Winter was hard…

After this week’s interesting events regarding certain cyberlocker, a reshuffle of one kind or another is likely to happen among the mp3 bloggers community, as some bloggers will lose most of their files while others simply get shut down by the Blogger and Tumblr platforms. As I wrote in a previous post, some irresponsible and greedy bloggers spoiled the freedom to post sound files when they chose instead to make money with illegal mp3s – from what I’ve read in the media this week, we are talking something like $150,000 per month for some bloggers. As for me, I will continue to upload music with virtually no commercial potential. It doesn’t get me lots of readers, all right, but I won’t be shut down or prosecuted like some bloggers are likely to be in the future.

Now, what kind of game is Ubuweb founder Kenneth Goldsmith playing, I wonder? On his Twitter page, he apparently embarked on a campaign vindicating the freedom of filesharing and illegal copy, supporting, for instance, the anti-SOPA campaign. He seems to expect Ubuweb to be closed any day soon – or is he merely hoping to become some kind of  freedom of speech martyr? In any case, and to my surprise, Ubuweb is slowly moving from an educational, avantgarde repository to an anti-copyright champion.

Samuel Beckett would not approve, Ken!

* *

16 Responses to “Winter was hard…”

  1. 1 Some boring name January 20, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Wow. Just read the Mega Act and your old article: stunning, if there’s still a slight hope that we can someway trust the authorities. It’s like Cyperpunk finally really arrived.
    Love your blog by the way: I mostly come to get inspiration for digging, I owe you atleast Bengt Hambraeus and a passion for uni-disc: I just bought Andrée Huet & Eric Thibor – Imaginations pour l’Expression Corporelle yesterday!

  2. 2 horstu January 21, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Thoughtful comment!

    For some people, this world seems fine as long as there are free downloads of Sex and the City and the latest Katy Perry record.

    A less sophisticated post was posted by Mutant Sounds.

    MU bust = US tyranny :)

    Megaupload was really nice, but Kim Schmitz wasn’t a White Knight of Freedom of Speech.

  3. 3 scztt January 21, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Ken is doing something important, I think. In the network of arrangements between content producers, publishers, curators, consumers, enthusiasts, etc., those with the most investment in the specific content (artists, curators, you, Ken, so on) have the least freedom and shoulder the most risk. You said it yourself – you filter what you share (things with “no commercial potential”) specifically because of the legal environment. Without making too many assumptions about you, I imagine that if you were sued, it would be f-ing bad for you – likewise, if Kenny G got fired from his job for running Ubu (something totally plausible at most universities), it would probably be quite bad for him. Artists remain the keystone – their position is most precarious, and they are responsible for making all of this possible in the first place (by, um, creating interesting stuff).

    Conversely, those who have the most power in this scenario – large companies that make money from buying and owning copyrights, and technology opportunists taking advantage of the aggressive legal environment created by the aforementioned (Apple, Amazon, Megaupload) are the least precarious, and have the least investment in the specifics of the content (Apple, Amazon, MU, Universal, are all in the business of owning and selling abstractions – to them, selling one song 100 times or 100 songs 1 time are the same – they could be selling permissions to chunks of ice instead of songs and it would make minimal difference to their investors and their business model).

    In short – the people that SHOULD be exploring what it means to enable/make/curate/engage-with cultural artifacts in an era where copyright is impossible – have the least freedom, and risk the most in doing so. It seems critically important, then, that Ken / Ubu are confronting that risk head-on AS content enablers/makers/curators/engagers, trying to ask the appropriate questions, and encouraging similar parties to do the same (and – again – doing so in the face of rather significant risk). No progress (and, especially, no progress that’s aligned with the interests of the e/m/c/e’s) is going to happen unless they (we) take real risks to discuss and experiment with alternatives.

    (And: I appreciate your posts on the subject – – it’s REALLY important that the question of bloggers making money, hosting companies making money, and the all various economic tide pools of the music world, be part of the public discourse. At this point, the less discussion had about this, the more room for tertiary opportunists to make scads of money, while artists wonder if they can afford to make another record, and bloggers share music with the axe of legal attack hanging above their necks.)

  4. 4 polypx January 21, 2012 at 4:41 am

    I agree. Ubuweb is losing my interest as a result…

  5. 5 Myliton Khantarya January 21, 2012 at 5:17 am

    ”Quer dizer,com que então,acabou-se a brincadeira?Com essa devassa no
    denominado Megaupload,aínda haverá possibilidades de baixar os ítens,
    que o caro amigo,até então,vínha nos brindando? Ficamos absolutamente
    desnorteados com essa nova,nada abonadora!
    Esperemos que,oxalá,não venha esses eventos a prejudicar a nossa reco –
    lha,sempre tão profícua,de postagens absolutamente excepcionais! ”
    É…” Esperemos e gemamos” !!!
    Uma boa sorte!

  6. 6 Grumpy January 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Dear Continuo, I’ve long admired your blog and I completely agree with what you wrote in your older post and in your responses to the follow-up comments. In fact, thanks for opening my eyes: I was already sickened by the so-called bloggers (hundreds of them, in my own area, classical music, though I also love exploring the avant-garde) who appear to give away recordings which are commercially available – I didn’t realise they actually sell them!

    These crooks profit doubly: their crimes support the commercial and authoritarian lobbyists’ case, convincing ignorant and compliant politicians to sanction draconian action; legitimate sharing is thus made harder or even impossible, leaving the field open to the cowboys, who find new openings and methods which honest folk do not know about or would never use.

    Keep it up.

    Best wishes,


  7. 7 Algona January 22, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Continuo,

    I just want to wish you well with the reshuffling, and to thank you for your wonderful blog. I’ve discovered so much amazing music thanks to you that I’ve never even heard of before! I often don’t listen to the music for some time after I get it (I have a bit of a backlog), so I’m bad about leaving thanks for your posts. So thank you.

  8. 8 sonicasymmetry January 26, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Yours is probably the most consistent quality information blog on music from the fields of avant-garde, a-cote-garde and par-dessus-garde. It is quite worrying what is going on at the moment as I understand some phone and media companies have frozen their internet-related R&D since last week. I am however, more concerned by the stability of the wealth of information you have provided over years. I have noticed that some bloggers have decided to call it quits since last week. I very much hope there is no such credible threat here and that the encyclopedic accumulation of knowledge you provided will not be lost. To my horror, I have noticed that some of the sonic content in your archive is, however, no longer available (the entire roster of servers gone mute). Is it possible to re-up some of those destroyed files, on request?

    Thank you for all this fantastic work. You have made the pit look gracefully bottomless.

    Meilleures salutations,


  9. 9 continuo January 26, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Hi, Tomasz,

    Thanks for your exquisite comment, but I never promised you a rose garden…

    It has never been my conception of things to put all my files on the same server, nor to make files available for ever. With the closing of some file lockers, bloggers will have to move to other platforms, which is annoying, all right, but not the disaster some would want you to believe.

    Regarding re-uploads: this is only a blog with a daily delivery of obscure musics readers are supposed to enjoy instantly, not an archive nor a netlabel. If I had to comply with all re-upload requests, I’d have to stop writing new posts to take care of file management duties, which is of no interest to me. Besides, wouldn’t it be the role of readers to create a forum where they would maintain or trade the files they like most? The problem with some bloggers today is audio piracy ; the problem with some readers is laziness and passivity, and this is not going to change any time soon.

  10. 10 Jan January 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    And I – maybe the mere reader/listener, with a lack of too much time, engulfed by today’s hysteria (yes, we Belgians have a governement now) – am grateful for this blog, my homepage. So, thanks for all your efforts C! In recent years my listening habits have changed for a great part thanks to you. And I on my turn could convince some people – not many, but some – to stretch their ears. Keep it going please!!

  11. 11 continuo January 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I, too, have learned a lot from the internet, including from some fellow bloggers. Thanks for your comment, Jan, and long live the new government!

  12. 12 rob January 29, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    it’s peculiar isn’t it – that individuals such as yourself, who as a rule post rips of music which are almost impossible to find, let alone buy, should somehow fall foul of SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/SHITTA, etc etc – i would hazard that any single one of the artists represented here would be delighted that their work, previously locked away in finite copies of a not-quite-obsolete medium, should be widely available again. when one thinks of what major content providers are actually for – A&R, investment in new talent, manufacturing and marketing of product, it’s clear that to any creature with a brain stem, they’ve lost all ability in the first two areas, and they’re trying desperately to hand on to the second two. only major feature films now need big money to get made. and 99% of those are a waste of photons.
    these are the death throes of a monster that we’re witnessing. the bitching from the big entertainment industry players ought to be called out for what it is – a whinge against threats to their business model, not the moral crusade that they pretend.

  13. 13 rob January 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    @jan – i was rather hoping that belgium would eventually become the world’s first truly anarchist country. sadly not…

  14. 14 continuo January 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Thanks for the detailed and accurate piece of writing, Rob. What can I say? Admittedly, the new state of things make it more difficult for readers to download stuff from Continuo’s. Yet, hopelessly unmarketable-music blogs like this one are not in danger of being closed and, besides, I hardly download anything myself because of the lack of originality and curiosity of most music bloggers – and I’m not interested in the film industry as a rule. But for the life of me, I wouldn’t want to be in a position where I’d have to choose between American music majors or the Hollywood film industry on the one hand, and Mr Kim Schmitz, aka Mr Megaupload, on the other hand. All are equally repulsive to me. When the world of entertainment is either ruled by Hollywood or by Megaupload, we’ve already reached a pre-fascist point.

  15. 15 Acousmata February 16, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Hello Continuo,

    I absolutely agree with what you’ve said about avaricious rebloggers. And I certainly don’t shed a tear for Mr. MegaUpload. (Although, overlooked in the demise of that service is the untold gigabytes of legal, backed-up data that were lost, presumably with no prospect of recompensation.)

    But I’m not sure I understand your position vis-a-vis Kenneth Goldsmith and UbuWeb. While Goldsmith has clearly taken a radical anti-copyright position, I don’t think he’s made a cent off UbuWeb (good luck with that). You write that “Ubuweb is slowly moving from an educational, avantgarde repository to an anti-copyright champion.” I believe that, in light of the historically expanding power of copyright, these two purposes are more and more logically conjoined.

    Let me explain what I mean by this:

    In the current legal situation the following scenario is entirely imaginable: the corporations that own the copyright on albums you have shared–or the parent companies that have assimilated those copyrights in the intervening 30 or so years of rampant media consolidation–could shut down your site and others like it. But the albums are out of print, you say? A meaningless distinction, if they are still under copyright. The companies could easily make the argument that your sharing of this music preempts their potential to profit from hypothetical re-releases at some future point. In short, the most meager prospect of “financial damages” to copyright holders would trump all claims to “curatorial interest,” intellectual freedom, and the like.

    In short, whatever your beliefs are concerning the proper role of copyright in the creative economy, the fact is that much of the internet as we know it, in its best manifestations (such as, of course, this very blog) would be at risk if the forces behind bills such as SOPA were to triumph. We’re all in the same boat.

  16. 16 continuo February 16, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Confined to the margins as it is, this blog is completely under the radar for the Hollywood industry who rules the internet. If there was an overall shutdown of all mp3 blogs, I’d move to a newsgroup or even SoundCloud — I am rather mobile and flexible in these matters.

    Besides, I don’t think “we’re all in the same boat” regarding copyright infringement. As a blogger, I don’t illegally distribute recent CD reissues, like Lucky Psychic Hut or Holy Warbles and many others did, nor do I post music advertized in The Wire, for instance. The music appearing on Continuo’s is long “out-of-interest” for the media corporations who complained to the FBI re Megaupload.

    It would be just fine for me if Ubuweb would host un-copyrighted material only and spare us the hypocrital, freedom-of-speech declamations. I don’t need the Iannis Xenakis or Pierre Henry CDs, the Steve Reich or Jean-Luc Godard DVD rips, all currently peppering the Ubuweb homepage, as this material is easily available from Amazon or the local library. I just expect from Ubuweb to present Kurt Schwitter’s Ursonata as something vital and exciting, to conveniently host the Antropofagia manifestos or the Electronic Music Review magazine series.

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