Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Friday Five #58

*1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? Why?*
Who? Mike Watt. Why? The answer is impossible to explain adequately. The best I can do is this — read his website, listen to his music, and make up your own mind.
*2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why?*
No one in particular. Anything on contemporary pop radio, I guess. Whatever happened to the 80’s?
Also, I am of the opinion that both Bob Dylan and the Beatles (amongt a whole list of canonical artists) are hideously overrated. Listen, they just don’t click with me like they do for you, so stop trying to persuade me that I have to like them, okay?
Good, that’s settled then.
*3. If your favorite singer wasn’t in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person?*
If I knew who he was, I’m sure that I would.
*4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show?*
Oh, I’ve been to many, many shows, and yet not enough. Of all that I’ve witnessed so far, the following are the standouts, in no particular order: J Mascis + The Fog, Manchester, June 2001; At The Drive-In and The Murder City Devils, December 2000; NoMeansNo in the summer of 2000; Man Or Astro-Man? and Zen Guerrilla, January 2000; Fugazi, October 2002. The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Icarus Line, September 2002; Yo La Tengo, May 2000; And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Toronto, March 2002; The Blood Brothers, March 2003. (My apologies if I’ve left any off.)
*5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online vs. purchasing albums? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from dowloading free music?*
This, needless to say, is a controversial issue, with no completely straight-forward answer. Personally I much prefer albums over mp3s, mainly because I like to have a tangible article, something that’s been conceived and designed and packaged with care and intention. When I download music, it’s always to see if I like a particular artist or a particular song, and if I do, nine times out of ten the download leads to an album purchase (at the very least it goes on my list of records to get in future). Lately I’ve been buying my music either from independents such as Midheaven or direct from the label — dirt cheap, usually with a personal touch, and you know where your money is going.
It’s just not the same, downloading the tracks without the case, the artwork, the liner notes, etc. But most other people — especially Americans — seem happy to do it, which leads to the problems we have now. The actions taken recently by the RIAA (and the major labels it represents) have been more than a little heavy handed, yet the law is on their side: the major labels own the copyrights on the sound recordings and are perfectly within their rights to use the law against file sharers to recoup their (potential) lost revenue. (Whether the artists themselves want to or not is usually irrelevant.)
This would be fine if that was the end of it, but it’s not even close. I strongly object to the attempts of the major labels to rewrite laws to suit their own wants (by way of congressional lobbying or whatever) rather than working within the realms of the laws as they stand (like everybody else). I also object to the manner in which file sharing networks have been broken just to protect the interests of the Big Five, when on the flipside many independent labels actively encourage the sharing of their artists’ music over the net as an invaluable promotional tool. Case in point: Napster, in its heydey, was a vertiable goldmine of underground, obscure, and long-deleted musical treasures of a scope that no one could ever have imagined just a few years previously — a goldmine that the RIAA had no right to take away from us.
So yes, the RIAA can do whatever they want regarding the music produced by the labels it represents. But as soon as they start to interfere with the activities and economic potential of independent artists and labels — and with the forced closure of Napster, they’ve effectively done that already — then they forfeit whatever moral rights they might have had and deserve to be ripped off, legally or not.