Eric Lumbleau is the editor of my favorite music download blog Mutant Sounds, where he curates, presents, and contextualizes fine outré, obscure, and out-of-print recordings. For the most part, this music has has either been swept into the dustbin of audio history or are so painfully rare that only the most dogged (or wealthy) crate-diggers have even the slimmest chance of acquiring an original copy. In the current issue of The Wire, Lumbleau lays out his logic for making this music freely available:
With the lid having already been thoroughly pried off the music-sharing Pandora’s box before I ever wandered into frame at the behest of the Greek collector who had started Mutant Sounds a few months earlier, it never occurred to me when I began my postings that this phenomenon was anything other than a fait accompli. Paradigm shifts are a bitch, but they’re also irreversible, and thus I never felt any real trepidation about the actions that I have taken in making all this obscure and long out-of-print material available for free, as long as we were doing our best to, by our own standards, keep our noses clean and keep in print work out of circulation. Fair being fair, I’ve posted the bulk of my own recorded back catalogue with Vas Deferens Organization, Sound, Tone Float and Jaloppy for free download alongside everyone else’s work.
Four years of postings later, the most notable thing about the response from artists is how little there has been, with only an infinitesimal fraction of those whose work we’ve shared having asked for their material to be removed in the absence of an album being either still in print (in the rare event that something still in print was posted by accident) or being due for reissue. Rather, numerous reissues have come to market as a direct result of those albums having first been discovered on Mutant Sounds and/or made viable enough to reissue because of the increased profile that a previously obscure album has received by being posted on Mutant Sounds.