Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is It Live...or Internet Archive

Say you are a person that likes music. No, I mean it...Say it! Good. As person that likes music you probably find yourself in the mood for live music every once in a while. So you head down to you favorite music establishment to enjoy a show. But what if there is no one good playing or maybe you are stuck at work?

Fear not, you can still enjoy some good live recordings courtesy Internet Archive.

If you don't know what Internet Archive - it is basically an on-line repository for as much Public Domain digital information that they can get their hands on. Music, Videos, Books, Software...they have a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, I think they really need to work on their interface and make the information easier to find. They are making improvements. I've been playing with their live music archive for a couple years now and the embedded player (on many recordings), the ability to review quality, etc...are all great improvements.

The improvement...or at least the tip that I found the most useful was using this link to browse live music...instead of a huge 80,000+ item list, you can just browse through all artists. This alone has save me hours of time looking through the archive and helped me find many things that I might not have come across before.

So what do you find on Internet Archive? A little bit of everything...but mostly smaller bands. Since they try to get the permission from the bands before music can be uploaded for public consumption you are mostly going to encounter "Recording Friendly" artists. Unfortunately, this knocks out many big name artists by default. Can you imagine Metallica giving the OK to post their live shows? Yeah, me neither. You are probably also not going to find some long lost Beatles live know those get turned into cash. So mostly it is mid to small-size popularity bands. Note, this doesn't mean bad (although yes there is plenty on their that I don't care for either), it just means that they didn't achieve mass market commercial success.

There are exceptions if a mainstream artist has a Pro-recording stance - Smashing Pumpkins there are 369 live show recordings and The Grateful Dead has 7,273 shows on Internet Archive at the moment. These are extreme examples most bands with only have a few shows: Harvey Danger = 7 shows, Blind Melon = 14, Tenacious D = 33. Your mileage may vary on your musical tastes. I have found hours and hours of music to occupy my time...some has been high quality recordings taken directly from the soundboard to handheld recorders in someone's pocket.

The Internet Archive does have issues - the interface issues mentioned above and some standardization of the items posted - formats can vary all over the map, sometimes whole shows are one file, sometimes they are broken into songs(although they have gone a long way over the past year to fix a lot of this.). The thing that drives me the craziest is the naming and alphabitization of artists...Some artists have "The" at the beginning of their The Beatles (as stated earlier you will not find The Beatles..."The" or otherwise). You would never go into a store and look for the The Beatles under T for would obviously look under B. Many artists in IA (Internet Archive not Iowa) are alphabetized by T for The...The only band that should be categorized this way would be The The. Also alphabetization happens by first name instead of last. John Mayer is under John instead of Mayer. Its not a huge issue but one that I think needs to be addressed at some point. The faults do not overshadow the good that these people do.

I urge everyone to to go Internet Archive and look up some live shows from their favorite artists or try something new. There really is a little bit for everyone. Remember it is all free and legal!

Today I enjoyed this Harvey Danger show....sorry, I told you I was on an HD kick.

(removed embedded player since it was very slow to load, you can find the show here - Gubby 02/02/2010)

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