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DRM Free Music is Everywhere 369

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the do-you-hear-what-i-hear dept.
guisar writes "I continue to endure stories on Slashdot and elsewhere complaining about EMI, itunes and other organizations maybe (or maybe not) releasing material in DRM free format. Well- here's some news there's LOTS of material out there. So instead of complaining, download what you like. There are plenty of artists releasing their material in FLAC and other DRM free format. Just look around. Most artists are doing their part by releasing their music in the hopes they can gain enough exposure to earn a living at what they love. If you're complaining about major labels not releasing material, it's probably too late and you are part of the problem." I think this point is often unfairly ignored: the existence of DRM is a fantastic chance for new distribution to reveal new bands. Unfortunately this music is difficult to find because there is simply so much of it.
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DRM Free Music is Everywhere

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:53PM (#18182594) Homepage Journal
    As a very very small music producer (basically, I give bands money to record or tour, and I hope to recoup some of that investment in the future), I work very hard to get the bands I finance to repudiate not just DRM but copyright in general. Small bands have no real reason for either -- recording music is just a marketing process to try to get people to come to your shows. Sure, without copyright, some big producer might steal your lyrics and music and have the newest pop boy band re-record it, but this too would just be a great marketing tactic -- the Internet would jump all over it.

    Small bands need to give their recorded music away freely online in order to get more people to come to their shows. My brother's band Maps & Atlases [maps-atlases.com] just went on a 7 day tour to the East Coast and ended up in a tiny university town called East Stroudsburg, PA. Instead of showing up to no crowd, the venue was packed -- a rarity for the town and venue. Why did this happen? Maps & Atlases released their EP for free online. They sold out of their first EP (2000 copies) during their 2006 tour, and they're coming up fast on selling out their second pressing, even though the music is easily downloaded online. Why do fans pay for albums? They get face time with the band, they get autographs, and they know that buying the merch direct will keep the band writing and touring.

    DRM is terrible for any band but the absolute largest, and even for them it is bad because the new fan base wants to have nothing to do with it. I look at it this way: DRM for the adult contemporary crowd just makes life harder for them, DRM for the teen crowd is easily bypassed. But it isn't just DRM that makes things difficult, it is also the fact that copyright really throws fan distribution a curve -- even the fans who openly distribute the music know it is "piracy" but they feel they're helping the band.

    I look at the Internet as one big radio station waiting to be harnessed by smaller musicians all over the world. Write music with one purpose: to attract fans to your live shows where you can make your income by continuing to work, rather than hoping to write one hit once and earn royalties for the rest of your life. Who here works a regular job and wishes that they could work a few months in exchange for years of income? Life doesn't work that way -- unless you work with the distribution cartels that are quickly watching their futures slip through their fingers. If you're in a band, tell your fans to copy your music for their friends in hopes that those friends will become the new fans. Viral marketing is key to making a solid income in live music.

    Sidenote: If you're in a band and you disagree with me on making a living, it is because you're trying to keep a "steady job" while also trying to tour. You can't do both. My brother's bandmates all quit their jobs (some of them have master's degrees!) to handle a tour schedule that includes typically 20 shows a month. Stop whining and dig in.
    • Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:05PM (#18182778) Homepage Journal
      Twenty paying shows a month? You're absolutely extraordinary.

      I'm serious: I worked with a woman who did your job for a while. She spent the days making phone calls to venues who generally never called back. The band I worked for was extraordinarily talented (download some of their music for free here [myspace.com]). They quit their day jobs for over two years. They toured up and down the East coast and as far as Detroit. They had a devoted but small audience.

      If they could have booked 20 paying gigs a month, they'd still be in existence. Most venues want cover bands, not original music. The venues have the power and so they get to treat me rudely. I bow before your superior nagging-people-on-the-phone skills.

      (It's because of that that the "Hey, give the music away and make it up at the live shows" argument on Slashdot makes me furious. But if you've got the secret for booking venues, please let me know and I'll retract everything I've said about it.)
      • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:15PM (#18182888) Homepage Journal
        Twenty paying shows a month? You're absolutely extraordinary.

        I don't book shows -- they have someone who handles that in exchange for a cut of merch sales. She handles dozens of bands, and she gets them shows constantly. I can't think of one band I work with that can't get 10+ shows a month by hiring a booking agent, even small bands.

        She spent the days making phone calls to venues who generally never called back. The band I worked for was extraordinarily talented (download some of their music for free here). They quit their day jobs for over two years. They toured up and down the East coast and as far as Detroit. They had a devoted but small audience.

        She didn't follow through well with her contacts. Venues want to see warm bodies buying beer, if you send bands to them that don't attract even a small crowd, they won't call you back ever. The best way to get a band out there is to get them involved with show promoters (we have www.mpshows.com in Chicago) and get them opening for small bands. A lot of bands don't want to invest the 1-2 years it takes opening up for bands that they think are worse than them. I know, I watch bands all the time give up because they won't move forward with the risk. Many people invest 4-8 years in college to further their career; a band needs to invest 1-2 years of even more work, and they don't have to pay as much as college costs.


        If they could have booked 20 paying gigs a month, they'd still be in existence. Most venues want cover bands, not original music. The venues have the power and so they get to treat me rudely. I bow before your superior nagging-people-on-the-phone skills.


        I have never heard of a venue that wants cover bands over original music. The indie pop scene is huge right now, I just went to an indie show last night in Chicago for 4 bands that I've never heard of, and they were all excellent and the crowd was thick. Cover was $7, but all 4 bands sold a ton of merch to people who liked their sound -- and I think I heard one cover song the entire night. I go to 2-3 shows per week in the Spring and Summer, and I have yet to visit one venue in Chicagoland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and the Bronx that had cover bands. Most of the bands I talk to fail because they refuse to invest the time it takes to get notoriety.

        (It's because of that that the "Hey, give the music away and make it up at the live shows" argument on Slashdot makes me furious. But if you've got the secret for booking venues, please let me know and I'll retract everything I've said about it.)

        Plan on investing as much time honing your writing and performing skills -- make it like a future career. You go to college for 4 years and spend up to $100,000 learning a trade or a skill, why should a lifetime of performing be any different?

        One thing, though: there are a LOT of bands that just don't have it -- just like there are programmers or CAD operators or lawyers who don't have it. It is easier to pick up a guitar and a mic and find 3 friends and call yourself a band than it is to become a lawyer, so of course there is a higher drop out rate. Yet I still see venues dark 3+ nights a week for a lack of bands committed to playing and bringing in warm bodies.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The indie pop scene is huge right now...

          And it was huge a decade ago (see Slumberland, March, Simple Machines, K, Shinkansen, Elefant, etc). And it was huge a decade before that (and even somewhat mainstream in the UK) (see Sarah, 53rd & 3rd, anything jangle/shambling/twee). And it will continue to be huge a decade from now. Basically, indie pop ain't going anywhere...
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          A lot of bands don't want to invest the 1-2 years it takes opening up for bands that they think are worse than them.

          I find this absolutely hilarious. Few things make so much impact as when the "real" band utterly fails to follow the openers.

          I saw Seaweed (they fucking sucked) and Green Day open for Bad Religion one year in Santa Cruz. Green Day was quite good, didn't steal the show or anything, but everyone was on the floor for them whereas anyone on the floor for Seaweed was standing around talking. Just

          • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:50PM (#18183368) Homepage Journal
            Okay, so that's a travesty, but it still underlines the point that putting in your time is part of the game.

            I'm not sure it's a travesty (I love Bad Religion but I think Green Day does a better job interacting with fans, and they've always been that way), but I agree 100%.

            If you want to make money as a band, stop pretending you're "just an artist trying to be heard." Anything you do for income must be entered in with a business perspective. If you want to be broke performing, that is easy to do. If you want to pay the bills and live off of performing, you have to understand that you are now in the market of entertaining others, and this requires investing the time it takes for people to know that you will always be there for THEIR needs (entertainment), so they will support YOUR needs (financial).
            • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

              by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:02PM (#18183580) Homepage Journal

              I love Bad Religion but I think Green Day does a better job interacting with fans

              Well, if you consider spitting on people a better job of interacting with them, I guess you're right.

              On the other hand, Greg Graffin has a habit of hanging around where people can find him and talk to him after shows - or at least I've found that to be true, and have spoken with him after two of three BR shows I've seen.

        • by jfengel (409917)
          Thank you for your advice. I'm told that it's partly the area they made their home base (Washington, DC) which books more cover bands than indie bands. They also partly blame their interest in rather complicated, non-radio-friendly, non-hook-driven music. I'm not a musician myself, and I don't go to many bars, so I can't really say.

          I'm very sorry that this band had to break up. They had extraordinary musical talent, and did put in the time and energy and follow-through, but even in the best of circumstanc
      • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon@NosPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:27PM (#18183026) Homepage Journal
        What you are describing is the *real* reason for DRM. It's not about sales from records. It's about control. The real money comes from building hits. A DRM-free world would mean a democratization of music, and at worst the disappearence of "hit bands" and at least the lack of control on the part of industry execs to predict or even manufacture those bands.

        Consider especially the boy-bands of the late 90s. It was literally a money-making machine owned from the industry from start to finish.

        But to do this, the industry requires tight control over who listens to what. I'm not some sensationalist saying that they can determine who likes what. But through the use of DRM they can monitor and influence choices. I like emo/screamo. There are DOZENS of bands who play very good music of this genre. About 3 are on the radio. Why? Because it's more profitable to have 3 popular bands than 12 semi-popular bands.

        The industry needs to keep the pyramid-shape of the market to be able to siphon the rich profits off the top, and they need to be able to stay at the top of the pyramid.

        This is what DRM is really for.

        http://kiriath-arba.blogspot.com/2007/01/big-surpr ise-drm-not-about-piracy.html [blogspot.com]

        -stormin
      • by rizzo420 (136707)
        there's a venue here in providence, AS220 [as220.org], that only allows original music.

        from their site:

        Will you book our cover band?

        No. AS220 aims to support original music. In addition, as of November 1st, 2004, a boycott of all music licensed by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC is in effect. This means that all material performed at AS220 must be original or must be in the public domain. Please contact the office if you need clarification on this policy.

        so, not all venues are the same. AS220 hosts a huge variety of music of all genres and the shows are always cheap (no more than $9 i think), the beer is cheap (and they got some good beers there), and the space is nice. the music is almost always worth listening to. many of the artists that have gone through there got there start at AS220 and went on to more regional and sometimes national recognition (sage franci

      • Not saying it would be a perfect solution, but the best way to get shows in big cities is work with a promoter. There are usually only one or two that handle bookings for most all the venues that an original band would want to play. The venues don't take calls from indies usually, because the promoter essentially guarantees a great show [or at least a lot of warm bodies who will show up] and the venue doesn't need to deal with the hassle.

        IMExperience, the clubs that want cover bands and don't have promoters
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CyberSnyder (8122)
      There are a couple local bands that I like and have seen at free outdoor concerts. I've even bought their CDs twice after already buying a copy previously because I don't mind the money going to the artist. Then pass on the CD to someone who might be interested. With those guys, I would be less likely to rip their music to MP3 and give it to someone because it's more personal. I'd be "stealing" from the guys that I talked to.
      • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:41PM (#18183222) Homepage Journal
        Exactly! The cost to manufacture a nice CD, sticker and a T-shirt for a band is around $8 in low quantity. The fan is usually willing to pay up to $25-$30 for the merch. Sell 20 sets a show and do 90 shows a year is about $30k in profit -- not including door entry share, beer share or up front money from promoters. It isn't great money, but it is decent enough to do what you love doing in one of the MOST competitive markets in the US. I know quite a few "professional" touring bands that share 6-figures a year between their 4/5 band members, but they're touring constantly -- and they love doing it.
    • by postbigbang (761081) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:38PM (#18183174)
      There are the arguments that say that data wants to be free. Go to Memphis, Nashville, LA, London, NYC, and find some great lyricists whose copyrights earned them a few bucks for some long and hard work.

      I have no problem with the argument that the system is broken, and that Indie bands have little to no chance of success based on the model used by the media megaliths. Yet you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater by arguing that copyrights shouldn't exist. As a writer, I expect to get paid for my work, just like the baker down the street, the cop at the corner, and so on. If all I wrote didn't return any money, I wouldn't write for a living-- there would be no living.

      As a musician, I went out on the road, snoring in the band bus, tried to stay sober, and be musically creative and deliver what I was paid for-- good music, sometimes really great music. I knew that the record companies were highly unlikely to buy into us because we were out on the edge. We cut numerous tapes, CDs, and so on. A few adventurous and kind people bought them. But we also knew they weren't for subsistence-- our time on stage was what we were being paid for.

      Now that there are distribution channels, we found two bands that took two of our songs and essentially dry-ripped them. We have recourse if we want to sue. They haven't made any money with the songs, either (I'm not surprised, nor is my ego bashed). If they had, we'd be likely to want to stop them for the theft they made of our hard work.

      There's the gigs, where we made money. There's the media, where we made money, all outside of the 'system'. If we'd done things differently, we might be working for the devil (I mean Sony/BMG/etc) and expecting much different ends to our work. But realistically, we know that's not possible.

      Your single solution set doesn't fit all cases. Copyright has justification. DRM is probably a bad idea, because we might be interested in spreading our music far and wide. It's not necessarily a given that bands need or want to do this. Sure, we'd all like some fame, but we're not narcissistic. We'd rather just live, eat, and create. You place too much emphasis on distribution in the same sense that consumerism is a double-edged sword.
      • by PitaBred (632671)
        Just make sure that none of your music has the same riffs as other songs. Copyright has some justification, but not to the level it's been taken. All art is built on what came before it, on our perceptions of our world and other art. To have harsh copyright laws is to deny that truth. Imagine what would have happened to most Disney movies if copyright had existed on Cinderella and other stories they ripped off.
    • You are damn right.

      Having DRM-free music to download is nice. But practically all music on so-called "piracy" file-sharing is DRM-free. So what?

      What we need is not to find workarounds and be okay with the crumbs that fall from the mouth of **AA. We need instead to stop actively all this "piracy" demonization, and to make sure that the free, non-profit sharing of information (bits) becomes absolutely legal. I hope one day "piracy" will be a word reminescent of a primitive, embarrassing past just like "nigg

    • by cayenne8 (626475)
      "Small bands have no real reason for either -- recording music is just a marketing process to try to get people to come to your shows....Small bands need to give their recorded music away freely online in order to get more people to come to their shows..."

      Wow..sounds like the 'old' days when I grew up, but, wasn't small bands doing it...all the bands did this. We used to buy their albums, usually a group of us agreeing to each buy different ones, and trade them to make tape copies. But, this basically whe

  • Who has time? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HBI (604924) <kparadine@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:54PM (#18182606) Homepage Journal
    I certainly don't have time to listen to 100 bad tunes to find one good one.

    I need filtering, or i'm just going to keep on listening to Zeppelin.
    • Re:Who has time? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drooling-dog (189103) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:00PM (#18182700)
      The major labels do perform the filtering service for you, but you'd be amazed at how much excellent stuff gets filtered out. Over the last 10 years or so I've been able to expose myself to a lot of music from all over the world that I didn't even know existed back when I was a slave to the majors, and it pisses me off that I didn't discover it earlier. Your favorite music? Probably you haven't heard it yet...
      • by pkbarbiedoll (851110) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:14PM (#18182884)
        In today's glossed over vapid music climate artists like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and many others would not be taken seriously by the majors. I can hear it now.. Not marketable. Too nasally. Screams too much. Won't sell enough product. Not worth our investment.
        • In today's glossed over vapid music climate artists like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and many others would not be taken seriously by the majors. I can hear it now.. Not marketable. Too nasally. Screams too much. Won't sell enough product. Not worth our investment.
          Sounds like a great business opportunity for someone who wants to start their own up-and-coming major picking up all these gems that the real majors ignore.
           
        • by rizzo420 (136707)
          you're correct. just look at american idol creator, simon cowel, for that. he made a comment that he finds bob dylan to be boring. while dylan isn't a pop artist by any means, his music and songs are certainly far from boring.

          the major labels won't even promote someone who's really ugly, even if he/she has an amazing voice, writes perfect songs, and plays awesome guitar. little girls won't scream and cry over someone that ugly. that's how we ended up with john mayer... so-so voice, mediocre song writin
      • it's sociological (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MarsBar (6605)

        The problem isn't that the unsigned unknown music is bad, or that there's too much of it to find the good stuff. It's a sociological thing: I want to hear what my friends are hearing so we can say "do you have the latest XYZ album" or whatever. There's probably a scientific word for it but I'm not a sociologist!

        It doesn't really matter how good the major labels' tunes are, whatever gets played on the radio will become a hit. This has been shown many many times, with a few rare exceptions of underground hi

        • by glamslam (535995)
          I absolutely agree. Popular music is as much about music as it is about people and culture. I still think a world will exist where you and your friends will talk about the latest hit song. But soon it will be an independent artist distributed through something like "radio" but not controlled by only a handful of corporations. Look at last.fm, ilike, pandora, etc... This is the next wave (I hope).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lord Ender (156273)

          There's probably a scientific word for it but I'm not a sociologist!

          It's a memetic phenomenon. Memetics, however, is a science, unlike sociology.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by njh (24312)
            Memetics, however, is a science, unlike sociology.
            It's no more scientific than sociology. For a start, nobody has come up with a robust definition for a meme, it's just waffle. Genetics have things like DNA which are a repeatably measurable and remarkably useful natural encoding. memes, as far as I know, are nothing more than a vague idea of an idea which is transmissible.
      • by Otter (3800)
        The major labels do perform the filtering service for you, but you'd be amazed at how much excellent stuff gets filtered out.

        I think his point is that this particular site (which hasn't emerged from under the Slashdotting, so I have no idea if it's true) doesn't provide any filtering. As opposed to GarageBand, Live365, Pandora, LastFM and all sorts of other routes to finding new music.

        • <quote><i>The major labels do perform the filtering service for you, but you'd be amazed at how much excellent stuff gets filtered out.</i> <p><p>I think his point is that this particular site (which hasn't emerged from under the Slashdotting, so I have no idea if it's true) doesn't provide any filtering. As opposed to GarageBand, Live365, Pandora, LastFM and all sorts of other routes to finding new music.</p></quote>

          <p>
          From the Whois entry (sin
      • Right. So....what's your solution to the parent?

        You never answered the question except to say that the record companies DID do some filtering for him and they missed a bunch of stuff. Great. I am not surprised at all. But it still doesn't solve his predicament.

        Who's going to do the filtering/moderating of internet/indie music? Where is a solid "Top 40" or other chart (like Billboard)? Please, tell me. I really do want to know because unless it changes, I whole-heartedly agree with the parent:
    • "...listen to 100 bad tunes to find one good one."

      I put it to you that this is no different than radio, with the difference that it seems to me that 100 songs is the entire live catalog of a pop station at any given time.

      May I recommend
      http://www.jamendo.com/ [jamendo.com]

      They have an embeddable player, ratings, everything you need. No DRM anywhere in sight; in fact most of the music is free to share
      • by citog (206365)
        Thanks, looks interesting so I'm going to have a poke around their collection and see how it works out ...
    • Don't be silly. Zeppelin are on a major label, therefore they suck. If they were any good then no one would have heard of them and they'd be playing to six art school students in a disused lavatory in the basement of an old boot-black factory somewhere.
      • by Fordiman (689627)
        Yeah, seriously.

        For example, my own band is know to exactly three of my brain cells, thereby making it the most obscure and therefore the best band EVAR.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      http://www.last.fm/ [www.last.fm] anyone?
      • by chochos (700687)
        Exactly what I was going to recommend... I like last.fm because you can look for bands similar to the ones you already know and love. You can discover interesting music that way. I use Yamipod to upload the info of what I listen to on my iPod and after a while the site has enough info to recommend stuff to me. I've listened to a couple of indie bands that way and I've liked them.

        Pandora.com is a similar service, not as complete though. But you can specify a band or even a record or a song, and it builds a p
      • last.fm works for me - and it's a surprisingly good alternative to the "real human doing the filtering" (e.g. John Peel, as mentioned above).

        To take an example - one of the few radio music shows that I listen to is John Kelly's on RTE (http://www.rte.ie/lyricfm/thejkensemble/). There's a lot of crossover between the stuff that he plays that I haven't heard before and like and the stuff that last.fm plays (and I haven't heard before and like). How John Kelly chose to put out Keith Jarrett's Cologne concert
    • by slim (1652)

      I certainly don't have time to listen to 100 bad tunes to find one good one.

      I need filtering, or i'm just going to keep on listening to Zeppelin.

      Don't we all, don't we all.

      But some people do have time: proper, music oriented, DJs.
      I'm talking about people like the late lamented John Peel, his BBC semi-replacement Huw Stephens, and many of the good people at Seatte's wonderful KEXP.

      Now, Peel was broadcasting bands' self-issued vinyl releases back when that was the most open way of distributing your own music -- he'd read out the addresses of the homes where people had stacks of 7" singles waiting to ship out by mail order. This was stuff you couldn't

      • by jimicus (737525)
        I'm talking about people like the late lamented John Peel

        Now that is very true. A legend in his own lifetime. He must have listened to loads of crap, as you say - but the difference was that was his entire livelihood, so he did have the time to do it.
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      I don't have time to listen to 100 bands and filter out the good ones but I have time to listen to a few bands. So all you need is a centralized rating system somewhere. I found several great bands on mp3.com that way back before they screwed up with that my.mp3.com thing and got sued down the toilet.
    • by greginnj (891863)

      And how did you find out about Zeppelin, exactly?

      Why don't you just keep doing that?

      It's ok if you want to get off the find-new-music train, but don't blame it on the music. Blame it on your unwillingness to put a bit of effort in your search technique. One of those streaming recommendation services like http://pandora.com/ [pandora.com] should be within the means of even a lazy old fart such as yourself....
      • by HBI (604924)
        Actually my brother used to bring home a 12-pack of Lowenbrau every night back in the late 70s-early 80s. I'd hang out in the basement with him drinking beer and he'd play me new stuff.

        Later, I had a few friends who would bring over stuff that they found good and we'd do the same thing (but with better beer).

        I'm starting to get a little old for that. I get recommendations from friends and I act on them still, but not as many, and not as good anymore.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "And how did you find out about Zeppelin, exactly?

        Why don't you just keep doing that?"

        I heard them on the RADIO....

        Once upon a time they were new, and cutting edge....and you were able to hear that kind of music on your popular, mainstream, free-to-air radio station. Back then, they let the DJ's program much of their own music, and you got a very diverse selection of music throught the day. The first album rock stations that came online back when I was a teen...proved to be a great place to hear new an

    • BBC Radio 3 [bbc.co.uk] has some very good avant-guarde stuff on it; it's not all classical.

      Check out [bbc.co.uk] Late Junction, Mixing It, Hear and Now, in particular. Their Jazz is pretty cool too, if you like that kind of thing.

      I don't know if they stream outside the UK, but I imagine that they must; Radio 3 is part of an ex-pat's staple diet...

    • by Paladin144 (676391) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @03:03PM (#18184458) Homepage
      I certainly don't have time to listen to 100 bad tunes to find one good one.

      This is an excellent point and it's been bothering me for years. I actually used to listen to dozens of bands to try and find a good one. I've found a lot of gems, but had to wade through a lot of stinkers to do so. (I would download the entire SXSW bittorrent compilation and start wading through. The keeper ratio was approximately 10 (bad) to 1 (good) overall.

      What we need is a Digg (or /.-style moderation) for music. On a track-by-track basis. Digg has a music section, but that's for music news, and MySpace has shitloads of bands, but it's not good for aggregating the good tunes from the bad (and it's slow, ugly and full of useless crap). Last.fm is closest to this ideal, but they're still more about tracking listening habits and they haven't added too many ways for unknown bands to get heard. They do have a label/artist signup section and some free downloads, but it's not integrated into the site very well yet. Garageband.com is good for finding cool tunes as well, but writing reviews can be a real chore.

      I'm hoping for improvement here, but in the meantime, I'd really like to see a simple, clean site in the style of digg that allows people to vote either yay or nay for songs (which could easily be listened to via a simple Flash interface). Songs could be categorized individually by genre (meaning a band is not restricted to one style) and popular songs make the home page. Popular does not equal good, so people would have the chance to drill down to genres they like, and block songs from bands that they know suck (and vice versa, like a karma bonus for bands that rule).

      Anybody want to make this? You'll make millions of dollars. I can't code for shit or I'd do it. It's not even a unique or novel idea. I'm kinda surprised that it hasn't been done yet. Is there a problem I'm not aware of here?

      Fuck the majors, this should be a resource for up and coming bands and listeners who want to find good bands without having to listen to all the crappy ones. Oh, and the songs should be downloadable, too. MP3, FLAC or Ogg format. I know that my band would submit our music to such a site in a heartbeat.

  • Freakin Balloons (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gamepro (859021)
    If I have to fight with a balloon to navigate a site then it's not worth my effort.
  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:57PM (#18182654) Homepage Journal
    download what you like

    I went to the site linked, and found that the only way to select music was by the artist's name. Considering that I didn't recognize a single artist, this left me totally in the dark as to what the musical genre was, and the only way that you could get a sense of the musical genre was to select each artist, one by one, where sometimes a note would tell you - but often not.

    I would be more than willing to support a site like this if they make it reasonably easy. Even Wham-a-lart takes the time to sort music by genre so shoppers don't have to weed through all the styles they don't like to find something to listen to.

    When they get the genre thing figured out, track preview and sale by track are the next items required to get them up to the bare-bones standards of online music sales.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Small indie labels really need some kind of recommendation system. Genres aren't enough. What really needs to happen is indie labels should band together and set up something like Pandora, but designed for their own marketing. Like, maybe you start by entering in some bands that you like, and it starts recommending some songs. As you hear songs, you give them a "yes" or "no", and it tries to refine the selection based on that. If you find something you really like, the site gives you a link to download

  • I've downloaded a fair amount of music from them -- they have some interesting non-mainstream artists. They ask for $8, but they'll take as little as $5. Download in many formats, lossy and lossless.
  • by 0racle (667029) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:00PM (#18182690)
    Well duh, it's the easiest to pirate.
  • by sulli (195030) * on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:00PM (#18182702) Journal
    this music is difficult to find because there is simply TOO much of it

    Sounds like something Yogi Berra [baseball-almanac.com] would say. As in "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."

  • Couldn't Agree More (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jeevesbond (1066726)
    Hear, hear! I couldn't agree more!

    This is the reason why big labels are finding themselves to be irrelevant, why should we buy manufactured pop-cruft that's encumbered with DRM when a much better alternative is available?

    Let's ditch these money-grabbing middle men by voting with our wallets. The only thing missing is a good online community for upcoming bands. Something like music charts (but better and more community driven), which will show the best bands in each genre.

    The next triumph will be when an uns
    • Already happened. [jonathancoulton.com] In a recent interview, the recently signed band The Dresden Dolls disclosed they were making about $1500 a month touring. Jonathan Coulton, who released his music on his website where you can buy it with no DRM, is making more than that.

  • ...have got it right [myspace.com]. And they have a good sense of humor [myspace.com] too. My fave is currently Whatever [myspace.com].
  • by nomad63 (686331) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:03PM (#18182744)
    The DRM free content available to download legitimately, usually is not even worth the time you sift thru them to find the one piece that you can barely tolerate among 100s of trash metal bands (I am speaking of music only here but it can be stretched to cover any art form) who thinks louder they play better it is, or some talentless hack, who thinks whatever he/she plays is instant classic.

    On the other hand, we have the metallicas for heavy metal and Beatles for classic pieces, yet they are crippled by DRM and I really do not want to waste my time or my money to be able to listen to them on two different platforms, i.e., on my iPod and on my non-itunes ready computer.

    Am I asking too much after paying $1 to a single song ? In what justification can the IP owner can ask me to pay for the same thing twice ?
    • by garcia (6573)
      The DRM free content available to download legitimately, usually is not even worth the time you sift thru them to find the one piece that you can barely tolerate among 100s of trash metal bands (I am speaking of music only here but it can be stretched to cover any art form) who thinks louder they play better it is, or some talentless hack, who thinks whatever he/she plays is instant classic.

      dimeadozen.org [dimeadozen.org] offers quite a wide array. Here's a sample from the two pages of torrents:

      OASIS - First Time Out 2000
  • Emusic (Score:5, Informative)

    by Conception (212279) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:03PM (#18182752)
    I've been using emusic for months now and though I'm not super big into the indie scene, they always surprise me with some interesting stuff. They also have a pretty aggressive writing team that gives no end to recommendations on what you should check out.

    They have free 50 download trials all over the place. Worth checking out and all DRM free mp3s. It's a great service and one we should be supporting.
    • by stu42j (304634)
      Actually you can easily 100 free:

      http://www.google.com/search?q=emusic+100+free [google.com]

      BTW, there is also http://audiolunchbox.com/ [audiolunchbox.com] if you are not into the subscription plan.
    • by syphax (189065)

      I like eMusic too. Don't love, but like.

      They have tons and tons of good stuff, but also an equal or greater amount of stuff I don't like. They offer a variety of mechanisms to try to hone in to whatever suits you, but I still find that trial and error takes more time than I would like. That said, I'll take search cost over DRM any day.

      Also, if you don't download all of your songs in a month, they go away (no rollover). That's a little miserly, I think.
  • The problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:06PM (#18182780) Journal
    Most of these are unsigned bands. Bands are unsigned, or signed to an obscure label for any of 3 reasons:
    1. They're rubbish.
    2. They don't want to sell out.
    3. They're too damn original for the major labels to take a risk.

    Types 2 and 3 are probably very worthwhile. They're greatly outnumbered by type 1.
    • by tobiasly (524456)
      I will agree that finding worthwhile music on EMusic may be a bit more difficult than other sites, but it's not impossible. Their sample clips work very well, and once you find some stuff you like they have plenty of ways to branch out, such as listing others' playlists that have that same music, or finding similar music that is highly rated by users.

      I was never much of a fan of indie music but after playing around a bit on EMusic I'm finding that there are some great tracks on there, you just need to spend
  • emusic.com (Score:3, Informative)

    by rueger (210566) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:11PM (#18182848) Homepage
    Once again I praise e-music.com [emusic.com] for a really great range of music, great prices, and a pretty good user experience. And no DRM.

    You won't find The Eagles or Brittney or other Top 40 stuff, but if you're the least bit adventurous* in your tastes it's well worth a look.

    * Johnny Cash, James Brown, African music, Bjork etc...

  • The RIAA et.al. aren't merely trying to prevent infringement of their own copyrights; they're afraid of open digital distribution channels even when these are used to distribute music whose copyright (or absense thereof) legally permits it. Their bread and butter is in their monopoly control of distribution, and they're acutely aware of this. Even in a world where they have their "perfect DRM" (whatever that is), P2P, BitTorrent, YouTube, and artist-controlled websites would still be a huge threat to them.
  • I bought the Bare Naked Ladies' new albums on USB key, called Bare Naked on a Stick. The USB memory key is of low quality, but I eventually got it into a port just right that I could copy the MP3s and videos off of it, and saved money over buying the CDs in the store.

    I wish more bands used this distribution technique, but they need to use better quality USB sticks.
  • I just ripped a CD to WMP that I'd burned from iTunes. Actually didn't try playing it cuz had to run to work, but is that not possible?
    • Re:What DRM (Score:4, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:47PM (#18183304) Homepage Journal

      I just ripped a CD to WMP that I'd burned from iTunes. Actually didn't try playing it cuz had to run to work, but is that not possible?

      Congratulations! You've just taken a lossy audio format, and transcoded it into a totally different lossy audio format, with an unnecessary step in the middle provided by Apple. You have caused the quality to degrade significantly; most of the tones in the music will come through okay, but some will be completely trashed. Anything approximating a square wave (any kind of funk groove usually has some of this) will be utterly destroyed. Most of your highest highs will end up completely distorted as well.

      This stupid argument about burning and re-ripping is, well, stupid. And yet someone brings it up every time this discussion happens.

  • by Wintermancer (134128) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:27PM (#18183022)
    By this I mean, go on tour.

    The Police tour is coming to town, and I am going to be handing over fist-fulls of cash in order to see them play live. But you're not going to see me buying their mp3's, as I already own all of their works. I'll just rip 'em, thank you please.

    I really do not buy CD's anymore, partly due to the fact that I no longer wish to directly support the RIAA hedgemony, and partly due to the fact that I live in Canada and pay a levy on blank recording media (Handing money over twice just doesn't do it for me, thanks).

    CDs, and music in general, should be viewed as a loss-leader to get people in to see them perform. I honestly feel that the days of rock musicians living like kings are pretty much over, with the exception of top-tier talent. It is not to say that they will not be able to earn a living, it just will be more akin to the professional musicians that you see in the classical and jazz sphere, which if you are any good, is a decent wage. If you're not any good, that's the economy saying, "It's time to get a real job."

    Simply stated, I have to work to live, why should someone write songs and do nothing more than live off of royalties? Musicians work should be their ability to perform, not their ability cash royalty cheques. The performance driven model also would have the added effect of cutting out the no-talent publicity-machine generated "stars" who cannot play an instrument, rely upon production tricks to sound good singing, etc.

    I pay to see you play. Do a good job, and you too can charge $200+/ticket and I will hand over my money willingly and without complaint.

    It's not that hard, people.

    • by Brummund (447393)
      Simply stated, I have to work to live, why should someone write songs and do nothing more than live off of royalties?

      Or why do we got interest on loans or heck, even a stock market. Its a free world. Come up with some good music of your own, buy DRM-less music or just enjoy the silence.

      I got to wonder from where the bands are to get the funds to do these huge tours, really. Have you ANY idea how expensive and risky a tour can be? Do you want all musicians to be pub entertainers? Do you think all music is
      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        Why even have a free market? Why not get all on a state payroll?

        A Free market operates by supply and demand - something that is completely and utterly destroyed by the very notion of copyright. Non-tangible works have in infinite supply, but laws are put into place to recreate artificial restrictions on it. When I go to work if I setup a server that handles email, I don't get to go home, never come to work again, yet still get paid because the email server I setup is still there and working. And that's entirely right. If I want to keep getting a check I should have

      • I'm not jealous.

        Please produce the royalty cheques that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach cashed, and I'll consider this argument closed.

        In any marketplace, the cream will rise to the top. Any decent band will get noticed by those who want to profit off of them, and is willing to undertake marketing and promoting said product. That is the free market at its finest. Much like athletes, actors, corporate consultants, etc. If you have talent, someone, somewhere, will find a way to make money of
    • CDs, and music in general, should be viewed as a loss-leader to get people in to see them perform.

      Unfortunately, right now most musicians consider live gigs to be a loss-leader in order to get people to buy their CDs. How exactly are they to make money if the CDs are to be a loss-leader too? I'm not The Police, and I'll never be able to command those ticket prices.

      HAL.

    • by aesiamun (862627)
      The problem i have with live shows is this:

      I've been to a bunch of shows, Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and Digweed, Chemical Brothers, NIN, and many more lately. But I've also been to shows from other styles: Guster, They might be Giants, etc.

      Here's my problem...some shows are excellent, Sasha and Digweed, Chemical Brothers, Paul Oakenfold are great live. You know why? They attract a certain style of concert goers. TMBG does as well.

      NIN, Guster, almost any band that gets any form of current local radio play, t
      • by aesiamun (862627)
        Oh and also, I think the style of musician makes a difference too. NIN, Guster just aren't like they used to be. Guster lost it's flair to me when they stopped using hand drums and added another band member. NIN just may not make a great live show.

        Oakenfold, S&D, Chemical Brothers, etc don't have to worry about vocals so much, they concentrate on the music, the lighting, the sounds that come at you from all directions. Maybe that's what makes me enjoy them more. TMBG is just damned fun live.
  • by Have Blue (616) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:29PM (#18183066) Homepage
    The reason people ignore DRM-free music while simultaneously complaining about DRMed music from EMI isn't that they're ignorant or hypocrites- it's that they want the music EMI is selling. Maybe you're after some classic rock act that signed up to a label before not doing so was even an option. Maybe you actually like music that shows up on the pop charts. You can't just say "listen to this instead" and expect an identical experience. Music isn't a commodity that one can simple switch to a different supplier of on a whim; each band is unique and there's personal taste involved. There are dozens of Led Zeppelin cover bands and hundreds of bands with a similar sound, but there's only one Zep and only one place to legally get it from.
    • by koreth (409849)
      You've nailed it in my case. Most of the music I'm buying these days isn't in genres that are well represented on Emusic or any of the all-the-electric-guitar-and-electronica-you-can-e a t sites. And no, not because I'm buying Britney Spears albums -- my last purchase was an import CD of early 20th century recordings of Chinese folk music, to give you some idea.

      If you like listening to trance or house music, you have been overflowing in DRM-free purchase options for years already. If you like alternative r

  • by gsfprez (27403) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:34PM (#18183124)
    if i like a band - like DMB - i buy the CDs now.

    Even itunes has become a PITA when i want to make an MP3 CD for my car. I've decided i'm no longer going to buy from iTunes until i can convert the songs into mp3 in 1 step.

    Remember - everything that the lables are telling you is bullshit when it comes to DRM - because they sell ALL of their music RIGHT NOW DRM-Free.... At WalMart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon, etc.

    All Steve Jobs asked for was to have the same ability the CD-selling stores have - the ability to sell music DRM-free. Absolutely nothing different.
  • What about something like pandora for DRM free music? That way users could quickly be steered in the direction of music that they are likely to enjoy...
  • We had it, it was before DRM existed in any practical sense. I found new good artists, downloaded for free. If I liked it, I payed for it.

    Not suprisingly, it was soon crushed by the big record companies.
    Slowly they added their craptacular artists sample tracks, artificially inflated their ratings and drowned out the indipendants.
    Then when it was so lame and no one used anymore they killed it

    Classic embrace, extend, extinguish maneuver.
  • I agree with everybody who says the problem with all the DRM-free music by unsigned bands is that most of it is crap. Sturgeon's Law strikes again.

    The solution, I've found, is to find an MP3 blog by somebody whose taste you share. That way, they will do the filtering for you. Personally, I'm a big fan of 3Hive [3hive.com]. A couple times a week, they post free MP3s made available by bands who want publicity. But they listen to all MP3s before posting them, and only post stuff they think is worth listening to. They h
  • If you're complaining about major labels not releasing material, it's probably too late and you are part of the problem.

    We shalt bow beforee thy knees, my master.
     
  • Unfortunately this music is difficult to find because there is simply so much of it.

    The problem with Web 2.0 thinking is that they insist having lots of metadata allows for a suitable means of editing -- it does not.

    Web 2.0's metadata does help accentuate the positive, but Johnny Mercer's formula for success asks us to eliminate the negative. Right now, all Web 2.0 allows us to do is de-emphasise it, which isn't halfway good enough.

    HAL.

  • I perfer music that doesn't suck. SO let me know when the music I like is DRM free. thxkbye.
  • by purduephotog (218304) <hirschNO@SPAMinorbit.com> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:12PM (#18183718) Homepage Journal
    Pop rock, rap, Indie scene, punk... No thank you.

    I haven't bought music in a long while except used CDs off of ebay. Why? Because there is no such thing as DRM and Classical music. There is NO market for this- and MP3'd material is present poorly at 128kbps instead of 384kbps/vbr. Why would I waste my money (if it was offered) to purchase music that spans the complete tonal and then chop it down to inferior quality?

    The Bach Partita #2 is a very-often recorded piece. Amazon lists 657 different 'featured' artists that have CDs with that search term. I own 5 different versions of the same music, on CD,- Jascha Heifetz, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, and two others I can't recall off the top of my head. You don't have this issue with 'mainstream' music- there aren't 300 different bands trying to record the same music Red Hot Chili Peppers has done- and provide their own artistic interpretations of it.

    So I sit and watch the DRM debate with saddened eyes- the music I want will never be offered... and there's nothing I can do about it (Classical Nerds UNITE!... not gonna happen).

  • DRM is not only imposed by mangling files, it can also be imposed by the vendor. Recently I ran across the problem of territory restrictions on Beatport. Live in the USA? Sorry! You can't purchase this music due to territory restriction. The same occurs on eMusic for certain tracks in other countries, and probably on other services.

    This is DRM, but in another form (a server-side check). Online distribution should not be restricted by territory - it makes sense only in the "offline" world where I guess distr
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ionsahmaet}> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:14PM (#18183754) Homepage Journal
    If you haven't noticed, my band is called The Schmoejoes [theschmoejoes.com]. We give everything away, DRM free. Why would we add a obstacle to someone who might be interested in the only indie-pop band in southern Minnesota [theschmoejoes.com]? There's two kinds of bands concerning DRM, the old school ones which are somehow oblivious to the changing 'biz', and use DRM to protect their songs - and the ones that saw the writing on the wall when they downloaded their first mp3. The days of rock stars are done - when you can taste an album before you buy it, you don't have to take a chance that the 'rest of the songs suck'.

    We're going to be releasing a record by the end of the year (old school), and will be posting most if not all online (new school). I still have reservations, because I grew up the old way, but I'm fighting through them.

    One of the issues in all of this is getting the word out. DRM free music lets people email you a tune, "Check this out!" When my pal tried to email a track he bought from the iTunes store to me, I couldn't open it (our first real case of DRM).

    He threw it into Protools and got an unprotected version - but notably, he won't do that anymore. It's a pain. So, any other bands he might have turned me or others on to go unheard. But, they 'protected their content', right?

    I agree with some /.ers; people need a filter to find what they are interested in - MySpace is full of crap, and some gems, and it's not like anybody's going to accidentally come to my site, say 'Wow, I love this' [theschmoejoes.com], and then fly to Mankato, MN to see us. Hell, at this point you need a filter to filter the sites that filter the music.

    Great music that is DRM free IS everywhere, it's just that it is still harder to find than the tunes Clear Channel wants you to hear - and that is probably the biggest difference between the little indie-pop band [theschmoejoes.com] and 'Insert Major Label Band here' - marketing. Familiarity is the thing that every band needs, and DRM Doesn't Really Matter when you've got millions of dollars pushing your flavor of the week.

    So yeah. Click on my link, listen to the couple songs up there, come to a show. This link-filled post is all the marketing budget I have today. :)
  • Sweet Irony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nanojath (265940) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @02:19PM (#18183800) Homepage Journal
    Ah yes, the article about how available the DRM free music takes 10 minutes to load before Slashdot runs up a hundred comments. It nicely illustrates the point: it is not about availability. Every decent sized town in America has a dozen hometown favorites who play out often, go on regular, modest tours, and have a handful of solid, professional CD releases that can stand up to 90% of what's on the Billboard 100 at any given time. They never had the "luck" or were a little too attached to their quirks to make a major label deal, or they decided it wasn't really worth it. They are working musicians supporting their families and local economies and I'd rather give them my money any day of the week than some vacuous, entitled little shit who's ClearChannel's flavor od the month. And they are virtually unknown outside their local community. If you're fan of local shows I bet several names popped into head just from that description. If they're smart you can probably find their music online, either independent or CD Baby, and on eMusic. I bet there are tens of thousands of U.S. bands that fit this profile, probably hundreds of thousands if not millions worldwide. Add to that the "long tail" of hobby, avocation or quirk artists who nonetheless have a few solid tracks a lot of people might pay a nickel or a quarter for, and you've got a catalog no individual could ever tap out. In a way, fixating on trying to transform the distribution model for the tiny population of major label stable pros (getting smaller every year) is laughably the wrong approach.

    The problem is filtering. I keep looking at that eMusic trial offer and thinking, man, how much time am I going to have to spend getting my money's worth out of that? If they had a built-in, fast working Pandora plug in so I could simply and accurately calibrate my mainstream preferences to their catalog? I would be on that today.

    The problem is payment strategies. A dollar for a song is BS and micropayments have been pretty BS up to now too. Subscriptions make a lot of people skeevy. This should not be as complicated as it is.

    The problem is dispersion. There are fifty million little this and that sites. That does not work. Independent artists who want to sell piecemeal tracks and not require people have a subscription to eMusic - desperately need a solution. The technology for delivering bits is not complicated. The technology for accepting money is not complicated. Social networking and community-driven filtering and moderation aren't the future, they are the RIGHT NOW. This is a get-in-on-the-ground-floor Google type opportunity, man.

    God, that pie in the sky looks so del.icio.us. Ahem, gotta wipe these starts out of my eyes. Okay, well, if anybody takes up the cause, you know, I'm available for visionary consultation and next gen viral marketeering (not to self: no electronics on bridges)! Call me! (Man, why did I study chemistry instead of computers?)

    Oh, and regarding that Nettwerk Store link (once it finally loaded)... You want me to use Real to preview, this is how you make your point? Come the fuck on. My Grandma has a simple, browser-agnostic preview player built into her website. Well, okay, that's not true but still. Bye bye, Hello Love.
  • Check out AmieStreet [amiestreet.com]. Artists upload their tunes, and the price for each track is a function of how popular it is. All tracks are DRM-free. Many excellent tracks are also free-as-in-beer free (until they get popular, anyway).

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