[TypicalGirls] FW: You Can Download Dolly Mixture Stuff Here...

pascale amzallou pascaleamz at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 5 06:06:02 EDT 2005


Daniel wrote:

> I've debated both sides of this endlessly, but an
> interesting question is, does downloading kill the
> interest in reissuing? To a certain degree, I
> believe it does. Actually, not so much downloading,
but
> bootlegging. 

Well, two different things.  Bootlegging is actually
pretty
rare and totally different to what Mike was talking
about.
An important point that no one seems to really think
about is that there is substantially more indie
postpunk
material from say 1978 to 1983 available RIGHT NOW
then there was at the time.  By "available" I mean,
that a
person have/had a credible chance of finding it.

FOUR Josef K CDs?
DOUBLE CD reissues of "Live At The Which Trials," 
"Three Imaginary Boys," "The Scream" and others?

You get the idea.

MANY artists from that era have tons more of their
work
from that time in print and accessible than existed at
the time - the Fall, the Buzzcocks, most of the bands
on
Factory, Rough Trade and so on.  It's been absolute
reissue MANIA for the past decade.  Just look at Acute
Records - exponentially expanding the output of 
artists from that era, such as the Prefects (who
actually
had no records released during their lifespan), 
Theoretical Girls (one single, I think) and so on.

In fact, I think it's pretty unusual for the a
postpunk
artist/band from that time period *not* to have at
least
the majority of their output available, and often to
have
lots of extra things out now too - unreleased tunes, 
live albums, radio sessions, and so on.  Sometimes 
things fall out of print (Fire Engines, This Heat),
but
I reckon they'll be back in print at some point.

Pretty much any artist with any credibility from the 
past can have a selection of labels from which to 
choose to issue their old stuff.  Labels are generally
pretty HUNGRY for reissue material.  This is not
unique
to postpunk either - folk stuff, reggae, dub, soul
and much more is all readily gobbled up.

We don't live in double worlds, so it's impossible to
say whether downloading helps or hinders, but the
fact that so much material is in print speaks volumes.
There was a day that you had to be Elton John or the
Rolling Stones to see your whole catalog in print.
When I was getting into music, artists such as Brian
Eno or Faust did not generally have their entire
catalogs in print ever at the same time.

As for the Desperate Bicycles, they've never been more
popular.  I guess you're largely to blame for that,
Dan!
I bought all their material and side projects when it
came out, and for years I would occasionally pick up
the odd extra single for $1 or 50¢  For years, no one
cared.  If they were to release a CD today, it would
get
better press and sell more than any point all the
way back to their working days.  So how can one say
that they've really been "hurt" - except for lost
royalties?

> Am I guilty of this? I never bought the Silver
> Apples
> and Neu! legit CDs because I own the bootleg CDs. Is
> that wrong? Yes. 

Probably, but those are unusual cases - most artists,
even those of relative stature such as Neu! do not
have
their records bootlegged.  A lot of people were under 
the impression that those bootlegs were quasi-legit or
artist sanctioned. I still suspect that on some level
they 
were.

A few years back, there was a lawsuit in France
relating
to the display of visual art.  An artist sold a
painting for
a lot of money and was not happy with the manner in
which the owner had it on the wall - the artist
thought
its positioning "demeaned" the piece.  I can't
remember
the details precisely, but there was actually a real
debate
over the extent to which an artist can control art
that 
has left his hands.

Relate this to the Desperate Bicycles and the idea of 
copyrights expiring so the work can contribute to the
overall cultural wealth of the planet.  My idea is
this -
the artist (or assigned owner, such as a label) that 
releases a work to the public also creates an
obligation.
That work becomes part of shared culture.  In essence,
the genie's out of the bottle, you can't stuff him
back
in.  I believe that the artist or assignee should have

full control of the copyright as the law allows, with
one
caveat - if a work has been out of print for a period
of
more than seven years, it becomes public a domain
work.
(There would be specifications for what "in print"
means
in relation to availability to the average consumer.)

What's my rationale?

1) It forces labels and artists to assess the artistic
and
commercial value of their work and to DO something 
about it.  No more sitting on those Fire Engines
masters,
or whatever.  Use it or lose it.  (Get up and use it!)

2) Once a work has been made public, it invariably IS
public, particularly today in the digital age.  I can
procure 
a copy of nearly any recording from the past 30 years 
that was ever for sale in public, so what's the
difference, 
really?  Artists / owners don't lose their rights to
profit 
from a work unless they blow it off.  

3) Labels who keep stuff out of print will see the
rights
to it revert to the artist, who have a year to figure
out
what to do with it.

4) Maybe, just maybe, artists will think twice about 
releasing crap that will embarrass them later!

In the case of the Desperate Bicycles, they made their
work available once upon a time.  They cannot really
"take it back" - bootleggers will fulfill the need, as
indeed
they have.

Of course, this does not apply to works that were 
never made public - so Dan's example of "Radio
Ethiopia" outtakes being bootlegged would still be a
no-no.  The artist has a say in whether their work is
released, or how it is released.  But they only have
that right once.

In real terms, this process is sort of already
happening,
what with the advent of the CD burner and cheap CD-Rs.
How many copies of This Heat or the Left Banke or
Raincoats CDs have people asked me to make for
them, as they are out of print?  I am always happy to
oblige them, because unlike the copyright holders, I
consider these artists to have artistic and cultural
value
that ought to be shared, and if the right people won't
do it, well . . .

I know a lot of people who feel the same way, and who,
like me, pass along only works intended to be released
by the artists at some point (i.e. no outtakes, live
shows, and so on) and I don't charge for them either.

I don't feel sorry for Dolly Mixture or the Desperate
Bicycles, they've made the choice to turn their backs
on
their own material and people just want to hear the
damned stuff, so what do they expect.  They may lose
royalties in the short run, but should they ever
decide
to reissue their material, they should thank those who
passed around their recordings for keeping their name
and (relative) marketability alive.  Like I mentioned,
despite a quarter century of relative silence, the 
Desperate Bikes are more popular as ever!

Pascale


		
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