You may notice that there's something familiar about the above LP covers ... and there's also something different about them.
These covers originate from this blog and they all have a rather large and intrusive logo plastered across them:
I found all of the above albums for sale on the digital download section of Amazon. Material from this blog is not only for sale on that site but also turns up on Napster and streaming music services like Spotify and even iTunes.
A while back I became aware that the occasional home made compilation from this blog was turning up on commercial sites, either for streaming or downloading. "Jump & Jive On 78" turned up on Spotify, and El Enmascarado (who ripped the sides from shellac discs) and myself had a bit of a laugh about the spread of a download-for-free comp into the commercial world.
It's maybe not so funny when you notice that an outfit called Git It Records claims they own the copyright on the collection. And it's even less funny when you find the same comp is being sold by Git It Records on Amazon.
Still, it was only an isolated incident, and little harm done. In fact I felt flattered to see my home made cover up there among genuine commercial releases.
Within the last few days I have discovered that the selling-on of albums from this blog for commercial gain is no longer an occasional occurrence. It is now happening regularly and systematically. Most of the albums I have posted in the last few months are being offered for sale by a company called TP4 Music.
I was on Spotify the other night, hoping to listen to some Mar-Keys tracks to help me decide whether or not to buy a CD, when I came across the Al Sears "Ride The D Train" album, which I had posted on Be Bop Wino last April 1st.
I was puzzled, as this is an album which has never been commercially available. It was actually a home made compilation made up to look like a Saxophonograph LP as an April Fool joke. Examination of the cover on Spotify showed that a large, ugly logo had been superimposed on the cover and the "Saxophonograph" label had been removed.
Further searches around Spotify uncovered more albums from this blog, all with the original issuing company logos removed and the TP4 logo superimposed. Google searches showed that more than 30 albums from this site are on various streaming services or are even being sold for download.
I also came across a post from the "Forgotten Masterpieces" blog (31st August) in which the blogmaster called out TP4 Music for selling albums from his blog. "Forgotten Masterpieces" specializes in 1950s and 1960s light orchestral pop (Semprini, Frank Chacksfield, Mantovani, etc) and big band music from the same era (Ray Anthony, Ted Heath, etc).
A search for TP4 Music in the digital music section of Amazon (UK branch) yields 4,175 results. That's 169 pages of mp3 albums for sale. The vast majority are recognizable as vintage 1950s / early 1960s LPs with that intrusive logo splashed across the front. Many are of the kind of music posted on "Forgotten Masterpieces", while others are jazz, r&b, exotica, pop, rock 'n' roll, and even early surf music.
I've looked through all the search results and I suspect that some of these albums may have been downloaded from blogs. I've also come to the conclusion that most of the music being sold by TP4 is probably at least 50 years old. In the UK music released in 1962 and before is in the public domain.
Some might say, "so what?" After all, when I upload music to Be Bop Wino it is "out there" on the web, and anything can be done with it. However, there are a few reasons why I'm feeling a bit fed up.
1. Selling these rips and scans runs contrary to the ethos of this blog. The music posted here is available for free. It is posted with the intention of raising interest in largely forgotten styles of music. I frequently try to steer readers towards legitimate commercial releases.
2. There is no commercial intent in this blog. It is advert free and I do not solicit donations. The contributors to this blog are here to "educate and entertain."
3. The mp3s posted on this blog are ripped from vinyl and shellac (often in not very good condition) by non-professionals using basic equipment. They are for home use and are not of a standard which is suitable for selling. Anyone paying for these mp3s would be justified in feeling that they were not getting value for their money.
Here's an example of that last point. Two mp3 downloads of Buster Brown and B. Brown - one from a commercial reissue company, Jasmine. The other taken from this blog:
Jasmine version - 28 tracks, sleevenotes, professional production. Cost = £6.49 for a download or £6.55 for the CD from Marketplace.
TP4 version taken from Be Bop Wino - 15 tracks, many ripped from crackly 45s by Joan, this blog's longest standing contributor. Amateur cover art by myself which took about 5 minutes to produce. Cost = £5.49.
It's no contest. The Jasmine CD (which was recommended on the Be Bop Wino post) wins by a mile, as does the Jasmine download. In this case the TP4 download looks like a ripoff. Caveat emptor.
The rips on Be Bop Wino were never intended to be used for commercial gain. They were not created to compete with music reissue companies, and are not of a commercial standard.
There is no link whatsoever between this blog and companies offering music from here for sale. This was done entirely without my knowledge or approval. If asked, I certainly would not have approved of the selling of any material from this blog.
At the moment I am undecided on whether I should continue to post albums. The fact that people are waiting to scoop up the music and use it to profit from the efforts of myself and other enthusiasts is a real joykiller. It takes the fun out of blogging and fun was the reason I started Be Bop Wino.