Sunday, 26 December 2010

Giving it away.

This is really a short post to follow up a short discussion - had via the comments section - with Jacques Prevost, a Belgian music journalist (and all round philosopher) who has a very lively music blog Jazzques. Jacques and I passed back and forth question/comments in a previous posting which he then used as a short online interview. One thing that fascinated me is the idea of getting (some of) your music out to the public, to be heard as in the concert situation, or rehearsals. I like the idea that you get to hear what people are working on, live concert recordings and short work-in-progress snippets. I've come across a few musicians sites who work a little in the same way. It's great to be able to get to sample a little of their different projects, and they don't need to be in high quality wave files to be enjoyed. After all if you can't always make it to the concert - especially if it's 1000's of kilometres away!

A few places offering free music are/have been :

Matt Otto - lessons, and free music!
Steve Coleman
NPR Music - Live at the Village Vanguard - You can download some of the most recent concerts.
Birmingham Jazz - Great place to download some of the interesting jazz circulating in the UK.

Smalls Jazz Club (you can only listen).

Although I've put Steve Coleman into this list I would like to point out that it's good news (for us) that you can listen to and download the music of Steve Coleman for free, it's also lucky for him that he's well known, played all around the world, made a reasonable living out of his music/playing and lastly that his reputation means that he can get concerts (and so sell, or sold, his recordings also) with no problem. Not something that lesser known European players can do so easily, if at all. When I see big name pop bands giving their music away and saying this is the thing to do, after already making millions out of their record/CD sales, it's really the dialogue of people who are no longer in touch with reality. This is a long discussion and has already been argued over by the likes of Lilly Allen and others, however when it comes to the jazz world I don't think that such large sales figures really become an issue.

As for more web-sites giving away free music I'll post more as I come across them. I won't be taking into account those people who give away 'one' track from their latest CD and the likes. 

There are also various blog sites that offer live concert recordings, these although not real 'freebies' are excellent ways to discover and hear groups who will never play in your neighbourhood. I hope that the musicians concerned don't mind, in earlier times these were known as bootlegs and record companies fought hard to get rid of or release better versions of these recordings. However, for jazz and improvised music they have become valuable sources of lost concerts and people that we never got a chance to hear live, and after all that's what music is about! You can check through my blog list where you can find some of these sites.

A final remark on why it's fun to give away (or make freely available) your music. Some music is just not easily sellable and if you're hoping to find concerts then forget it! The public is often hesitant to go to concerts where the musicians aren't known, or the music a bit different, one has to understand that many programmers are afraid (fear) to program music outside the norm. Cultural centers, festivals, jazz programming centers do not include more marginal types of music in their program. Some places are just down right rude and never even answer back ...... unless you add in that Charlie Parker is guesting! What we hear generally in festival programs is music that's easily digestible, or one could say 'not too challenging'. In addition it's maybe interesting for the public to understand that they are not always hearing music that musicians (would) choose to play! So, it seems to me that giving people a chance to hear your music for free, or at least the concerts, can only be a good thing, hopefully making people curious to come and see/hear your music live, where it should be heard. And one never knows maybe a programmer might just stumble across the recordings, and even be courageous enough to take a chance!

Postscript :

I thought I'd add in this poster from the Amougies festival in 1969. What's so interesting about this (for me) is the real cross section of music played here - Yes and Dave Burrell, Clifford Thornton and John Surman on the same day/bill, not a bad mixture. Of course it's wondering of the tracks a little when talking about giving away music, but it shows how at one time programming music could produce exciting results!

Click on the poster to get a larger view.
Interesting poster from the famous Amougies Festival 1969 on the border of Belgium.

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