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jason on 08/22/2012 at 11:00AM

The Rise & Fall of MP3 Blogs — guest post by Casey Rae

SmahsedcansThe history of the MP3 is one of technological innovation, consumer demand and all-too-persistent litigation, often against those very consumers who embraced the format in the heady post-Napster days. The story of this resilient digital audio file has been recounted many times — from the recording industry’s early wars of attrition to the MP3s role in the filesharing explosion to the bloggers who help curate an oversaturated music marketplace.

What doesn’t garner as much discussion is how the MP3 format — celebrated, reviled or somewhere in-between — has come to define the digital music experience, both for millions of listeners, and for those who help drive discovery. At one point, not so long ago, music bloggers sat near the top of the curatorial heap, using MP3s to help create overnight stars out of teenage indie rockers. Others highlighted niche genres and aural nuggets from decades past.

At first, MP3 bloggers were seen by the industry as freeloading pariahs, but eventually even the major labels came to embrace this segment of the online music community. Seeking a promotional fast track, the PR flaks hit the blogosphere hard, cultivating relationships with known tastemakers. Eventually, the pursuit of musical passion became a business concern, or at worse, a hassle.

I was a full-time music writer back when CDs were the promotional norm. Over the course of time, the padded envelopes slowed to a trickle and my inbox was flooded with MP3s from labels and publicists. It was frankly hard to keep up. The annoyance factor eventually contributed to my decision to do something different with my life.

I know I’m not alone. Looking around these days, you could be forgiven for thinking the “music blogger bubble” has popped. There are likely several reasons beyond inbox fatigue. The rise of “social music” — where friend networks replace curation via instant “recommendations” on platforms like Facebook — surely has something to do with it. But listening habits are also changing. No longer is downloading necessarily the fastest and most convenient way to get your musical fix.

When thinking about the future for MP3 blogging, it’s instructive to consider how younger generations discover and access music. The listening behaviors of those under 20 can tell us a lot about how aspects of our networked world might evolve. A new Nielsen survey suggests that YouTube has overtaken radio and CDs as the primary way American teens listen to music. At 64 percent, YouTube listening is even ahead of iTunes, which comes in at just over 50 percent. YouTube, is of course, a “streaming” platform, which presents a potential challenge to downloading culture.

In other words, streaming access is rapidly becoming a norm. Recent reports show that Warner Music now counts streaming as 25 percent of its overall digital music revenue. This is certainly significant for a sector that has struggled for more than a decade with the implications of online music.

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radio free culture
dvd on 08/21/2012 at 11:15AM

MP3 of the Day: Michael Chapman & The Woodpiles, "A Stranger's Map of Texas"

This latest installment of the NATCH series produced by Black Dirt Studios is a real winner. Michael Chapman, elder statesman of British Folk, is joined by American freeform stalwarts Steve Gunn, Marc Orleans, Nathan Bowles, and Jimy SeiTang. As expected with a group like this, the recordings veer into psychedlic accoustic explorations quickly and stay there.

Tune in for some excellent freeform folk and psych-folk by some of the biggest names on the scene. 

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dvd on 08/17/2012 at 10:00AM

MP3 of the Day: Blue Sabbath Black Fiji, "Hot On The Wheels Of Love"

Glaswegian duo Blue Sabbath Black Fiji create quite an amalgamation of sounds. Using guitars and electronics, the group blasts noisy constructions with hints of disco beats laying just beneath the surface. Their latest release on We Have No Zen! is a bit of a pre-flight departure, "a collection of unreleased psychedlic pre-boogie jam[s]." 

Originally titled Space Satan, the album deals with all things cosmic. This track really stands apart, not only from the rest of the collection, but from the typical BSBF fare -- an ambient voyage that is all too rare in what is usually a noisy universe. 

Blue Sabbath Black Fiji at:

Free Music Archive | Myspace | Facebook | Bandcamp

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lizziedavis on 08/16/2012 at 12:00PM

MP3 of the Day: Radioactive Pussy, "Fuck Nukes!"

photoRadioactive Pussy is audio activist performance art at its finest and simultaneously most raw. Utilizing the folk traditions of the past and updating them with current situations, the issues and music they present are intended to activate and generally motivate the listener. (via.) The band includes experimental stalwart Chuck Bettis as well as Yuko Tonohira, cofounder of Todos Somos Japon, a group that communicates political dialogues among people in and outside of Japan through the bilingual website

Radioactive Pussy held their first performance on July 24th, 2012 at NYC's Zebulon. You can find the whole set here on the FMA. Listen to one of the "raw documents" of the political performance below in the form of "Fuck Nukes!"

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dvd on 08/14/2012 at 12:00PM

MP3 of the Day: Tyrannosaurus Dracula, "Upsidedown Stars"

Tyrannosaurus Dracula, affectionately known as 'T-Drac' is "a molten melding of Acid Rock and Punk: Blue Cheer, Pentagram VS Black Flag, Birthday Party mixed in a rusty bathtub with beer, sloppy prog-rock and cheap magic tricks." (via

A project from William Hellfire (profiled here), expect dirty 4-tracked psych-blooze with a gut. Be sure to check out the whole compilation, Headphone Hospital, from SLR.

Tyrannosaurus Dracula on:

Free Music Archive | Soundcloud | Myspace 

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dvd on 08/13/2012 at 11:45AM

MP3 of the Day: Aaron Ximm, "Idle Hands"

Aaron Ximm's work as Quiet American showcases an extreme attention to the audible environment with a massive collection of over 90 hours of field recordings available for free download under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. With many more unreleased recordings, these sounds follow Aaron's travels around Vietnam, Fiji, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Nepal.

This release sees Ximm going in a slightly different direction - an album of instrumental pieces played on the Hang, an instrument similiar to a steel drum, made from two sheets of pitched steel. The sound is ethereal and meditative, a unique and fitting addition to his cannon of recordings. 

Aaron Ximm at: Free Music Archive | Quiet American | Twitter

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dvd on 08/10/2012 at 12:30PM

MP3 of the Day: Telegraphy, "Tropospheric Wave Guide"

Richard Sudney is a sound designer, producer, photographer, artist, inquisitive electronics expert, fringe researcher, and eccentric collector of antique wireless communication equipment. Oh yeah, he also puts out beautiful electronic compositions under the name Telegraphy from his hometown in Detroit.

The sole proprietor and artist at Ionosonde-Recordings, his latest release Spiricom hit the FMA last month. Check out the closing track for some blissful ambient waves.

Telegraphy at:

Free Music Archive | WWW | Myspace

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dvd on 08/09/2012 at 01:00PM

MP3 of the Day: Weyes Blood, "Candyboy"

Damaged folk with nods to DIY experimentation, mourning drones, and ecstatic noise. Weyes Blood's output is reminiscent of the work of Grouper, but where Liz Harris' noise-tinged vocal deliveries recall a fallen angel, Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering) has been to hell and back again; and is here to tell us about it through cathartic distortion and dark harmonies. Captivating and emotional, Weyes Blood is not to be missed. 

Weyes Blood at:

Free Music Archive | Myspace | Facebook

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folk, fmamp3, noise, weyes blood
dvd on 08/08/2012 at 12:30PM

MP3 of the Day: Volcano the Bear, "baby photos"

Volcano the Bear have been releasing experimental and improvisational music since the mid-90s. A hiatus 10 years ago saw the group's various members pursue other projects, including Nick Mott & Aaron Moore's Songs of Norway, and Clarence Manuelo's Earth Trumpet.

In 2006 they got back together to release Classic Erasmus Fusion to much praise, and earlier this year they released their newest gem Golden Rhythm/Ink Music. As you can probably tell by the abundance of links in this post, they have made the vast majority of these recordings available for download right here at the FMA. Check out the Volcano the Bear page for a large selection of the group's past releases, and be sure to check out the related artists, where you'll find the many side projects of Aaron Moore and other projects related to the band. For a taste, check out this track from their newest album below! 

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dvd on 08/07/2012 at 01:00PM

MP3 of the Day: Björn & Gorden, "Model, Job, Metro, Time Square"

Björn & Gorden have been releasing their Post-Rock tunes under the Headphonica label for a couple years, with each album moving into new musical territories. Their latest release Autumnica leans heavily to the electronica side, providing a depth and ambience that works in harmony with sparse post-rock guitar sounds. Add in a little vocoder and hey, you've got yourself the perfect soundtrack for sitting in the corner of your empty white-washed loft and staring at the exposed girders above. 

Björn & Gorden at:

Free Music Archive | Facebook | WWW | Soundcloud

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