Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A question for my readers - Please read and comment

I've needed to take some time off from the blog to attend to work, family and band. I plan to begin posting in earnest again shortly and have some great exclusive interviews for your reading pleasure.

In the meantime I need to ask for reader feedback. When I launched this blog my vision was to combine my love of ska and reggae with my own personal insights and relationships to make it a full multi-media experience. The idea was to allow readers to not only read about the bands and musicians who made 2-Tone ska and reggae what it is, but also to listen to and enjoy the music. However, I have been criticized for allowing visitors to this blog to download songs and albums (most, but not all that are out-of-print and unavailable) via links found on other blogs and Web sites that make it readily available. It's been suggested that adding links to these sites is akin to being an accessory to a crime and that I am abetting the act of stealing music.

While I wish to withhold a decision on what I plan to do with this blog moving forward, I want to hear from all of you about your thoughts on this issue. There are people who fervently believe (and have made their views about this blog very clear here and on other blogs) that illegal music downloading is stealing and is morally wrong. They feel that it takes money away from artists who deserve to be compensated for their recorded work. As a musician and songwriter I can empathize with this position. Along with my band mates, I have invested thousands of hard earned dollars from gigs in recording 4 albums worth of our own original music. We have paid for studio time, paid for engineering, paid for mastering, paid for graphic art work, paid for pre- and post-production and paid for shipping the CDs. Don't get me started about indie record labels and the terms of their deals. I acutely know what it feels like to be on the other side. I'm pretty sure all our albums are available for download somewhere on the Internet. I know most kids who like our band have shared our albums with each other via get file programs that permit them to access each other's hard drives and download the music files directly. There is little we as a band can do to stop this. Instead we have to take solace in the fact that they like our music and know the songs when they see us live. If they buy a t-shirt or a button then we make up the cost and pay for our gas money and save for the next recording. That's life as an indie band.

On the other hand, as a passionate fan and music consumer for nearly 30 years, I have supported the old and new music industry and bands with my love, attention and hard earned cash. I've paid top dollar to see thousands of live shows at clubs, arenas and stadiums and I have always made a point of also buying a t-shirt, poster or a tour program (this is what some of my best memories are made of). I have spent countless thousands and thousands of dollars on records, 45's, 12" singles, bootleg LPs, cassette tapes, CD's and MP3 downloads. I am old enough to remember when albums and CDs were priced at $19.99 a piece at Tower Records and I have bought far too many $30 and $4o imports and paid $50 for bootlegs at New York City records stores. I am an active iTunes user and have bought plenty of music from eMusic and Amazon. I support new models of distribution that make it easier for fans to access music that is affordable. All to often, music fans have paid far too much for music. Our passion was often taking advantage of to underwrite high music executive salaries, drug and alcohol fueled band riders and largess. Like the current banking crisis, the music industry binged itself to death. Then, when Shawn Fanning launched Napster the music industry went after its own consumers instead of adapting and providing them what they wanted.

So, I'm asking both my regular readers as well as those of you who come here solely to download what you think and what you would like to see happen. Let me hear what you think.


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