I recently was brought in to Philadelphia to teach a DJ workshop. One of the topics that I brought up was my stance on music piracy. This is a touchy subject, especially among the young-ish Lindy Hop crowd who have grown up swapping files online. Beyond the fact that purchasing your music is simply the right thing to do, my take on it is that the Jazz music we love is unlike the pop music churned out by the record industry. Oftentimes it is put out by independent labels who care about the music itself even more than we do. So you copying that album from your buddy (or, as the case might be, a whole collection from a buddy) directly affects the people striving to provide us with this great material. You choosing to purchase it supports these companies and allows them to continue releasing more of the music you love.
There is also the issue of new bands or artists that are still alive. Always buy, and buy directly from the artist if you can! This is their livelihood and they are not making heaps of money off of this. I personally know many currently active swing musicians, and I definitely want them to be able to continue releasing recordings. They deserve more than fans pirating their music.
As a side note, there may be many ways people justify piracy, but it’s still illegal. In the U.S., if the song was released in 1922 or earlier, it is now in the public domain. Unfortunately for us, most of the music we listen to was published after that. The bad news is that new songs will not begin to enter the public domain until 2019.
Another point is that I’m a big fan of liner notes. The more you know about your music, the better a DJ you will be. When you download tracks from the internet or from friends, you get very little information (and sometimes completely incorrect information!) about the music itself. Learning about the music you play will lead you to discover more music in the same vein. Trust me, if you are serious about your music, this will be to your benefit.
I’m going to get off my soapbox for now and give you what I gave the aspiring DJs in Philadelphia: a list, simply as an example, that shows how you can get a great collection of classic jazz for less than $100. This isn’t meant to be a definitive list by any means, it was just what I came up with spending twenty minutes online. I tried to include many sources to show it doesn’t all have to come from one place. I’m not including links because the prices and availability are sure to change after this writing, but you’ll get the idea.
Lionel Hampton Story (92 tracks), new on Amazon: $12.64
Quintessential Billie Holiday, Volume 1 (16 tracks), mp3 on Amazon: $9.99
The Complete Decca Count Basie (63 tracks), new on Ebay: $4.99
Carmen McRae Great American Songbook (18 tracks), new on Amazon: $7.11
Count Basie Live at the Sands (14 tracks), used on Amazon: $7.49
Duke’s Joint (16 tracks), used on Amazon: $3.28
Ella & Duke at the Côte D’Azur (18 tracks), new on buy.com: $16.99
Slim Gaillard, Laughing in Rhythm (102 tracks), new on amazon: $13.75
Gordon Webster, Happy When I’m With You (12 tracks), new on iTunes: $9.99 (or pick it up in person sometime!)
Plus 8 tunes on iTunes (yes, I know you can’t usually get liners on iTunes. I struggle with this):
Keep On Churnin’ – Wynonie Harris
Benny Goodman – Did You Mean It?
Buster Smith – Organ Grinder Swing
Chris Connor – Summertime
Bill Henderson – You Are My Sunshine
Louis Jordan – Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby
Fats Waller – Let’s Sing Again
Nellie Lutcher – Fine Brown Frame
TOTAL: $94.15 (plus shipping) for 343 songs!
A big thanks to the good folks at LaB who brought me in for the workshop, it helped me write down a lot of the stuff that has been in my head for a while.Posted in Uncategorized