The Future of “Traded” Digital Music?

I just caught this first thing this morning and I wanted to get this article a little more attention…

Jesse Jarnow, one of my favorite Jambands.com writer, has published an letter to the tapers in the community and it’s got an interesting twist at the end. As far as all tapers, traders, downloaders, etc. know, if it is encoded in FLAC or SHN, you NEVER decode the file to the MP3 format. This seriously downgrades the quality of the recording (which is usually noticable when it comes to live music), and thus it was consider a practice that must be avoided.

The point at the end is this…

There is a world of difference between instantly firing up an mp3 and waiting for a gigabyte chunk to download before converting it to a playable format. Blame it on slothfulness to wanna save time and harddrive space, but I’d bet many more people would download files (which would, in turn, would be circulated more widely) if they were available as mp3s.

Ultimately, this will increase the probability that the very shows we all trade and download already will live on in cyberspace indefinitely. I agree. Great point, Jesse.

I'm the Editor. HOLLA.
  • http://blogger.xs4all.nl/werksman/ Hans

    Jesse has a point. I am regular at the Live Music Archive and when I spot somethjing I like I download a couple of MP3′s if possible and fire up my player. When I like it I add the show to my bookmarks and use the FTP option to grab the whole thing overnight in SHN or FLAC, and convert it to something my stereo understands. I tell the neighbours that are fresh grooves coming their way for the next couple of hours.

    And when I don’t like it I trash the MP3′s.

    Kudos to all the tapers BTW.

  • http://blogger.xs4all.nl/werksman/ Hans

    Jesse has a point. I am regular at the Live Music Archive and when I spot somethjing I like I download a couple of MP3′s if possible and fire up my player. When I like it I add the show to my bookmarks and use the FTP option to grab the whole thing overnight in SHN or FLAC, and convert it to something my stereo understands. I tell the neighbours that are fresh grooves coming their way for the next couple of hours.

    And when I don’t like it I trash the MP3′s.

    Kudos to all the tapers BTW.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

    That’s exactly how I’ve found MOST of my music lately, Hans. Exactly.

    Jesse nails it.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

    That’s exactly how I’ve found MOST of my music lately, Hans. Exactly.

    Jesse nails it.

  • zaptor

    I agree as well, I would be listening to a lot more live music if shows were made more widely available in mp3′s. After all, isn’t American consumerism all about instant gratification?

    Seriously, though, Jesse voices my opinion perfectly and good for him for raising the point.

  • zaptor

    I agree as well, I would be listening to a lot more live music if shows were made more widely available in mp3′s. After all, isn’t American consumerism all about instant gratification?

    Seriously, though, Jesse voices my opinion perfectly and good for him for raising the point.

  • http://kokope11i.blogspot.com Stefan

    I agree, I think the time to fear mp3s needs to end. I can understand the root of it. The “good old days” of getting a 3rd or 4th generation tape. You were happy to get the music, but sometimes disappointed with the quality. Then the digital thing exploded and there is a lot of carry over of this multigenerational fear. Also early on there was a lot of ignorance about what to do with the music and bandwidth was still precious. You didn’t want to waste you time downloading something with a SHN > WAV > MP3 >WAV > SHN in the source.

    However, bandwidth isn’t as much of an issue with the archive and bittorrent. You don’t have to fight to get into an ftp server. I stream a lot of music from the archive. I get instant gratification and get exposed to a lot of stuff that that I wouldn’t normally invest the time and energy in to download a lossless show. For example, I’m going to see Keller in a couple weeks. I see that Raul Midon is opening for him. I’ve never heard of Raul before, but this morning I was able to go out and stream a show. Not bad by the way.

    I’m disappointed when I come across a show in the archive where the seeder has deemed that the show will not be distributed in lossy format. Seriously, what is the big deal in allowing someone the option to choose flac or mp3 from the same page? Maybe that person just wants to carry the tunes around on their mp3 player. Maybe they just want to sample or stream it. Isn’t one of the main principals of trading music to expose artists we like to a wider audience? I don’t think we want to protect the quality of the music at the expense of limiting exposure to new potential fans.

  • http://kokope11i.blogspot.com Stefan

    I agree, I think the time to fear mp3s needs to end. I can understand the root of it. The “good old days” of getting a 3rd or 4th generation tape. You were happy to get the music, but sometimes disappointed with the quality. Then the digital thing exploded and there is a lot of carry over of this multigenerational fear. Also early on there was a lot of ignorance about what to do with the music and bandwidth was still precious. You didn’t want to waste you time downloading something with a SHN > WAV > MP3 >WAV > SHN in the source.

    However, bandwidth isn’t as much of an issue with the archive and bittorrent. You don’t have to fight to get into an ftp server. I stream a lot of music from the archive. I get instant gratification and get exposed to a lot of stuff that that I wouldn’t normally invest the time and energy in to download a lossless show. For example, I’m going to see Keller in a couple weeks. I see that Raul Midon is opening for him. I’ve never heard of Raul before, but this morning I was able to go out and stream a show. Not bad by the way.

    I’m disappointed when I come across a show in the archive where the seeder has deemed that the show will not be distributed in lossy format. Seriously, what is the big deal in allowing someone the option to choose flac or mp3 from the same page? Maybe that person just wants to carry the tunes around on their mp3 player. Maybe they just want to sample or stream it. Isn’t one of the main principals of trading music to expose artists we like to a wider audience? I don’t think we want to protect the quality of the music at the expense of limiting exposure to new potential fans.

  • Dave Mc

    I’m not too savy when it comes to “firewalls” and the such, so I find myself only really being able to download the smaller mp3 files for shows, so I agree with Jesse 100%.

  • Dave Mc

    I’m not too savy when it comes to “firewalls” and the such, so I find myself only really being able to download the smaller mp3 files for shows, so I agree with Jesse 100%.

  • Paul

    I have been saying this for years. Every day I download stuff off of bt.etree.org and archive.org and use shn2mp3 to encode it to MP3s. I leave the torrent around for a while to allow others to download it, then delete the flac/shns. My argument is the sound quality loss by MP3 encoding is not perceptible to the human ear, or is a least minor at most. The benefit of being able to fit 4 entire shows onto one MP3 CD, or store thousands of shows on my hard drive, easily outweighs whatever loss of sound quality MP3 encoding causes. I understand the theoretical loss of quality that MP3 encoding causes, but like I said, in my experience it is completely inperceptable. The quality of the original recording is a far bigger factor in terms of the overall quality of the sound of the music when compared to MP3 encoding. Maybe I don’t have stereo equipment that has a enough fidelity to make the difference perceptable, but on my computer with headphones, portable MP3 player, car stereo, boombox, etc., the loss of quality is just not noticeable. While were on the subject, 128kbps MP3 encoding also appears to be more than adequate to me. I hate the fact that the archive has just 64kbps and VBR. VBR takes up more space and does nothing to increase the quality of the sound, whereas I do admit with 64kbps, there is a perceptable loss of quality. In the age of digital music, there really is no need for “trading” of music in the traditional sense. It should be Taper > WAV > MP3 > download to my computer, that’s it. No SHN > WAV > MP3 > WAV > SHN, EAC Errors, 3rd generation cassettes to worry about. And as I said before, that quality of the original WAV (which is obviously effected by many factors, venue, taper’s location, taper’s equipment, levels set while recording by taper’s, etc.) is what will ultimately determine the quality of the music.

  • Paul

    I have been saying this for years. Every day I download stuff off of bt.etree.org and archive.org and use shn2mp3 to encode it to MP3s. I leave the torrent around for a while to allow others to download it, then delete the flac/shns. My argument is the sound quality loss by MP3 encoding is not perceptible to the human ear, or is a least minor at most. The benefit of being able to fit 4 entire shows onto one MP3 CD, or store thousands of shows on my hard drive, easily outweighs whatever loss of sound quality MP3 encoding causes. I understand the theoretical loss of quality that MP3 encoding causes, but like I said, in my experience it is completely inperceptable. The quality of the original recording is a far bigger factor in terms of the overall quality of the sound of the music when compared to MP3 encoding. Maybe I don’t have stereo equipment that has a enough fidelity to make the difference perceptable, but on my computer with headphones, portable MP3 player, car stereo, boombox, etc., the loss of quality is just not noticeable. While were on the subject, 128kbps MP3 encoding also appears to be more than adequate to me. I hate the fact that the archive has just 64kbps and VBR. VBR takes up more space and does nothing to increase the quality of the sound, whereas I do admit with 64kbps, there is a perceptable loss of quality. In the age of digital music, there really is no need for “trading” of music in the traditional sense. It should be Taper > WAV > MP3 > download to my computer, that’s it. No SHN > WAV > MP3 > WAV > SHN, EAC Errors, 3rd generation cassettes to worry about. And as I said before, that quality of the original WAV (which is obviously effected by many factors, venue, taper’s location, taper’s equipment, levels set while recording by taper’s, etc.) is what will ultimately determine the quality of the music.

  • Jamy

    There are enough places on the web to find MP3′s to download. In fact way more than places to download lossless. So I don’t really understand what this post is all about.
    For all you complainers, a lot of shows on the archive are now available in Ogg vorbis which is a way better format than MP3. ( It sounds MUCH better in comparison with the same song encoded at the same bitrate in MP3 and most software/portable players support it). For Dave: Sorry bro, my ears and I’m sure a lot of others peoples’ ears actually hear an immense difference between LOSSLESS and an encoded format and I’m grateful there is a community out there that cares. You don’t like it, go somewhere different!

  • Jamy

    There are enough places on the web to find MP3′s to download. In fact way more than places to download lossless. So I don’t really understand what this post is all about.
    For all you complainers, a lot of shows on the archive are now available in Ogg vorbis which is a way better format than MP3. ( It sounds MUCH better in comparison with the same song encoded at the same bitrate in MP3 and most software/portable players support it). For Dave: Sorry bro, my ears and I’m sure a lot of others peoples’ ears actually hear an immense difference between LOSSLESS and an encoded format and I’m grateful there is a community out there that cares. You don’t like it, go somewhere different!