I’ll admit that I’ll always prefer to own music on record or CD rather than in a digital file any day of the week. But ultimately I just want music, regardless of format, and if it can't be had on physical media, a digital file will do. Thanks to a recommendation from a reader of this blog, I’ve been gorging myself on all sorts of rare Brazilian music at this site. The stuff is free, which, of course, raises all kinds of legal issues, but this guy is probably losing money operating the site, and the labels that own the music don’t seem to be in any kind of hurry to release it.
I know that Verve Records has been offering a bunch of out-of-print jazz albums exclusively as downloads through iTunes, and RCA has been doing the same for a series of dance records. I’m sure there are other indie labels doing the same thing. But we’ve been promised a utopian future where all recorded music in history will be available with just a few keystrokes, and it still seems like a long way off. Why? If Google can hire Chinese laborers to scan every book ever published, I don’t see why these multinational corporations can’t start digitizing their vaults. (Of course, there’s a good chance they don’t even know what they own, or where the tapes are.)
I mention all this because a new operation called Anthology Recordings launched today; it's the brainchild of Keith Abrahamsson, an A&R rep for Kemado Records. The site will sells digital reissues of obscurities of numerous stripes, but it’s off to a modest start, with just six titles, including one from Adrian Sherwood’s experimental dub project African Head Charge as well as a live album by Minneapolis proto-pop-punks the Suicide Commandos. Future releases suggest a strong psych-rock slant, but they’ll also be making available catalog items from the fine Spanish label Vampisoul —including boogaloo pioneer Joe Bataan--although I believe these titles will also be on CD.
Pricing is generally competitive with iTunes. Until that day when everything is available, I guess I’ll keep trawling the blogs. Anyone got some more suggestions? Vintage Colombian music, maybe?