open debate

Regular activity on this blog will resume shortly, but first, I’d like to spark a bit of a debate. Recently, I’ve gotten a few emails and comments from musicians involved with the projects I’ve been posting, some of which are amazed to see such interest in their art, while others who are somewhat peeved (though only one has threatened legal action, back in this blog’s salad days) to see their records offered up for free. As a musician myself, I definitely understand this concern.

Here at Systems of Romance, I make a point to push and encourage the lot of you to buy the records I zip up, and oftentimes include links to pick up the records if they’ve been re-released. I seldom post material that is still in print and easy to get ahold of, if I can at all help it (naturally, many of the coldwave discs I posted a few months ago would cost us $50 or more, with the depreciation of the dollar to keep in mind). Otherwise, most of what I post hasn’t even made the jump to compact disc, or if it has, it’s long since off the shelves and impossible to track down without paying heinous prices on ebay.

In the end, if any artist is upset about seeing their work offered up here, I entreat you to drop me an email and say so, but also if your record is still in print to please tell us where we can get a copy. The way I understand it, an ebay auction does no justice to the original artist, so if it means paying $100 to get a particular record, there’s no money involved that goes back to the creators, it’s pure profit for the lucky sod who managed to get a copy before it became scarce. At least more folks can enjoy it here. However, if anyone feels strongly against seeing their work posted here, a simple email saying so will suffice, and I’ll happily take it down and point people in the proper direction to purchase a copy instead.

These days, it’s hard to draw the line between blatant theivery and free promotion, when CD sales are dwindling and most classic obscure material remains so. However, a whole new resurgence of interest takes form in blogs like these and soulseek/limewire/etc. Personally, I find it to be great exposure for otherwise low-key artists during their tenure. As I mentioned above, I would prefer if folks paid for the Funeral Crashers album, but if the price tag stops folks dead in their tracks, I’d rather give our record away for free than let it remain unheard. It just doesn’t make sense to me to have a record collect dust, in print or even virtually, when it’s meant to be enjoyed…

Anyway, I’d hope some of you, musicians and fans of this blog alike, would chime in and express your opinions on these matters, for I’d like to hear what you all think. Regular activity will probably resume next week, but I’d like to hear something from you kids out there in the crowd.

*ps: if you’re reading this on livejournal or on your feed program, please visit the home page and leave your comments there, as your words will most likely go unseen.

21 Responses to “open debate”

  1. natty art Says:

    Having been in a band myself all those years ago, I would feel flattered to discover my music on a blog here and now. It’d be wonderful to know that folks remember us and are still listening. Plus, it would be thrilling to know that possibly some new people might discover something that I thought long dead and forgotten. At this point, we’re not selling anything anymore any how. And I’d rather have people listening to it and enjoying it then not at all.

    If I were still in said band and we had a new cd out? I might feel differently. I’d, of course, rather make some sales and would probably prefer to only offer up a track or two as a sample to entice folks to buy the entire disc. But that’s not what you are doing here. You are offering the hard to find and, often, unavailable to buy. And I think it’s great that these bands are getting the exposure they might have missed out on in the past or might not otherwise have.

  2. claudelemonde Says:

    i think this is an eminently sensible system & i am so glad to be able to hear work that i would not otherwise a) ever hear OF and/or b) have access to. you are providing free PR for these artists as well as the personal touch of strong recommendation not tainted by commerce & i think people should be grateful.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    This is such an ambivalent subject to debate. I guess it all comes down to the person who made the music’s opinion of whether their music is being resurrected for all to hear, or if they are loseing money they could be getting. I ,personally, have enjoyed the new world of music that bloggs have introduced me to. All the music I have ever wondered about was made a beautifull reallity. I can understand how some artist may get ‘peeved’ about their work being posted. But, only if the music was reissued and had not had time to make a little lucre. But,also, anyone who bitches about their work being posted and has not reissued,nor seen the light of day in twenty years, is just being anal. This a question not too different from ” What came first, the musician or the music.” I don’t know if there is a right answer. Anyways, I will still continue enjoying the music that shows up on my favourite music blogs(This one included) regardless of who, or who does not, like it:)


  4. noiselessinfinity Says:

    You’re giving bands free promotion; I don’t see how anyone would want to argue with that. Even if the material posted isn’t generally available anymore, what you do could generate interest in the band and get bodies into a venue should that band (or individual members) still be around and making music. What could be lost in record sales is made up in ticket sales. If the band is long gone and the album off shelves for ages, then there’s no harm, really. I can’t imagine many people out there bootlegging music having the courtesy of listening to the artists themselves if there’s a problem with your posting; you are a gentleman in that respect.

    So, yeah, pretty much what everyone else said already. You’re doing good work; I wouldn’t change a thing if I were you. Keep playing re-animator to what might otherwise be dead and gathering dust.

  5. “The way I understand it, an ebay auction does no justice to the original artist, so if it means paying $100 to get a particular record, there’s no money involved that goes back to the creators, it’s pure profit for the lucky sod who managed to get a copy before it became scarce.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the above passage.

    More often than not we are talking about material that can only be bought second hand, and you’re not benefitting financially from posting the music on the blog, so where’s the problem?

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Keep doing what you’re doing. I love finding new and obscure bands here who I would have never heard of otherwise. If they are offended that their music is posted here, apologize, take the music off-line and replace it with a link directly to their online store where it can be purchased. But don’t close down this blog… Please don’t!

    “The way I understand it, an ebay auction does no justice to the original artist, so if it means paying $100 to get a particular record, there’s no money involved that goes back to the creators, it’s pure profit for the lucky sod who managed to get a copy before it became scarce.”

    QFT. FTW.

  7. John Hinkle Says:

    Artists will always have something to say about royalties, so long as they both exist. What needs to be focused on is the fact that this music would most likely go unheard by so many people who would enjoy it. So, I am very thankful to have cohorts who provide this service to people because of their sheer love of music, and the want to spread it out and get it heard.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how many times a blog like this has sparked my interest and/or re-sparked my interest in something I’ve never heard (or haven’t heard for a long time).

    I may be in the minority in that I still enjoy owning the hard copy on things that I like and so, yes, I will go out and seek the product.

    Most of what is here is so damn obscure that it is lame for the artists to be bitching at you about posting it here. They should be thanking you for bringing to light what is very often covered with dust. Few would know about some of this stuff if it wasn’t here.

    Torrents and such are out there and there is very little anyone can do to stop it at this point. For the record, I’m not behind torrenting, but this is not what is happening here. It’s a taste of things. That’s all.

    This is one of the better music blogs…and one of the more responsible ones with outright asking folks to support the artists every single post.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. This blog, and some others, have entered a whole new music inside my world. And because I came from former iron curtain land, I could not even heard about bands posted and portrayed here. Where else could I have heard about obscurities such like Rhythm and faith, Our heroes , Rebel christening, Mask for , Flowers for Agatha, Chatshow… Before those blogs I wasn’t even aware of coldwave gems like trisomie and siglo xx…
    You , and other similar bloggers, just keep on good work!

  10. badpauly Says:

    As a fan of music, DJ and friend of many bands, I can understand both (of the three) sides of the arguments from both muso’s and fans. The record-label’s argument is usually just “gimme gimme gimme” so I tend to ignore that side.

    Myself, I’ve had interest in bands rekindled by blogs such as this, that has led to me chasing down the albums. Rarely, however, does the band see any of this money as the albums are usually only found in 2nd-hand stores.

    Once an album has been deleted from the catalog by the label, that’s it. Apart from the odd copy still on a shelf, the release can only be found as ‘illegal’ downloads or 2nd-hand – and the artist will get nothing.

    To any artists out there who are upset by your music being put online for everyone to hear, ask a few questions. Can you buy the release still? Are you going to get any money from the sale of the release? Can you do something about it i.e. re-releasing the album/ep/songs yourself.

    If the answer to those questions is no, then you are losing nothing, and perhaps gaining a lot, by your music appearing here, so relax and enjoy the ride.

  11. Highlander Says:

    Agree with all of the above. I have had requests to remove music from CMI, which I have promptly complied with, and I have removed old posts when I notice a reissue containing the same material. If the music isn’t currently out there (other than exorbitant 2nd hand copies of course) then either the artists need to reissue in response to the demand created by blogs or they need to find an alternate vehicle for ‘getting their product out’ that precludes record company involvement but still allows them to make a living.

    The death of Oceanico71 shows either a) that anonymity on the ‘net allows you to pretend to be someone you are not and bully others into submission or b) that record companies and managers still think they can keep a lid on the proliferation of music sharing. If its the latter then they will soon price themselves out of existence.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I have been a part of several major bands that were classics in their time. And, I feel, I only need to say this once. Whether I reissue or not, if I don’t want you listening to my music for free on these pirate ports, than it is my right. I really wouldn’t want anyone who goes to these things to rip free music listening to my art anyways. You are all a bunch of leeches.

    John. A

  13. I personally resisted downloading any music for a long time out of an ethical stand in order to support the musicians. However, I found that the more I listened to songs off the web of bands that I had only head about or that I have never heard of, my purchase of hard copies has increased. I can see the self interested stand of the large music producers though, as most of these purchases are from small labels or directly from the artist. The large labels are not interested in having a large number of diverse small artists (as promoted through music blogs)as their bread and butter is large appeal generic pap that can be sold to large numbers of people. As has already been mentioned, the large labels have to recognize that the world has changed, and falure to adapt will lead to their dissapearance. As for posting OOP albumns, I agree that the only people making a profit on them now are the second hand dealers, not the artists. It does make me more likely to buy albumns that are still available though.

  14. John Hinkle Says:

    to JOHN A:

    it seems you are more interested in business than art.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    John A, I would really like to know which bands you were a member of cause I wouldn’t want in any case to support you by buying your albums.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    John A. was fictional. I just used him to start a little more heat to the debate. But, it worked didn’t it? 😉

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Who was the “artist” that threatened you legally? Please let me know so I can avoid them just out of spite.

    If anything, these obscure artists owe their newfound fame to the internet. Keep the good work!

  18. life is too short, I am too broke, there is too much music out there to discover….most of the stuff I like is out of print, but even if it wasn’t I probably wouldn’t buy it, I can’t even afford to get my cracked molar capped…

    plus any money I save is going towards a new synthesizer.

    I really appreciate you turning me on to so much music I would probably never have had the pleasure of hearing. Thanks for broadening my horizons and sharing inspiration.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    I would just like to add my support for what you are doing. I grew up listening to synth music from 1979 onwards, yet most of what you have posted is unknown to me.

    There will always be a few who feel they should have full control over their work, if it was me I’d be honoured to think that someone cared enough to get it out to as many people as possible. I doubt if much of the material will ever find it’s way onto cd, so this may be the last time it will ever get a public viewing.

    Thank you for what you are doing, and keep up the good work.

  20. You are performing a wonderful service for the fans of this type of music which is really hard to find and hasn’t been in print for years. The artists you are featuring on this site need to realize that alot of us downloading these tracks will be going out and buying whatever we can find on artists we like. You are also exposing us to so many bands that I just didn’t hear about back then and I’m discovering now. What a real shame it would be to let all this good music go unheard. Continue with the great work, I’ll be telling all my friends to tune into your site.

    BTW, many thanks for the Abecedarians download. I’m a big fan and have been hoping for years they would re-release their “Other side of the Fence” album on CD. What a great find! You made me so happy!

  21. Autocataclismo Kassette Bujarda Says:

    First of all, I've been following this blog ever since you first started it, simply because it always pops up whenever I search for music. I commend you for this effort, and urge you to keep it up.

    Regarding this issue, well, obviously music does not belong to anyone, not even the ones that created it. Only in recent times our greedy society found it appropriate to transform everything into a product, cultural product in this case. As a musician I upload my stuff to the free servers such as
    Without file sharing many of these out-of-print albuns would be long gone in some defunct label's basement, if anything we are doing those musicians a favour (if I was in their shoes). And even if there are still copies around, it would be a hassle to track, order and wait for the record, putting many of us off the purchase.
    Commercial laws should apply only to commercial products, i.e., commercial music.

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