Picking from the infinite bounty of Mp3 Blogs

A new love: Mp3 blogs.

    I’m knee deep in the most pleasing symptom of digital music’s rise. Quickly check out a post on Masta Ace Inc. on SoulSides, written by Oliver Wang, a thinker with some cred for an example of what I’m sick in love with.

In short, a good Mp3 blog is run by a musical curator of sorts whose field of expertise brings his visitors coming back.

Were this an mp3 blog, it would look something like this
Santogold is hot hot shit check it blah blah blah
And then poof, here’s an example: Santogold – Shuv it (v3)  [myspace]
So it’s fun, right? now on to the experience of getting these songs on your computer:

Grab First, Taste Later

    I think the first mp3 blog I stumbled on was BigStereo, a blog fueled by electro/hiphop/indie freshness. It’s highly acclaimed, and got me addicted to this whole free single track addiction I’m currently suffering from. I then found the index at MonkeyFilter.com to find some MP3 blogs to test. I got bored of having to sort through the posts (some of which are extremely bad or pretentious spoutings of obscure musical knowledge). So I looked for something to quickly download just the Mp3s without getting my feet dirty in muzakspeak.
I found SiteSucker (Mac)–a program that downloads only files you tell it to from a website. For Windows see SiteSnagger. I could download every single linked mp3 file from any of these mp3blogs in about 15 minutes, at max speed. Soon I had hundreds of songs from just a few mp3 blogs sitting neatly in a folder. Stoked was I (and slightly ashamed)– But there are better ways, I soon found out.

Tools to steal (read: try) with

Mp3 downloading has been further institutionalized with these free song players:

  • Peel (software in beta for Mac) Lets you download mp3s from individual sites.
  • SongBird iTunes replacement with mp3 blog compatibility.
  • Hype-Machine (website that tracks mp3 blog activity and popularity.
  • ItisMusic.org Download individual tracks found on the net.

Combining the final two sites you can realistically download the entire works of a single artist if you’re properly motivated (and they are written about enough)

How Legit?

    The complicated answer is yes.
    Just one song from an album is enough to whet my pallet, but not enough to satisfy my hunger for a band if I really like it. Bloggers should also make it easy to take the next step: they sometimes post iTunes or Amazon links to purchase the album they’re writing about–or information on the band’s next appearance (myspace links are almost ubiquitous).  Bloggers who want to sleep peacefully at night like Aurgasm.us, have a sidebar caveat which explains why they feel they won’t be hunted down by the artists:

This music is here for evaluation purposes ONLY.
That’s what I want you to do: eval-u-ate: try on this music for size, see if it fits you. If you enjoy it, learn more. Explore the artist, delve into the genre.

Take an active approach in finding music you love. Only you can find what you love. Immerse yourself in it. Buy the CD. Go to the show and meet your favorite artist afterwards. Tell them their music changed you. Support the artists whose work you adore.

Be passionate about music.

Though he never says you should then delete the music after you’ve heard it a couple times…

    I understand that dredging the Internet for mp3s is in poor taste, and you should too. But perhaps our collective greedyness will make morality and bandwidth stealing a non-issue. Bloggers should adapt to what their readers are using their blog for. 
    Getting all the tracks from one of these sites is not nice. But at the same time bloggers should know about free services to share files: [zshare] [yousendit] [sendspace] and [megaupload] to name a few. These let you post a link to a link, which makes it hard for sneaky fools like me to steal your bandwidth. Because these downloads expire after a certain number of days (or downloads) it’ll also keep people from jacking links in your archives. Only the true music lovers will brave the ads on these download sites.

Limits and boundaries

    Should the musical arts neatly fit under the category of ‘goods’ or ‘services’ which demand payment?… Or can we imagine music as an open source catalog of art’s trajectory that deserves sensitive distribution and promotion?– this seems to be the ethos behind these blogs. Battling them are the suits of Apple, Microsoft, and the big five. But sometimes they allow mp3 blogs to promote artists [example].

    To some extent these mp3 blogs and the fruits of their thievery contribute to a band’s exposure–but this has always been a difficult thing to quantify. In the glory days of Napster, independent studies found that music purchases rose because more music junkies expanding their horizons. I would say that because some of these blogs track live performances, they contribute to band awareness and fanbase.

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