Boston music bloggers react to Google's mp3 blog takedown

By now you may have heard about Google's recent music-blog shutdown, where certain popular mp3 blogshave been removed from the internet altogether - and with notice only coming after the deletion had occurred. (Read Google's statement on the matter here, in which they apologize for deleting at least one blog without prior warning). In Boston, we have quite a few top-notch music blogs, so we thought we'd check in with them and get their thoughts on this whole situation. 

Ryan Spaulding, who runs the outstanding Ryan's Smashing Life blog along with a few other contributors, has a fairly unique perspective on this whole situation: Google has deleted some posts from RSL's archives in the past. He did not receive any warning or notice before the deletions. Spaulding calls the blog "an unfortunate pioneer and a victim of Blogger's mismanaged handling of their own incoherent takedown system." He mentions also that he is currently in the process of relocating RSL (which he says gets roughly 15,000 hits a week) to a different blogging platform - and to clarify Wired's report a bit, they haven't been completely deleted (yet). Here's the rest of his e-mail:

Some people think this is a licensing/rights issue. It may be in some instances, but for the majority of bloggers who care about musicians and the art they make - this debacle with Google is about heavy handed Big Brother cutting off your entire arm to trim a hangnail on your pinky finger.

It is with mixed feelings that I leave Blogger behind. It was a fantastic start for me and a tremendously worthwhile launch pad. The issue that I have, along with many others now, is that Google/Blogger appears to have grown past the point that customer service and realistic support are no longer primary objectives. They create software, they interweave it with other services, they get buy-in and then they basically abandon the platform (at least in terms of support) while they embark on new conquests.

So while I am still using the Google engine as you noted... I am no longer hosting on Google's servers - and am pleased to already have a fully operational beta mirror site now setup on a private Unix-platform server. We are all but moved now to Wordpress - the latest news only hastening our departure. The move, which should take place by the end of February is my safeguard to prevent any further material coming down and to provide greater stability/security.

Each of these reasons reflects my general loss of faith with Google/Blogger as a partner. Communication from Google is pretty much "Alpha Wave" only (they broadcast to you and don't listen much.) Stability and Security have been growing concerns. The alternatives - primarily Wordpress, are prettier, more streamlined, more intuitive, more personalizable - and there are no concerns about my creative material being deleted without notice.

Brad Searles runs Bradley's Almanac, a great blog with a live and local focus. He, too, has some concerns about remaining on the Blogger platform. His e-mail follows:

 I've been either very lucky or very diligent, probably a combination of both.  I've been using blogger for near a decade, and haven't had a single DMCA takedown notice hit the Almanac. Every once in awhile I stop by just out of curiosity, but so far, I'm in the clear.  I'm generally pretty conscientious about only sharing studio-recorded songs that have been approved by bands or labels, or checking with them first if I'm unsure.  And as far as sharing live stuff goes, I either get permission directly or make sure the band has a history of being cool with it.  I've probably avoided the watchful eye because I stay away from a lot of RIAA/IFPI-associated artists (both by choice and by taste).  I'm also a little safer than others, because although I use Blogger to publish my posts, I don't host my site at their Blogspot.  Still, all it takes is your own hosting company to act as blindly as Google has, and you're done.

I'll admit to becoming more nervous over the past couple of years, only because of the increasing inanity of the major label system and their apparent inability to get their digital acts together... the paranoia, and complete lack of in-company communication, would be funnier if it didn't start impacting fellow music bloggers so harshly.  The fact that those using (and hiding behind) the DMCA are issuing complaints against songs that have been pre-approved by their own associated labels and bands is obviously ridiculous.  Left hand, meet right hand, etc.

The shutdowns and deletions are scary stuff, especially given Google/Blogger's difficulties in coming up with an open, disputable process, and the fact that they don't just delete songs - I mean, years and years of your writing can just disappear in an instant.  Totally frightening.  The goofy part is that when Google takes you down, they usually don't even say what the offending MP3s were, and even if they did, rather than get a chance to remove it, you're just nuked.  I thought we'd be able to breathe a little easier after Google supposedly improved their DMCA-handling process last August, but this latest round shows there's still a lot of work to be done.

I'm not going to say they've turned their "Don't Be Evil" motto upside down, but a few more incidents like this and they'll have to think hard about changing it.  It's definitely been a rough couple weeks for Google, between this music blog debacle, their new 'Google Buzz' privacy issue, and their upcoming total abandonment of FTP uploading for all bloggers.  As someone who's been with them from the beginning, and has defended them in the past, it feels like they're finally forcing me out the door. I certainly didn't think I'd be marking my 10-year anniversary by bailing on my longtime blogging tool, but I'm not left with much of a choice.


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