After a fairly lengthy break from downloading music from the blogosphere, the other day I checked out some of the 'sharity' blogs I used to acquire interesting stuff from - such as Weird Brother, Know Your Conjurer and Bruitage et Mon Cri Dans L'Escalier - only to find they had been 'taken down' in recent weeks. Worst of all, the amazing archive Blaxploitation Jive - featuring the more or less entire discographies of most of the great figures from soul, jazz and funk - seems to have gone the same way.
There's obviously been a clampdown on file-sharing sites, although as yet I've been unable to find any news about it on the internet. Of course technically those who host these blogs are breaking copywright laws by sharing their music collections in this way, but the truth is the majority of them are passionate and committed enthusiasts who feel it's important that certain no longer available or hard to come by albums are still given an airing and a cultural circulation, usually among other appreciative music-lovers with refined or specialist tastes. Albums,moreover, that are frequently impossible to purchase either in what few music shops remain on the high street or on online providers like Amazon.
It's symptomatic of the rabid commodifying of the internet we're increasingly seeing - as well as of the deliberate manipulation and narrowing of musical tastes that goes with it eg. Spotify's predictive playlists - that this magnanimous act of sharing should be somehow turned into a crime. One of the most consistently remarkable and ear-opening 'sharity' blogs still extant is Mutant Sounds: last year its founder Eric Lumbleau justified its continuing pertinence as follows: "beyond anything else, Mutant Sounds stands as a rasberry-blowing rebuke to the fates that have marginalised some of the most crucial musical information in history...here, finally,was a means by which the entire shabby and ass-backward script that cadres of careless critics had foisted on successive generations of music fans could be undermined in one fell swoop." (The Wire 334, Dec '11) Maybe it's this rewriting of what Lumbleau calls "lazily recycled memes" that represents the real threat to the market-force hegemonies which now police the Web.