clap clap blog: we have moved

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
MP3blog fite! I know it's like a week out of date now, but let me just add one thing that for some reason did not seem to get said...

What Paul and a few others were trying to do was not make an argument on the basis of morality. Rachel is right that this is not a defensible position to take in this context. What they were making, instead (which was good to hear, given the by-now played-out arguments over the morality of downloading), was an argument on the basis of practicality. As is pointed out, labels do tolerate and even encourage MP3blogs, because it is good publicity. But this support is clearly conditional and tenuous, even if that's never explicitly stated by either party.

So Paul's argument, aside from the general subjective rip on Scenestars, was made because he doesn't want to see MP3blogs go away. His point was that if you do shit like this, record companies will stop tolerating the practice of allowing MP3blogs to post tracks from unreleased albums, because it will start to cross the line between promoting an album and giving it away. One song is an acceptable loss leader; three or four starts to get murky, and anything past that--which, if you don't do what Paul did and try and nip the problem in the bud, will start to happen, I guarantee you--will start to bring cease and desist letters. And these are different from a simple request to take things down--these are legal fines, legal matters. These hurt. Ask Kottke. The phrase at hand is "chiling effect."

Even if you've been explicitly told by a PR person that it's OK to post three tracks, it's up to you to use your personal judgment not to, because unless you explicitly state that these tracks are up with the encouragement of the director of marketing at Elektra--which wouldn't look good, given the general image of an MP3blogger, right?--some other blog is going to get the idea that it's OK to do this with any album, whether or not you've gotten explicit permission. Ultimately, whether or not giving away a significant portion of an album is good or bad for an artist isn't the issue--the issue is that this would be bad for MP3blogs. They're clearly not going to last forever, but we all have an interest in ensuring that they last as long as possible, and I think Paul's point was made in service of this goal.

UPDATE: Ah, I see that Paul's just said pretty much what I just said. So, uh, never mind.