarily a way of compressing the data to make files smaller, but it doesn't do that with already compressed music files. The main value here is that you can make equal size files, set to just under 100mg which are easy to upload, and for others to download and open into their original form [I use SimplyRAR, but macs already have zip file capabilities]. Then you need to upload them to some sort of fileshare system. This saves a copy of your file to a remote server, and generates a url that you can send to others, or post on a blog [most people use Rapidshare, and they buy a premium account which allows you to download or upload without so many restrictions]. Then you need a blog to post them on. I was invited to join inconstantsol, and that's good for me because I only post every ten days or so. It's easy to set up a blog of your own on blogspot or wordpress.

Being involved in a music sharing community has been an education in itself.

gsrbrts2 said...

Thanks for your thoughtfull comments, Wallofsound. I share most of your views. I either seleect audience recordings, most of them my own, or OOP CDs/LPs. In fact, I had not considered sharing used CDs which are currently available, I might change my mind, though.

My experience is that most people who down load music from blogs do it quietly and rarely provide comments. Since I joined this bolg I have u/l two things. The Billy Bang was d/l 25 times in Flac and 21 in MP3 formats. The Satoko/Carla has already 47 d/l.



glmlr said...

Great! Thanks. I read all the above carefully. I know why I share, but I still don't have a clue as to how to. So I shall continue to call upon the tech-skills of my very fine friends here, just as in the old C#9 days!

csm said...

dear inconstant sol,
just wanted to say thanks for the incredible music on this blog. i'm just beginning to get into free jazz/free music/whatever we all call this stuff, and am finding this to be extremely helpful in figuring out what i like and what i don't like within the genre. which musicians i should explore more, which labels or music collectives, etc. and its not just the music downloads that are helpful but the postings and descriptions as well, that put everything in context (which seems to be crucially important in free jazz). so thanks again.

jazzme said...

I have posted cds by Eric Stach (follyfortoseewhat) a friend of mine though very few comments are made it does get downloaded with his permission and gets his music to listeners who would not get the chance to hear it . If it was not for file sharing there would be alot of music I would miss out on . I have one of the biggest collection of free form cds and get invited regularly to do a radio show . I do buy cds but not as often as I use to , importing these to Canada is very expensive .

Tantris said...

Most of my uploads are my own recordings from the radio onto a Yamaha HD1300 unit, which records in high quality losslessly (and is far and away the best value 'hifi' equipment I have ever purchased). I used to use a Naim NAT01 for FM recordings, but now use a Cablecom feed which, if anything, is of higher quality. I then burn a CDR from the Yamaha from which the files can be ripped to a PC or Mac.

I use a Mac, and Itunes is what I now use as a default music player. (I stream from the Mac to my hifi using an airport express - the quality is very good and gets you out of the barmy hifi world). So, the first job is to get the files from the CDR into Itunes in Apple lossless format, which Itunes does automatically. I can also use Itunes to convert these files to mp3 format, if that's needed.

If I want either to torrent the files, or to upload them to rapidshare, flac is the file format of choice, and I use XAct (a free utility) to rip the files in this format from the CDR. This utility can also generate the .md5 checksum file needed for a torrent. If the files are destined for rapidshare, they need to be compressed into chunks of just under 100mb - I transfer the files to a PC where I have WinRar and simply use the compression wizard to get the .rar files needed. (I could probably find a utility that could also do this on the Mac). I then upload the files to rapidshare - which can be a painful process depending on how many times you have to repeat the upload before it is accepted.

When I download, I convert flac files into a format which can be accepted by Itunes, and then convert these into Apple lossless format. All in all, these various workflows work reasonably well, but take quite a lot of time and intervention.

On the other issues - I have certainly spent much more on commercially available material, because of being introduced to different music and artists, then I would have done otherwise. I hope that most artists would welcome radio programmes which feature them, or audience recordings, reaching a wider audience than they would have otherwise, as it is almost certainly to their net benefit. One thing that amazes me is how small the audience is for free music and 'real' classical music. Leo Records' 9CD box of Anthony Braxton's piano music is a run of 500 copies, and Hathut editions of 2 - 3,000 CDs seem to take 3-5 years to sell out. I suspect that most small labels sell 500 - 2,000 CDs for the bigger names, and considerably less for minor artists. (If I'm wrong, please correct me). The economic conclusion from this is that there isn't a lot of money to be made, that it is not certain that the expenses needed to record, produce, print and market a free jazz CD will be recovered, and that cashflow is difficult to manage.

Consequently, I do have a lot of sympathy with small labels (including FMP), who try to protect their intellectual property. It's easy to ask why they don't make archive material available, either through a reprint or through an online catalogue, but they probably don't have the resources to make investments like this across the board, particularly if there are copyright issues which could expose them to some form of legal liability. I think there is enough radio / concert material available, which doesn't infringe their rights, without needing to make commercially available material available.

The number of downloads from this blog considerably exceeds the number of comments on the music. The Circle Hamburg concert has had over 200 downloads - we're getting into small label CD circulation numbers here - with relatively little interesting dialogue on the music. The Peter Evans / Totem Trio post has already had over 80 downloads, with no comments yet of any substance at all on the music. I'm only really interested in sharing music if it generates a dialogue and discussion, either from people who are much more knowledgable than me on what this music represents, or from those who are beginning to come to terms with it. That's the real challenge of a blog like this - not the ethical issues, imho.

glmlr said...

Eminently well said, Tantris.

Boromir said...

Interesting though the points you make in the latter part of your comments tantris, I can't say I agree with them. Frankly, I have no interest in intellectualising over a piece of music. If I enjoy the music, that's enough for me. Learning what the artist was trying to convey won't make me enjoy it any the more. If people want to discuss at depth what I post, then that's fine by me, but I won't read it. I'm quite satisfied with comments like "great" or "rubbish" or just "thanks". The last thing I want to do as a contributor is to make people think that this site is an elitist one and only people with great insight into the music can participate.

kingpossum said...

Agreed, Boromir. As a listener, I cannot begin to deduce the artist's intent, that belongs to the artist alone. I simply enjoy the art (or not), and leave only minimal commments in the spirit of acknowledging the artist and the sharer.

I enjoy reading Boromir's comments for precisely that reason--they're short and in the spirit of sharing the music, nothing more.

Thanks Wallofsound for your lead-off comments. Only thing I would add there to any self-anointed share police is: when you sold your used Corolla to the guy down the street, did you send some of the money to Toyota? I didn't think so.

Thanks all for making Inconstant Sol the island of great music and good spirit that it is.

glmlr said...

Good food for thought, gentlemen. I think what Tantris was implicitly saying is that, listeners and musicians alike, we are all on a learning curve. Consequently, the reactions of each one of us listeners here can be a potential source of enlightenment to us. Each one of us, young or old, has XYZ experience and knowledge of the music, and XYZ tastes and personal preferences. Learning more about those individual perspectives can therefore, I feel, be illuminating to others.

hookfinger said...

I'm just a lowly music buff. I stumled across this blog when linking from another blog I stumbled across. As a result I have discovered a whole genre of music that I may never have run across. For that alone I thank you!

kingpossum said...

Thanks for noting that, hookfinger. It's how I found this blog too. There's a few blogs I have bookmarked not for the music they post, but for the links list! It's a great way to explore.

Tantris said...

Hmmm … all I can say is that I usually find it opens my mind to be able to understand others' reactions and responses to music, or writing, or art, and that it is a bit unusual for there to be a dearth of comments given the number of downloads. Anyway, I'm not sure where phrases such as 'intellectualising … elitist', or 'self-anointed share police' come from, but if that's the general view, I'm outta here.

Cheers, Tantris

Tantris said...

… one final comment - this is not vacuum-packed music for mass shallow consumption - I think much of the music has political or indeed intellectual aspects which get to the heart of questions on authenticity, cultural representation and alienation which are worth exploring, imho ...

Boromir said...

Tantris, there is room for many different kinds of music here. I don't think sotise, when he started this blog, ever intended that the content here should be resticted to a specific genre. If you want to post stuff with political and intellectual meaning to it, you're quite welcome, and I'm sure there are many folk out there who appreciate that, but myself, I'm only interested in music that makes me happy or stirs my senses in some way. I'll get my philosophical kicks in other ways.

farosanderson said...

Tantris, the problem I perceive with discussion along the lines you desire is that as soon as opinions are put in print any nuance and body language that may accompany an oral debate is lost and misunderstandings soon occur due to the black and white nature of the printed word or that the debate flows off at mostly irrelevant tangents. Any time spent browsing chat rooms such as Jazz Corner will attest to this.
Personally I am happy to thank those contributing the music and make a brief comment as to the quality of same. I am not interested to any large extent in discussing the politics or other of the music. The paramount reason I listen to any music, whatever the style, is because it gives me pleasure or is emotionally uplifting. I am comforted in the knowledge that there is small community of like minded individuals who wish to share their musical experiences.
Like most here I have spent many $1000's on vinyl and CD's over the years. How much of what I've spent actually reached the artists is anyones guess. I have no ethical qualms about sharing this music particularly as it is OOP or broadcasts. I have for my own pleasure done a number of vinyl tranfers, some of which is OOP material that may be of interest, however getting it to a up/downloadable state is another matter. I found this blog about 6 months ago and have been truly grateful. Long may it live.

glmlr said...

Tantris: "Baby, please don't go".

Boromir: What music do you listen to which makes you feel the endless other human emotions which music can evoke? Those other than happy.

il angelo said...

One of the things that a blog like this has taught me is how narrow the limits and categories I managed were, how limited my knowledge was, even if I have plenty of lps and have borrowed ample collections from friends and neighbours nearly to exhaustion. I no longer theorize now having had access to unimagined recordings that had shaken firm ideas that obviously had weak fundations. OOP material, concert recordings are prefered because, yep, I have continued buying records, e bay and not ebay, the rate hasn't decreased an inch, but my reference points have changed even if I knew many of the musicians posted, some only by name, some I had records that the posts here had made me to relisten and reevaluate ( look no further: Frank Lowe's Black Saints and a couple of CIMPs, something moved by the excellent concert with Grachan Moncur). Most of this music is not easily available when not utterly impossible to get or fairly beyond my means. Thanks for this gentlemen, for the pleasure of listening to very great music nowhere else to be found and for the nourishing intellectual discussion I suppose many of us carry with us when listening to your posts. That's priceless, as it is the state of continuous wonder that move us to comment this or that with friends around, not circunscribed to the blogsphere. As farosanderson puts it: long may it live. Much obliged.

bombshelterslim said...

Hey, thought I'd throw my 2 cents worth into the discussion. It's only very recently I've started looking through blogs such as this one, and I've been very gratified to find any number of recordings of my favourite artists that have either been long out of print or never released commercially. I think I'm now complete for Marion Brown (this has been a decades long work in progress), almost there for James Blood Ulmer, still working on Cecil, will never get there for Braxton, etc etc etc. My hat's off to you gentlemen and all the others of your ilk, keep up the good work.
Still haven't seen any post for Spring Of 2 Blue-J's, anyone interested?

dalemcbdnl said...

Art changes us to the extent that we allow.

I guess I feel “tastes” are cultivated and attempts to articulate how we feel and how personal emotions evolve are NOT hollow elitist exercises. And I will admit that I’m disappointed and even dismayed when I hear or see anti intellectualism at work. There is no doubt that we are all unique but that doesn’t constitute an argument against intellectual pursuits NOR for the radical extreme of solipsism. I worry that if we really believe in the futility of dialog or in the view that everything about aesthetics is innate or totally personal or “relative” then all communication is pointless. At the same time, I am wary of the notion that our musical constructs are true in any absolute sense. It seems to me, ironically, that communication depends on the personal and not the universal.

I suspect that what I am seeing in some of the posts here is a decision to repudiate the adventure of changing through self examination because tastes are bewilderingly complex and difficult to examine. To be sure, the underlying factors of our aesthetic judgments are subliminal for understandably practical reasons. Our biological memory systems do not allow us to recall and examine every relevant shred of our past in order to grasp what we feel in the present. But I think our consequent responses are based on a huge volume of experiences, a conglomerated melange of experiences if you will, underlying and supporting our moment to moment subjective reactions. We are “filled” with hearing “fragments” (please pardon the container analogy) that have been sorted, shaped and lumped into sets of “predilections” which we have “learned” to perceive as “inborn tendencies or tastes.” There is no doubt that our personal music tastes and preferences are astoundingly complex and mostly inaccessible. And there is no question that it is a challenge to “will” what we hear as “beautiful” to change. Not quickly, anyway. BUT it would be a cop out FOR ME to simply accept the status quo of my tastes. Being surprised and shocked is one of the more important things I want from music and the arts in general. And I want to emphasize that I feel neither changing nor being surprised are difficult or stress producing unless we decide that that is the case. The arts have the potential to change us precisely to the extent that we will allow them to do so. And I acknowledge that admitting to and changing these “subjective” verities takes time and patience. Also, I am clear that the objective of MY personal intellectual exercises are not about anyone but ME. I think it is fun and entertaining to consciously coax myself to more integrated and broader notions in music. As for this and other blogs, for me they are MAINLY about enjoying and sharing. But another part of it for me is certainly that in consequence of these exchanges I will grow and become LESS not More defined in my tastes. There is one thing we all do. We change, and I think we can exercise some degree of control over how this evolution (growth?) occurs.

That process (of growing!) is enhanced by both the music and the discussions I find at this site. And, finally, it eludes me as to why people think a site should NOT be focussed on music that challenges us. There is an abundance of sites (indeed we are surrounded and engulfed by conventional musics) that cater to more traditional values in music. Tantris, Sotise and others here are doing something extraordinary. Being intellectual is neither effete nor narrowing.


Boromir said...

Are you suggesting that this site should concentrate only on music that is challenging and difficult, because if that is the case, then, to quote Tantris, "I'm outta here".It does seem that there is an intolerance here that is trying to impose a mission statement of sorts.

dalemcbdnl said...

Boromir, I don't think having a focus is the same thing as being exclusionary or narrowing. Traditional musics are not bad. It's only when one asserts that ONLY those traditional approaches are "real music" that I begin to worry. And if you were to see my collection of 15 or so thousand albums you would see that I have collected MOSTLY traditional things over the years. My directions have been altered (I hope deepened and broadened) by my experiences. But I have NOT turned my back on musical traditions - just added to them. As Hemphill said, the ONLY direction (for him) was forward.

Remember what is the case in the real world - what ALL of you at inconstantsol (the music you present included) are doing is really special compared to the standard fare out there. You do seem to be a LITTLE more conservative than some of the others on the blog BUT only by a little bit. And, to your credit, you do regularly post albums and concerts that you know some of the "hard core types" (I hate that label) will go for. NONE of you should be "out of here" because I think the focus (and breadth) of Inconstantsol is just fine - no complaints there. The main thing that bothered me was the seeming assumption that in depth discussions would likely be perceived as "elitist." I would rather assume that people would NOT be intimidated by well developed perspectives and broadening "tastes." And I respecfully disagree with "farosanderson said" in the view that writing more considered and lengthy reactions to music is lacking in nuance because of the black and white nature of the printed word. Well written comments are, in my view, broadening and helpful because they often point out "naunces" in the music that I may have missed. And my my ability to experience music (at the next listening) is to some degree enhanced. At least I feel I've been stimulated to hear the music in a "new" light. To me that is a terrific thing.

Being literate and reading are good things in my "book." And doing a bit of reaching in music is also good. Don't you think?


glmlr said...

... which is another way of saying that the Sol is purposely Inconstant.

Reza said...

I'm sure this blog used to be yellow

intempestif said...

I really like the new look and the new picture! It's the best blog for this music on the net. Chutch Number Nine and Jazz Relics ceased to exist, that was quite a blow. Please keep going and if there is anything I can do to help, I gladly will, anytime.

kinabalu said...

Gosh, it took a while to wade through this thread!

Overall, I think WoS's initial post sums it up pretty well - both the whys and the hows. The main difference is that I'm on a Windows platform, but the procedure is very much the same.

As to the content and direction of the blog, I will recommend the free-form rule: the blog is exactly what posters and commentators make of it. If some prefers the short, succinct style of presentation, then that's cool with me. If some has the inclination and desire to do more historical-biographical, contextual or critical presentations, then that's cool with me, too.

In any case, don't think there's no urgent need for any mission statement. I suppose we carry our implicit mission statements by participating here, and if they head in slightly different directions, then, so much the better for making the blog a little more diverse and a little less predictable.

I know my tastes are quite eclectic and possibly quite illogical and inconsistent, and not all that I like would be appropriate here, but I believe we have a rough working idea about what goes here and what doesn't.

Good to see so many comments, so should be enough encouragement for us to carry on (and hopefully attract some new contributors - no upper limit for that).

sotise said...

@ kinabalu
when i started this blog i had no intention of making it exclusively a free jazz/improvised music blog ,or following in the footsteps of the lamented ch#9 site.

to this day i get irritating emails asking me how to get in to ch#9 by people who think its gone invitation only.

theres no particular reason not to post rare/live material in other genres, i also have ecclectic tastes and do not rule out posting other musics i like.

sotise said...

@ wallofsound and/or anyone using a mac platform.

i have a friend B, who early on provided some lp's and a few live concerts such as the walt dickerson concert. he is having trouble downloading files, unfortunately i cant help since i use windows xp.

heres what he says

"I just tried to download the Jaco album via rapidshare (mp3) with a total failure. Yes, I have Safari and when I copyand paste I get a Verizon page (my DSL provider) that says "Sorry, ______ does not exist or is not available" I then switched to firefox and got the same result and message with a copy and paste effort. I'm stymied over this because I have gotten further than this before but as I told you the rapidshare code word was too long to fit in the window. Indeed this is a major disappointment. I'm just pissed that this is so difficult and I haven't a clue".

any possible solutions to the issues in question would be much appreciated.

Wallofsound said...

Often the whole length of the RS link is not visible on the page on my Mac, although I don't know why. However, as I know it is there I just drag the curser from left to hard right of the link (into the invisible part) and then down a line. I always mange to select the link that way.

However, for the Trilogue post (I'm assuming that's the Jaco you were referring to, B?) I can see the whole link in both Safari and Firefox, and I have no problem selecting it, pasting it into another window, and then downloading it. I wonder if you are just missing a single letter when you select the link.

We could start turning the link strings into actual clickable links. I'll do that with the 'Jaco' link if gsrbrts2 is happy for me to do so.

The other thing to say is that I use a download manager (Speed Download) along with Flash Got (a Firefox plug-in) which allows me to just select the RS link and alt-click the selected text and it starts the download for me. It's great if you use the flac links because it takes all the links in one go.

If B gets the same problem with other links then it may be his ISP, Verizon. Are they blocking RS links? Have you used all your RS credit up?

Because I can't reproduce the problem, I'm not sure what's going on. Hope one of my suggestions helps.

kinabalu said...

One possible solution, which I have used on occasion, is to provide a tinyurl link, in addition to the full RapidShare or Divshare link or whatever. The tinyurls will fit easily into the IE and Firefox windows.

agreed, let's keep it eclectic.

dalemcbdnl said...

Thinking along "eclectic" lines, do you think the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood or the Finnegan & Wood "Crazed Hipsters" LPs would be of interest to anyone? If so, I'll be glad to provide (that's MAIL) copies to someone.

I think I've said ABOUT all I want to say directly about this issue of openness/genre "hopping" or whatever one chooses to label it. It's just that "freshness" is so very important to me. Even so, I hope people don't take umbrage when I "go on" about it. Finally, it seems true to me that artists can be innovative OR interesting and, of course, engaging whether they are "in" or "out" of the pocket.

Thanks to ALL of you for putting together such an engaging and FUN blog.


sotise said...

dale , no umbrage taken... great idea, i like jerry hahn, confess ive never heard of the Finnegan & Wood "Crazed Hipsters"
sounds great!!

bayviewsax-lostsoul.blogspot.com said...

I also *try* not post otherwise available music for sharing. However, I have made exceptions for music that I think is worth hearing and people might not otherwise get exposed to it. I also use lower bit-rate conversion (128-192) so that the downloader has incentive to purchase the original document. Additionally, I've posted some of my private recordings, recorded with permission of the musicians. I don't *always* get that permission, and when I don't, I don't share it. I've also put my own music out there as a means of gaining exposure to it, as well as that of folks I know.

The reality about most file sharing (as was also true about the height of the Napster craze) is that it actually encourages people to buy more music. I know I've never purchased music as regularly as I did during the Napster period. Right now, I use eMusic a lot, something I had not been doing prior to the discovery of these blogs.

All of that said, there is at least one blog that I believe acts in a very unscrupulous manner. I say that as a musician and as someone who has paid out of pocket to help lesser-known music get produced. The biggest thing is to use your head when you do this. If there's a mom-n-pop record company producing short runs of your favorite music, go ahead and share song samples, but don't undermine them by making the entire recording available. In the end, that's just bad for everybody.

gsrbrts2 said...

Wallofsound, I have no objection to enabling others to download the material I share here...please do whatever is necessary to the Trilogue links.

Sorry for the delay, I've been away.