Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Turn and face the strain

Bloody hell. Muxtape is down, courtesy of the friendly folks at the RIAA. Just another installment of old media having jumped the shark and scared out of its wits by new media.

Muxtape was a service that allowed users to post 12-track mixes for anyone to listen to - a digital version of the mixtape or a low-tech podcast, however you want to view it. Andrew Durkin of IJG did it. Scott C did it. I never used it, but appreciated the idea of it. Sure, it's copyright infringement - but so were making mixtapes back in the day, taping tunes off the radio or LPs. And how many people, after hearing something on someone's m(i/u)xtape, moseyed over to the record store or to iTunes and put down cold hard cash? Or better yet, went to go see the artist live?

Why the RIAA continues to get its panties in a twist over file-sharing astounds me: it has minimal effect on sales. It's a fallacious claim, assuming that all downloads are of artists that the downloader would have otherwise bought. I've heard tons of new, or at least new-to-me, music over services like Muxtape and Pandora that I never would have purchased beforehand. I've also downloaded tunes to learn for auditions or gigs, which fall under fair use (educational). And what of sites that post long out-of-print gems that are unlikely to ever be reissued? Perfect example: in the golden days when Pandora existed in Canada, the first station I created was Maria Schneider radio. One of the first few related tracks to pop up was track one of Anthony Braxton's Creative Orchestra Music 1976. I'd have never thought to check out that record otherwise, and now I'm willing to shell out big bucks for the upcoming Mosaic set because I heard that music over ye olde interwebz.

And what of artists like Durkin who were using Muxtape to extol the virtues of their own art in the context of a mix? And what if Professor Gann had posted a Muxtape of post-minimalism - his advocacy of "new music" brings composers to my inbox that I'd never hear of. And if a muxtape, or a web radio station, or a blog leads to commissions and gigs, what does the RIAA have to say to that?

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