15 August 2006

Music Industry up to Old Tricks...

As usual ArsTechnica is right on the button with Nate Anderson's article about the music industry's efforts at shutting down the guitar tab sites.

Guitar tab sites (at least those I've visited) primarily get their information from fans and enthusiasts essentially "reverse engineering" the song into its components. It provides a good way to get into a song that you like, and hone your guitar skills at the same time (if I had any that was!). There is variable quality and accuracy, but most allow you to play along with a song without having to laboriously work it out yourself. I have used them many times for my own personal enjoyment. I would never have considered paying for such material, but most likely for the bands I like, such material isn't available and certainly wouldn't be available in anything like the way the internet can provide it. The music I've played I also own on CD, and I enjoy it that much more because I now understand a few more nuances of it. None of the guitar tabs I've ever seen represent original copies supplied by the band itself. It's like someone's rather poor water colour copy of a Constable.

If there was a valid, paid-for, endorsed tab available per song (rather than buying a whole album's worth), and on the internet, then maybe I would consider it at a fair price (think 50pence per song if I own the song, maybe more if I don't). But there isn't, as far as I know. I'm not driving 30 miles to my guitar shop on the off-chance they have the sheet music I want, then paying £10 or more for it, only to find it's too difficult and I never play it again!

This is another pathetic kill-joy attempt by the estabished music industry to kick its fans where it hurts. It will only hasten its slide into oblivion with a new world order emerging connecting bands more directly with their fans and cutting out the fat, slothful middlemen. While I've never downloaded illegal music, I would certainly consider participation in some sort of P2P network to help keep this going.

Anyone care to defend the music industry on this?

Tags: , , ,


Anonymous said...

You mentioned that there aren't any legal places to pay for and download guitar tab online, but that actually isn't the case. Check out sites like www.musicnotes.com and www.sheetmusicdirect.com for legal, downloadable guitar tablature.

Neither one has a tremendously large catalog (although Musicnotes offers quite a bit more than Sheet Music Direct), however their catalogs are continually growing to offer more and more material.

Ian Hobson said...

Thanks anonymous,

I hadn't obviously done any research. The sites you identified are interesting. But really, I could never conceive of paying almost $5 so I can try a few chords of a song at home! And the selections of both are pitiful - proving one of the points in the post and in the Ars Technica original.

I still maintain my original point (not said so precisely perhaps) that the music industry has its head up its ass! This sort of behaviour does not lead to an outcome that is desirable for the artists concerned.