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Awesome Tapes from Africa

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:28 pm
by Des
I've been addicted to this website for a while now and downloaded quite a bit from it but does anyone know if it's ethical to do so? Is it ripping off the artists? Are the people behind thw website OK? Guilt is written all over my face.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:57 pm
by Des
I'm disappointed no one on this forum can be arsed to answer this one, seeing as most forumistas are hacks, 'pros' etc. Never mind I'll just carry on using the website and damn the expense.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:29 pm
by Dominic

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:56 pm
by Des
Yep, that's definitely Awesome Tapes from Africa.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:10 pm
by That Was Jonathan E. Then
I haven't looked at that site for ages. There's definitely a lot of new downloads available. Too bad I'm kind of busy today . . . but it's very, very tempting.

My answer to Des: in an ideal world there would be some way of recompensing the artists for their music. In this so-so-so-far-from-ideal world, I personally am of the opinion that it honors the music more to download it, listen to it and enjoy it than it rips the artist off for the relatively trivial sum of money involved.

I'd guess that there may be other extenuating circumstances such as the fairly good chance that the musician isn't going to see any money anyway due to the reportedly widespread bootlegging of cassettes in Africa, the fact that we basically cannot buy most of these cassettes or artists out here in the West for love or money, and the oft repeated argument by Peter Gabriel and other avant-twits that the recorded music is out there for free and that's ok because more people will come to the shows. Oh! I'm having trouble swallowing that one. I'll stop now.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:45 am
by joel
Jonathan E. wrote:My answer to Des: in an ideal world there would be some way of recompensing the artists for their music.

I'm sure ways could be found.
If, like Bennloxu, they were posting a few samples from each album and helping to make sense of the music I think it would be fine, a really cool and informative resource.
But posting entire albums seems more like theft.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 1:36 pm
by Adam Blake
Thanks for hipping me to this site. Some wonderful music.

Des, did you ever see the film "The Harder They Come"? I'd be surprised if you hadn't. Do you remember when Ivan (Jimmy Cliff's character) is forced to sell the rights to his song and his recording of it for $20? I would imagine a similar situation existed for the makers of this music. That doesn't make it right, that's just how it is. If we affluent westerners could pay the requisite sums involved for the privilege (and isn't it a privilege?) of being able to enjoy this music, do you think that any of that money would find its way back to the musicians? No. MAYBE it might get back as far as the producers of the sessions - but I doubt it. It would be pocketed by whoever had bought the rights to the catalogs of the studios or independent record labels who put it out in the first place. Those cassettes are almost certainly pirate copies themselves.

For a musician in Africa to make a decent living they either have to come to the west (1st world) or make dodgy deals with fascist dictators whereby they are allowed to live in relative luxury in return for openly endorsing whatever tinpot regime that the International Arms Trade have allowed to buy the weapons necessary to maintain their stranglehold over the population.

But don't let me spoil anyone's enjoyment!

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 1:57 pm
by matt
Make peace with yourself. Give some money to a stranger.

Someone has placed a newpaper on a public bench. Do you read it?

The music industry have had their chance. Time to move on. Artists need to smarten up regarding how they make money from their creations.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 2:04 pm
by Adam Blake
Easily said, but what's a musician supposed to do? If I didn't teach, I'd be totally stuffed. A musician plays live and a minority make records. If they can't make any money from their records, because the material is available for free on the internet, then they have to make a living from performances.
Thus gig fees go through the roof (as indeed they have) and the result is that only rich people can go to gigs.

This has been the situation in the 3rd world for a long time. Instead of downloading, they had/have pirate copies.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:40 pm
by joel
Adam Blake wrote:Easily said, but what's a musician supposed to do? I
In this case surely it's more a case of what's a wannabe consumer to do. Stealing from African muscians - no matter how difficult it is to pay them - still smells bad.
We've raped their lands, stolen their people, snuffed out their traditions (while putting the physical remains behind glass in our museums) and now we want their music and can't pay/won't pay for it.
This is not a pretty picture TBH.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:28 pm
by Adam Blake
Agreed, my point is that the theft has already taken place. If it is impossible to make reparation do we deny ourselves the pleasure of this music? As some kind of noble-minded penance?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:04 pm
by pirkko
Adam Blake wrote: did you ever see the film "The Harder They Come"? I'd be surprised if you hadn't. Do you remember when Ivan (Jimmy Cliff's character) is forced to sell the rights to his song and his recording of it for $20? I would imagine a similar situation existed for the makers of this music. That doesn't make it right, that's just how it is


I've heard from elderly Jamaican musicians that they used to bootleg? their own recordings to get some money from them, as all the rights belong other people, often to people who had nothing to do with the creation of the music. Most probably true.

There's the case of "Lion Sleeps Tonight" (NSync version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0quRHU4ej0) whose original South African author died in poverty, and I think the heirs might still be battling for their fair share in courts:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_Sleeps_Tonight

There's Malaika
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlDNvUebe7Y

with a history of confused ownership:
http://www.artmatters.info/music/articles/william.php

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:11 pm
by matt
Make sure you know who the "we" is....

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:19 pm
by That Was Jonathan E. Then
"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." — Now, who can have written that?

Make peace with yourself. Give some money to a stranger.

That's an answer I like. Things get spread around if we act with good intentions.

Remember, "Practice random acts of kindness and perform senseless acts of beauty." Sometimes abbreviated to "Just be random, kind, senseless, and beautiful." Not that I expect universal agreement with that sentiment — especially from all members of this forum. However, Anne Herbert, who is sometimes credited with the origination of that phrase, didn't seem to mind even when I abbreviated it down to "Just be random and senseless." That was a long time ago in my punky nihilist phase.

I think that this particular question of recompensing musicians is rather pointless, perhaps even senseless, when the music is completely unavailable other than via blog download. And it's better to have the music out and about, alive and well and in the world, than locked up in some intellectual property prison.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:52 am
by Rob Hall
It seems odd to me that "we" have the technology and the inclination to bring the music out of Africa - or wherever - but "we" seem incapable of putting some mechanism in place whereby the the musicians who created the music in the first place are suitably recompensed. It's a one-way street. To echo Joel's earlier point: it reflects badly on us all.