A Response to William Basinski

In case some of you have not seen it, Mr. Basinski himself has posted the following to my blog – I would like you all to take a second to read it as I think he speaks for a number of people:

Dear Luke,

I appreciate you promoting my work, but please don’t file-share my music. It’s illegal, hurtful, and insulting. As of this month, finally, the catalogue is widely available for digital download at eMusic.com, iTunes, othermusic.com and multitudes of legitimate digital retailers. I have worked by the skin of my teeth for 30 years to get here. I really appreciate all of you young people who finally get the work, but I just can’t make it if you continue with the file-sharing, bit-torrents and what-not. Stealing is bad for the soul. Music is not free. Somebody has to pay for it. The artists pay and pay again. Some of them don’t make it. Please support the artists you love. If you want to promote my work, I would really appreciate if you would direct people to (for example) emusic.com, where they have a cheap subscription service where you get a bunch of free downloads by signing up… or, my good friends at the best music store in NYC and maybe the world, othermusic.com, who have been great supporters of mine since the very beginning, OR, for those who want a signed letter from me with a personalized copy they can contact me at my website. I do every thing myself, I have no assistants, I answer my own email. I own no property except some furniture and a bunch of broken old equipment. I rent my home and studio. I love and appreciate my fans who take the time and effort to write to me and buy music from me and my distributors that support my work. I never thought I would see the day. Please tell your friends to support working artists. There are plenty of places to hear the music online that are legal, like http://www.myspace.com/williambasinski for example.

Thanks you for your consideration and support,
William Basinski

First of all, thanks for taking the time to write to me personally. It is a breath of fresh air to see an artist interacting with his listeners. Second of all, my intentions were not meant to be either insulting or hurtful, though I am conscious of the fact that uploading my show every week flirts with issues of legality. I am not sure if you were able to listen to the entirety of my show or if you perhaps mistook the aim of this website, but the portion of El Camino Real that I played is perhaps 10-15 minutes long, is interrupted by my talking over it, and has only been posted at 192kbps. It is far from a complete copy of the material. My hope is to expose more people to the music I love by playing it (and thus promoting it) over the airwaves in Boston, MA and by making that broadcast available to other listeners all over the world by use of the internet.

While I often play complete songs on my show, I never make them available individually as high quality MP3s (unless you count the Autechre mix I made, but that was available for only a limited time and garnered me more than a few replies to the effect of, “Thanks, went out and bought the record.”). On occasion I have posted out of print records that listeners are forced to pay ridiculous prices for on eBay (if they want physical copies). It is my opinion that increased MP3 downloads of rare and hard-to-find material is the result of listeners feeling ripped off by artists that make their music difficult to find on purpose or outrageously expensive upon release (you might call it the Southern Lord syndrome). It is a relief to hear that you have recognized this problem and opted to make your discography available through multiple websites; at least someone gets it.

That said, I don’t think my show is responsible for people not spending money on music. I’d like to think the opposite is true. More than just a few individuals have called the radio station where I DJ (WZBC, 90.3 FM, you should check it out sometime because it’s a great and unique place) and asked about where they can find the music I’m playing. People are anxious to buy good music; you’ll be glad to know that I try to support local businesses that carry your music as well as a multitude of other creative musicians. It’s always nice to have a local record shop nearby where one can find good obscure music.

There is a reason I do not post full albums on this website as other places do and there is a reason that I have encouraged individuals to buy records on this website, but I get the feeling that whether or not I share music, people will continue to pirate it in less public forums. I remember taping radio shows so that I could enjoy music later, especially because I didn’t always have the money to spend on pricey records. I also remember people sharing mix tapes with me and excitedly recommending that I pursue more music by such and such an artist. I wonder at how many records I bought because of those tapes sometimes; if the amount of time I recently spent on organizing my collection is any indication it was a lot of records… and a lot of time spent hunting them down in stores all over the country when the internet wasn’t such a powerful tool for musicians and listeners. I know that someone must pay for music (or at least many people think so) and that you have made your music more easily and cheaply available than many others, but I’m sure you also appreciate the power radio has and its ability to convince people to buy things they’ve had a taste of, first.

If you wish, I will remove the final moments of my show and re-upload the MP3s so that people can continue to enjoy new music via my website, but without the added benefit of your music. I understand that there are plenty of legal places to hear new music, but I’m not sure how people find them if not by word of mouth or (more likely) by hearing the music somewhere other than the official or legal websites. If, however, this response changes your mind (or perhaps corrects a misunderstanding) and you decide that some free sharing of music is beneficial to both listeners an artists, then please say so. I would enjoy the ability to include your music in future shows.

Thank you very much for taking time to write to me – I hope that it won’t be the last time.

Sincerely,
Lucas Caldwell Schleicher

—-

This message is being e-mailed directly to Mr. Basinski (as soon as his website comes back online and I can access his address). If you heard my show and enjoyed any of the music, there are plenty of places to find it. Following Mr. Basinski’s lead, I’ll post a few websites below where you can find all the wonderful music I like to play. Those websites will henceforth be linked in the side-bar. PLEASE TAKE TIME TO LOOK THROUGH THEM AND TRY TO SET ASIDE SOME MONEY FOR ARTISTS WHO MAKE GREAT MUSIC. They deserve it.

Other Music
Forced Exposure
Twisted Village
Jnana Records
Mimaroglu Music Sales
Newbury Comics
iTunes
eMusic
Amazon

If you know of another website that provides quality music and is reliable, please e-mail me or leave me a comment. I will add it to the list.

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One comment

  1. Dear Lucas, I understand what you are doing now and thank you very much for your kindness and support! I really appreciate it. all the best, william basinski

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