I remember a time when blogs were a place where people shared things they had found with others and were met by enthusiastic comments and remarks by those who came to see what the hosts had found. I remember a lot of people whom i spoke to from many different venues, starting in various forums (many of which i can't even remember the names to anymore), and p2p networks like soulseek and emule, and torrent trackers like jpopsuki (all the way back to the original), and so on. Then there was the great blog boom where passionate archivists dug through the stacks of forgotten music and shared stuff that no one else had seen before.
One of the things I always treasured the most was when others asked me to find things for them. Often times it was things I had never heard of before. I was somehow attracted to these things, as if it was a piece of a puzzle that I was missing, and I would devote a great amount of time into tracking down these requests. I am reminded of this as I am writing, listening to one of those artists that was requested, Han-na, a female pop rocker from the late 80's, early 90's. I never was able to get my hands on any Han-na for the person who requested her years and years ago, but only just recently I was able to purchase a 3 song single by her, and, not surprisingly, I absolutely love it. Much of my own 'wish list' is in fact made up of things others have requested over the years, and I still uncover things from this list regularly. i never give up.
Admittedly, when I began my journey into japanese music I always had the approach of 'i'd rather hear it, than not' when it came to being picky about quality of rips. Then I joined what.cd, and after years of mish-mash rips and mutt rips and glitchy songs and poor quality, I sort of became obsessed with perfect rips and knowing where the rips came from and high quality. At the same time as I started caring about quality, it seems the rest of the internet went in the other direction. I mostly blame itunes for this, with their different standards, and everyone downloading flacs and alacs and mp3s and acc's.. i'm just glad oggs and that other stuff went away, or else things would be even crazier. it seemed that no one in the japanese music world cared where things came from or what the quality was. a lot of people only care about how many songs they can fit on their ipods, so 128s were even still a common rip. after 10 years of collecting and digging through the deepest corners of the internet, i got tired of all the sorting and sifting. i wanted the real thing.
so i started buying. for a long time i had wanted to buy things.. to fill in the holes that i couldn't find on the internet. but it was so damned expensive. but i didn't give up. and eventually i found ways to buy things cheaply. and i did. a lot. and so now in addition to the tens of thousands of albums that shit on my hard drives gathering virtual dust, i have over 3000 japanese cds and a few hundred vinyl on top of that. and i find myself with no proper way to share these with anyone. the blogs have all run dry as the internet police have shut down the various mules for files. the forums have all collapsed in disarray. the torrent trackers are either ghost towns of former japanese music lovers, or are thriving metropolises of people who don't give a shit about japanese music.
so where has all the love gone? i realize that many of us who were collectors, who were thirsty to uncover fresh music from the world beyond our borders have amassed giant collections that can last us a lifetime, and we really don't need any more. and the internet got so damn big and bottomless, that uncovering new music was so easy that it became overwhelming to keep track of. but my desire to share and connect and build a library, an archive, still burns. i do not amass a huge library simply to stare at and listen to it in isolation. i do it because i want other people to know it. so that we can talk about it, and be enthused by it. so that when we listen to that dusty album that has 6 listeners on last.fm we can realize that there are thousands of bands out there who never got their due. and maybe, just maybe, more people should get a chance to be exposed to them.
so what do we do? how do we move forward? how do we build the library?
In addition to the termination or degradation of most of the best ways to share files on places like blogs, i also lost the time for the blog when i tried something new with my life. i wont bore you with the details, but that chapter of my life, 3 years later, has come to a close. and i find myself back here, wishing things were like they used to be. i realize most of the regulars are long gone and may never stick there head back into this corner of the web... but who knows. so for the next couple of weeks as we lead up to the holidays, i am contemplating the best way to move forward. what do you think?