(A day later: Update at bottom of post)
The last time I was part of a major album release, I called attention to a Phishhook forum where they were sharing Never Stop on Hotfile. After my mildly censorious link they took the whole thread down. Maybe TBP lost some fans that day, I don’t know.
The new Billy Hart album isn’t even out yet, but music blogs are posting uploads.
I'm particularly struck by the happy commentators: "Thank you very much for your quality titles..." says berke tr. "...The entire group is world-class. Thanks for your efforts," says tom. Thanking the uploaders for their hard work in ripping and uploading an advance copy of the disc!
I was grumpy about the file-sharing of Never Stop, but at least TBP is established: I doubt much can really stop us from doing what we do. But the Billy Hart quartet is still trying to get a toehold as an interesting property in the industry.
Admittedly, I'm not disinterested in this! But even if I wasn't on All Our Reasons, I'd want Billy's ECM debut to have the best shot it could. Billy, 71 years young, deserves to make a popular record as a leader and have the label and the industry be interested in whatever his next move is, whether I'm involved or not. If no one buys the record because it is uploaded everywhere on the internet, generating interest is going to be that much harder.
As a blogger, I'm obviously not against open source. I also think giving away your record is the wave of the future for mass-market music. (Probably that future is now.) But it felt it like a punch in the stomach when I discovered that All Our Reasons was out there for free. I know most of the staff at ECM. They are great people who've already been downsized. They work for a company, sure, but well and truly they work for the music.
ECM is one of the only places left that has a decent-sized budget for a jazz record. I got to pick out a Steinway from the basement on 57th street, and I'm pretty sure that the piano rental cost more than what any of the musicians got paid. ECM invests in that piano because they believe that the investment is important musically (Manfred Eicher is wonderfully sensitive to piano sound) but also because they have learned that this investment pays off in sales.
If you are uploading All Our Reasons to be part of a peer group, you are working overtime to make sure there will eventually be no more new records like All Our Reasons.
UPDATE: I see from my referrers I've gotten some nice blog and Twitter feedback from this post. Thank you!
The word "thievery" is a little strong for me: I've shared music myself, although I've never uploaded an album by a living artist.
It's kind of up to the consumer to do the right thing here, which could include speaking out when possible. If anyone wants to leave comments on file-share blogs complaining about trumping the release date (and therefore undermining the launch of an album) please go ahead.
Someone asked, "Who leaked the record?" Excellent question! ECM is very good about getting promos to critics, so someone probably got it off a desk somewhere. It only needs to go up once before other sites piggyback. The fact that it is a ECM disc means it has the potential to drive an audience to a file-share blog. Many other various Billy Hart, Mark Turner, Ethan Iverson, and Ben Street albums aren't uploaded anywhere -- I've looked around. But people know that ECM albums have cachet, and therefore putting a new one up is a kind of coup.
As of today, Thursday 3/15, none of the four band members have yet to see a hard copy. UPDATE: We all got copies in the mail a day or two later. The package is really beautiful, with great photos by John Rogers.
There's a thread on TalkBass worth reading. Damon Smith gives me a new lead quote for my bio: "...The only recording I have of Iverson I downloaded for free, Billy Hart's new ECM. It is so boring I'd be pretty pissed if I paid for it!"