The short era of Other Music podcasts

Note: the following is my own opinion. My views don't necessarily reflect those of the station or the other Other Music DJs.

I received a DMCA complaint for one of the Other Music podcasts. Technically, as these things go, Google received the complaint, the contents of which have yet to be made available, which resulted in the offending post being reverted to "draft" status and the mp3 file of the show being removed as well.

Unfortunately, I had misunderstood how the DMCA applies to podcasts--as it turns out, a music show like ours would have to be posted in 5-hour blocks for no more than 10 days before removal to be compliant. It would also have to be presented in a format with only play/stop functionality. Explore this link for some of the intricacies of DMCA compliance as it relates to podcasts, if you're in the mood to get bummed.

Exceptions can be made upon agreement with copyright holders, so when we have guests on the show talking about their music or playing in the studio, I will make those broadcasts available. And I'm leaving the links available for the recent Paul Bailey interview show and the Bobbie Boob live-in-the-studio show. The other podcasts, however, are no longer linked.

I have a few observations regarding this situation, and I'd love to get a conversation going in the comments section of this thread. Please feel free to chime in:

Regardless of the letter of the law, I fail to see how 2-hour-long mp3 files, recorded at  low bit rate and transcoded from the webstream of each broadcast (and the webstream is a product paid for by the station) presented as singular long files with no track breaks, could conceivably hurt record sales for any artist. The broadcasts themselves never feature more than 2 tracks from any one artist in the course of a 2-hour show, and even if we played an album from beginning to end--which we wouldn't--the audio quality of the podcasts would be incredibly low and full of pops and crackles from transcoding.

The radio show has been on the air since the mid 90s, building an audience over time and establishing a reputation as a great "finding tool" for people who are interested in learning about creative music of the past and present. We help to expose lesser-known music to a considerably wider audience, and we spend a lot of time selecting truly exemplary music for broadcast, digging into our large personal collections and continuously researching new and old music that we want to feature. The situation is very much the opposite of trying to hurt the potential sales of creative music. I wish I had a way to compile statistics, but I can say anecdotally from the calls, letters, and Facebook comments and messages we receive that people who listen to the show do find new favorite composers and bands with our help, and they ask us for more information on music we play almost every week. And the artists featured on the show receive compensation for both the over-the-air and the live streaming audio of our broadcasts through the usual broadcast/SoundExchange channels.

Because the live broadcast of Other Music happens at a potentially inconvenient time for many of our listeners, and because people generally have busy schedules, many have requested that we offer podcasts of the show. Having fielded many of these requests myself, it's clear to me that these are people who want to find out about new and unusual musicians, and recognize the potential of our show to help them in their search. Having a podcast of the shows is not a way to get music for free for this audience--instead it is a starting point toward musical explorations which frequently result in album, digital music, and concert ticket purchases.

At minimum, the DMCA needs to be amended to take a more realistic view of podcasts and their place as promotional tools. If podcasts followed the guidelines that pertain to live-streaming audio, I can't see how they could be construed as anything but an asset to the promotion of music, especially if there were bitrate limitations applied to the products. In a deeper sense, I am frustrated with the DMCA's functionally putting podcasts of legitimate broadcasts into the same category as peer-to-peer filesharing and download blogs, and I am baffled as to why random takedown notices are still being used as a "tool" in an online environment that has for the last full decade made it possible to download virtually any record ever made. While I can't claim to have an answer for the larger problems of illicit album sharing online, it must be obvious to any observer that the law is it stands is archaic and functionally unenforcable.

--Speaking of "functionally enenforcable,"there are many free tools for recording streaming audio, including tools that can be used for "scheduled recordings" where you can set up your computer to record a streaming broadcast in your absence and listen later. I've been using Radio Recorder to make the OM podcasts, which would work well for listeners who use Apple computers. PC users can look at tools like the ones on this huge list. While not as convenient as my offering a podcast from a central location, listeners can certainly make their own recordings of the show with a minimum of trouble.

For the record, I have grand plans for this site and the radio show, and while I'm frustrated with the podcast situation, I'm not going to let it slow me down. Music has been essential to my life as long as I can remember, and I'm enjoying this opportunity to put my musical education and experience to work through reviews and interviews. In my years as a musician, composer, and performer, I spent lots of time informally reviewing and recommending albums to friends and peers--most would attest to my trapping them into extended listening sessions on multiple occasions. Now I'm excited to incorporate a more formal series of reviews and conversations into my musical activities. I'm already listening to huge volumes of music with passion and rigorous concentration, and I also love to write--it's a natural and enjoyable activity for me. So stay tuned for more reviews, interviews, and essays. A few goodies should be arriving in the next week.

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