The Creative Commons weblog has a piece about LegalTorrents, a site for sharing via BitTorrent files that the right holders want shared (hence, like, the name). In a similar vein, I found the etree.org Community Bittorrent Tracker which is devoted to sharing via BT concerts of taper friendly bands like the Grateful Dead, Phish, Primus and such. There is also a site that shares only live REM cuts with the band’s permission. This one is not BitTorrent, but something else that I used a little bit and have since forgotten what it was. I must have uninstalled it since then, because I can’t even find it.
I like the notion of having P2P areas explicitly noted as being only for sharing files that the rights holders make available for trading. As it is with the power law distribution of the attention economy, most bands would benefit from the exposure. Here’s something I want to know – has any band ever backed off from a taper friendly stance? Has anyone ever said “We were once cool with bootlegs, but now we feel they hurt us economically”? I don’t know of any. One thing I notice from the list of bands on the etree.org taper friendly list is that they tend to be groups that do alright and play a lot of shows, but get little to no airplay. This kind of seems to suggest the thesis that getting your tapes out there for free serves a similar purpose as getting played on the radio – it gets people to your shows and buying your merch (and studio albums). I know many people into bootlegs of bands, and I don’t know a one who didn’t have most or all of the studio releases of those bands. Trading bootlegs does not fulfill the desire for music of that band and lower their sales, it increases the desire. This is a key point, and I’m glad to see the bootleg trading move online for the taper friendly groups. The best thing about online bootleg trading – it cuts into the pernicious part of the whole thing, which is bootleg selling by parties other than the band. I stood in the room as Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth said on the radio (with no tape delay, thus we broadcast his naughty word) “We’re cool with anyone taping our shows, but for God’s sake don’t sell the shit, give it away.”
I actually downloaded the Mac OS X client and gave the etree.org a shot, but I find BitTorrent too cumbersome to use so I ended up deleting the client. The whole deal where first you have to find the URL and then leave open the window after the download is done to share with other folks – blech. I think the underlying technology is quite cool, but the interface to the program is about 10 years behind that of any other P2P program I’ve seen.