Thursday, 8 November 2012

Friends don't share.

Just a quick note on file sharing.

As a website that does reviews (duh!) we get sent stuff all the time through the post, pick stuff up at gigs, buy stuff online and in shops and so on, but there are a few labels who sort us (and others reviewers/media types) out with digital downloads of releases, sometimes weeks before their street date because, as I'm sure our erudite readers will know, the way it works is thus:

  • Album is recorded
  • Selected people get to hear it early
  • They like it! They tell people how good it is, and they should go buy it, or..
  • They don't like it! So they don't pass judgement on it*
  • When the album is actually released, all the people who have read the reviews go out and buy it.
  • Everyone is one big, happy, crusty doomy metal punk family.
Or at least, you'd think so.
We get our links sent via email in a round-robin style communication, and today in the inbox was a missive from a label whose mailing list Thee Claw have literally only just joined, but instead of news and music, it was bulging with a tale of how someone had recently leaked one of their as-yet unreleased albums onto the internet.
Evidently we were concerned, this is a label whose output we are floored by and we'd spent a while trying to pluck up the courage to apply to join their mailer (Hey, even international jet setters like we are geek out sometimes and get a tiny bit overawed), and to think that people think that little of a label that are inviting them in beggars belief.

Running Wild - The only type of Heavy Metal Piracy that we approve of!
I mean, what have you got to gain? You've been given a link to a digital album (which will be available to listen to for free on Bandcamp when it's finally released, and will literally cost about $3 for a download) from a band who whilst good, aren't exactly Metallica, you know, you couldn't sell it on, so that means fiscal reward can't be the reason you're doing it.

And you know, they're not professional musicians (very very few of the bands that Thee Claw, and ergo our readers, care about actually are!) so you know, this has been recorded during time off work, during time when even the record label owner would be doing something in their personal life that's just as fulfilling.

And you surely mustn't be doing it for cool points, else you'd just review the album, get people to buy it (now that's a cool thing to do) and then buy the band a beer each when they come through your town. must be doing it because you're an arsehole, and quite frankly, everyday life (work, mixing with the public, having to get the bus with drug addicts etc) is that full of arseholes that do we really need you thinking that you're welcome here?
Fuck off and get into some rip-off flash in the pan scene like fucking goa trance dubstep or something.
Or! Take advice from Uncle Patchie as to how he reviews his albums.

First, I assume that if you are serious about music, you have some form of decent Hi-Fi system, and that you have somewhere you can sit and listen without being interrupted, as opposed to, let's say, an iPod dock in your kitchen that you listen to whilst you wash the dishes.
We do that at Claw Towers by the way, but it's not how we do our reviews.
We'd get soapsuds all over the keyboard.
Here at Claw Towers we have a special vault (known colloquially as THEE PIG'S ROOM, because prior to it's conversion to a room crammed with Vinyl, CDs and the like, it was in such a state that "only a pig would live in there") with a pair of big comfy leather chairs in that I do all my reviews in.
Here's how it goes:
  • Download link arrives
  • I copy files to a digital music player, then delete the files - This removes any possibility that they'll be shared even "accidentally", as I use a shared PC.
  • I then connect said device to an archaic machine known as a MiniDisc deck
  • MiniDisc is then digested over the period of about a week whilst a review forms in my mind
  • I then write (with a pen!) the review in a notebook (on paper!) when I'm ready, then bring that notebook to the PC (which is in a different room than the music) and type it up and publish it on Thee Site.  This is why there is often quite a delay from receiving the album to the review going online.
Think once, think twice, think about how a few hours of being an arsehole ruins months of peoples work† , and think about the damage you could do to the reputations of those of us that are honest; if a small label can't trust people who like what they do, what hope is there for any underground scene?

*I am well aware that some people write bad reviews, but my shelves are full of demos I didn't like, but who am I to rip people apart?
I know there are plenty of people in bands that work on the ideal that they'd sooner have 400 people download their music and come and see them on tour than one person buy it and sit in the house.  Horse for courses, I suppose.

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