Comments and Contributions on Bluegrass Today

Following up on the recent post from Brad Harper about file trading of live show audio, in response to one by Megan Lynch, I want to add a few words about comments, and why we typically do not allow them on Bluegrass Today. I also want to explain a bit more about outside Guest Contributions, which we publish on occasion.

After Megan posted some strong feelings about trading live shows in her Guest Contribution on Wednesday (not in favor), we heard from readers who wanted to chime in, and were frustrated by the fact that, unlike many other blogs, we do not allow for comments. Brad Harper wrote in to share the fact that he had used his own blog to comment on her post (in favor of file trading), and agreed to allow us to re-publish his thoughts as a second Guest Contribution.

We continue to welcome Guest Contributions, both from folks working in the bluegrass/acoustic music industry, and from fans and amateur/semi-pro pickers who have something they want to share with our readers. Cogency, timeliness and the appropriateness of the subject matter will be crucial to them being accepted for publication, and prospective contributors are invited to contact us if they have an interest in composing a brief essay for publication.

We have generally eschewed comments for individual posts for several reasons. Initially, we wanted to avoid the sort of “Shut up!” and “What an idiot!!” responses that are too often a big part of blog commenting. We did try comments on certain posts where we felt like it would be appropriate, but required that commenters be registered as users on our site, use their actual names in any comments they wish to make, and that they be moderated by Bluegrass Today before they appeared on the site.

As it transpired, not many of our readers felt the compulsion to post comments, perhaps because of those restrictions, so we have gradually discontinued enabling them. In response to some reader requests, however, both of the posts referenced above have now been enabled to allow for reader comments, and anyone who wishes to chime in is welcome to do so, as long as you are willing to abide by our comment policies.

All comments are moderated and must be approved before publication, and anonymous comments will not be allowed. We want to foster conversation via opinion posts, but insist that it be open, civil and clearly credited.

In the past few months, we have also discovered that a pernicious spambot was able to penetrate our registration filter and post some plainly vile pornographic links as comments. Of course, since the comments require moderation, none of them get through to your eyes, but it both further soured us on comments, and got us thinking in a new direction where reader participation is concerned.

We are currently developing a major upgrade to Bluegrass Today that will allow our readers to be more active in discussions of posts we publish here. Look for more news about The B in the next few weeks.

Follow-up, 10:15 a.m.: Commenting has been enabled for this post as well, should anyone wish to add a thought.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • Bluegrass as a whole may in fact benefit from trading live shows, but it is stealing from publishers, writers, and labels. MOST writers get pennies on the dollar as it is for all the work they do. Its against the law, its stealing, and you can attempt to justify it any way you want, but its stealing from writers. Period. And thats WRONG.

    Secondly, saying you are helping the artist by putting his/her work out in the public eye is questionable. No studies back up the claim. None. Marketing research shows the opposite. If it helped, the major labels would have jumped on that ploy years ago.

    But thats beside the point. Any time you disseminate intellectual property to the masses without funneling remuneration back to its creator, you are stealing. If you believe stealing is OK, then we live in two different worlds.

    Kip Martin

  • Amanda GS

    It’s great that you care about our posts and their quality. Thank you for taking the time to approve all comments. The concern is appreciated!

  • It’s a good idea to publish comments, especially with the provisions you have stated. Whether anyone reads comments on blogs or if they merely provide a forum for people to vent is an open question. I suspect the latter. – Ted Lehmann

  • Mr. Kip Martin–If I go see a band, record the show and upload it to bluegrassbox, and they happen to play 100% public domain tunes in their set, is that still stealing? And with the opinions you have stated above, why do you have a link to etree on your website? Just wondering.

  • Eric Frommer

    First I am a trader not a taper. Aside from my live shows that i have in my collection I also have purchased over 1500(including a Fox Family CD) cd’s and a quite a few videos. I also attend the majority of the bluegrass shows up here in the Pacific Northwest(which as opposed to the East are not available every night. I think bands should try and face the reality that it exists and use it to their benefit.Some of the bands that realize it is a reality have learned to use it as a marketing tool. At live shows plug your upcoming performances and website.Ask for people to support the music through cd sales and t-shirt sales. Some bluegrass bands take a long time between releases and people would like to hear some music from them. I believe it is 6 years now since J.D. Crowe has released a new release. The idea that people are just out for free music is not really valid. A taper spends often a thousand or more on equipment. Far from free.Maybe bluegrass in general needs to rethink the way it markets itself. I do marketing for a mortgage company. I understand that the music is a business and that musicians need to make a living. But not everything can be a profit center. As a mortgage company we provide information and various printed items to realtors and customers for free every day. It is part of doing business hoping that down the road we make a sale and commision large enough to cover not just the cost of the print items but also our time. We work on referrals. Look at the live show as a promo and hope it is given to many people. Hopefully one of your shows will wind up in a bar owners hand or a dj who has not heard of you or a festival promoter. Bands like Tim Obrien, Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Yonder Mountain(the best marketers I have seen. Posters,tshirts,keychains,etc)Have learned the money is in the live shows. Bela Fleck discussed this on the front page of USA Today.Just google Bela and USA Today and you will find the article. Sorry about the rambling and length of the response. I will leave the legality issue to others.
    Eric Frommer in Everett, WA

  • Joseph Dalfonzo

    Dear Eric: “the reality that exists”… What a sad commentary. Let’s extend that logic and suppose that my reality is that I covet your banjo or your tape equipment. Are you just going to hand it over to me or might you object? And while you may well share information that supports referrals, I’ll wager it’s all public domain stuff like interest rates, property descriptions and specific mortgage offerings. Finally, your investment in equipment does nothing to pay the mortgage or put food on the table of a struggling artist. An artist may well decide to allow taping or sharing or other “innovative marketing strategies” but the point is that the material is his intellectual property and only he has the right to release it. joeyd