June 11, 2005

Online Audience Building and a Flood of Pirates

Sorry about the dearth of postings recently; it's been a rough few months. The crazy real estate market forced us to leave our super-cheap apartment of 16 1/2 years, the move was physically exhausting to illness. Big cities can seem like mere traps for artists these days, providing little or no real benefit while sapping every ounce of your strength.

On to the topic. We did luckily have a vacation planned - planned one week after our move! But after returning I noticed that my MP3 hosting site - Harrington MP3's was down. In a mere two days, I had had 16 GB of downloads. Now who or what power in the world could promote my eccentric classicisms towards that lofty audience size?

Russian MP3 collectors. Pirates. Piano Funky - Collection. There I was - sandwiched between Gorillaz and Chill Out Dreams. Featured like a commercial artist of value and not the forgotten American 40 something 'artiste de demain'. The unwashed, uncultured masses were downloading and sharing my music in an unprecedented manner - as if I were worthy of their criminality.

And what had happened of the barriers between classical music and pop? Where were the 'Serious Concert Music' banners that my genre absolutely requires to be intelligible? Where were the provisors - 'If you like Stravinsky or Schoenberg - this music might be up your alley'. They were non-existent - I had been curated as if I were a pop star, another underground hero to be mixed in with the eccentric noises of today's genre-bending multitude.

I felt honored and then I felt a bit frightened. If every Russian, Chinese, Indonesian, Turkish illicit MP3 site (a few other pirate sites I've found mention of myself) were going to feature my music - I wouldn't be able to afford to provide MP3's to the (ahem) civilized and cultured American/European audience that my career requires! Now the pirate free-for-all was turning my music into another online commodity that you had to have now and I wouldn't have the bandwidth to be ready to tackle the world of the real if and when it ever comes calling for 'yours truly'.

The net has opened up vast vast vast audiences. I know, I hope, that my music can speak to millions of them - I am that deluded. And I know, I hope that many musics of all flavors will be able to be heard by these audiences, also. But how can 'le deluge' of anybody with a PC and a wire be controlled?

Of course it can't. It can't be channeled, it can't be charmed. It is the Baudrilliardian mass that lurches one way and the other. I played a game - a game of creating a site that looked like a pirate MP3 site and I became a pirate player. I've merged the roles of apparently illegal sharing and music promotion and been burned. Now how do I proceed?

Since that happened (actually even before as my 40GB limit had been approached) I've had to take my site offline the end of each month. I've been mirroring my site at Parnasse, but Elsie needs her share of the bandwidth for all the people looking for 'Anime' and finding her painting called 'Anime.'

The web's chaotic audience takes and takes and takes... when will it give?

Posted by jeff at June 11, 2005 09:55 AM | TrackBack

One weird corollary is that you end up with absolutely free hosting of your stuff (whether you wanted it or not) for life! (or until their server breaks or gets shut down by some far-in-the-future international agreement and policing...) ;-) Truly bizarre...

Posted by: Steve at June 24, 2005 08:05 PM