It Was Free Cuz I Stole It

The year in unfair shares

Virtual Release: If legendary 78-collector Joe Bussard could plug an iBook directly into his Victrola, he'd be making these. This is real ghostly stuff sourced from unreleased sessions, radio broadcasts or repo'd master tapes. That's all time-honored bootleg chow, sure, but virtual releases go straight from the source to the file-shares, skipping physical media entirely. For instance: WFMU recently popularized a Faust album that never made it past a few Virgin Records promo tapes until someone copied it up to MP3. Companion to this are homemade virtual compilations — a stack of uncomped funk 45s, say — issued directly from the collector's originals to the file-shares with some kind of search-bait name like "MY HOT FUNK 45s." These albums are aimed at audiences so microscopic there's almost no profit in pressing up hard copies — and as such, they're usually pretty great.

Give It Away Now: Nobody can steal what you give away. A California band called Wooden Shjips put out an EP for free this past year; all you had to do was ask and there was a real record in your actual hands. And it was really good, too — blown-out Les Rallizes homage with vocals echoplexed to infinity. In fact, it was so good that I bought a copy with my own actual money, just for old times' sake.

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