Great kickstarter for 1970s interviews with notable people

This sounds amazing. But expensive! -- the box set costs $300, and the digital set of interviews cost $80.

Between 1969–1972, Howard Smith recorded interviews with scores of rock stars and cultural icons. As a Village Voice columnist and radio personality on WPLJ FM, Smith sat down for revealing, personal conversations with Eric Clapton, Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, Buckminster Fuller, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia and Hugh Hefner, to name just a few. He interviewed John Lennon and Yoko Ono no less than five times, and called in live dispatches from his Winnebago parked stage-side at Woodstock. Smith was at the center of culture during an era of extraordinary transformation.

Smith kept the original interview reels, hundreds of them, buried in a crate in the back of his New York City loft, and they haven’t seen the light of day in over 40 years.

We’re launching this Kickstarter campaign to produce a limited edition, hand numbered box set with more than 12 CDs of the cream-of-the-crop interviews. Out of more than 150 interviews that we found, we’ve selected 18 incredible conversations for this boxed collection.

The Smith Tapes Box Set (Thanks, Jim!)


    1. Yeah.  Theoretically, I tend not to be opposed to anyone making a livelihood. But in a case like this, my feeling as a librarian (my own meager livelihood) is that Smith ought to do the decent thing and freely donate his interviews to the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, or any other archive of his choice, so that everyone can reap the benefits of his work, not just those few with $300 to spare. This is library material, and it’s churlish to charge for it.

      Of course, as soon as the box set is released, those files will quickly become freely available, to those with the wherewithal to seek and obtain them. Guess where people who don’t have computers or broadband connections go to do that sort of thing? ;-)

      1. Thinking about it further, I have no problem with the $300 price tag for the physical box set. Those who find that a reasonable price for the physical objects can choose to pay it. It’s the $80 for a digital version that seems wrong — or, at best, the bluest of blue-sky-thinking.

        1. I had the same initial thought Quiet Wyatt. 

          The $300 for the physical box set is cool, no problems with this. Now, the $80 for the digital version, I had your same thought at first, but then, I had another – no one is twisting the people’s arms to buy the digital version. If it’s worth it to them, they’ll pay it – but I think, most those interested in listening to these interviews know the alternate methods of getting them for free, save for those of us who must have it now-ish – b4 it’s posted in torrents or on Usenet ant etcetera. The $80 will be more of a donation, and I guess that more people will pay the 80 bucks than we might first think. On the other hand, if the digital version was 15 bucks, or whatever, they might make the same amount of returns and most who wish to hear these interviews wouldn’t feel the need to pursue alternate methods to acquire. Fuck, I don’t know…this is all very complex and economics isn’t my strength. For $300 though, the box set had better be fcuking spectacular –the sort of object that gives me that visual, olfactory, tactile, shiny, shaky feeling  of anticipation I felt as a child and teenager when I clawed open the shrink-wrap of an LP or single that was a gift, or one that I saved my allowance or wages for and rode my bike or scooter to buy. What parallels exist now? Plenty – the thrill of the hunt you know… 

          1. > If it’s worth it to them, they’ll pay it 

            *Everything* works like this. Health care, personal security, human rights: but that doesn’t make it right.

          2. Timmy, obviously most things work like this, and I agree that this doesn’t make it right.

            However, this isn’t _about_ health care, personal security, human rights and etcetera, it is about recorded interviews.  Please help me understand how your comment adds to this discussion. 

    1.  It’s a numbered limited-edition box-set with special covers. I imagine there’ll be a more commercial release, once all the work is done.

  1. “But expensive!”

    If anything was ever destined for usenet…

    But that doesn’t prevent one from donating a smaller amount.

    1.  While I think people over-state the appeal of drm-free sometimes, in this case I think you’re absolutely right.

      An $80 digital recording is guaranteed to become a torrent on day one.

  2. This is it! My first time to be really and  so spectacularly pissed off by any boingboing recommendation. I’m usually in sync, but this time -tawdry doesn’t begin to cover it: 

    TL:DR – so we have these tapes we could just release, but no wait! … we are going to use kick-starter (against all of its essential reasons for being) to create an artificial scarcity… so we can cash in on it big time… AND to hopefully make even HUGER bucks – guess what! ALL your donations are welcome!Since pledges are being solicited – could I pledge and ask others to pledge – to pirate and torrent this collection as soon as physically possible? After all – this is an extremely undeserving case…And shame on you Mr boingboing in chief…..

    1.  The man is 76 years old, and riddled with cancer. I reckon he’s allowed make money from his work any way he likes.

      Also, there’ll be 6-interview sets going on sale for $13.

      Would I do it differently? Definitely. Doesn’t make the man some sort of asshole for not doing things my way.

  3. There’s a lot of folk on here not reading before reacting.
    Some points to bear in mind.

    1. Every interview is going to be for sale individually on itunes once the project is done.
    2. The fancy box-sets are effectively art pieces, that’s why they’re limited.
    3. Kickstarter is NOT A SHOP. It’s for funding projects you want to give patronage. Value-for-money considerations are irrelevant and miss the point of Kickstarter.
    5. The man himself is 76, and has cancer, is he not entitled to a little comfort? He’s certainly entitled to do whatever the hell he wants with his own work.

    See also:

  4. The fact that Boing Boing is publishing this uncritically looks like a sign that we have given up the copyfight and accepted the “if value, then right” ideology of the intellectual property absolutists. It goes without saying and without question that cultural artefacts are intellectual property, belonging solely to an owner, whose absolute and inalienable right it is to monetise them optimally.

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