I stumbled upon the Sharity concept recently while reading several music blogs. It really demonstrates an idea which I have had insistently in mind for some months already: the power of technology for preserving and spreading pieces of culture which would otherwise be destroyed or completely forgotten forever. I somehow link it with Negroponte’s words about distribution of atoms and bits, and it’s really a very good application of the advantages of the digital age he wrote about in his Being Digital book.
There isn’t a definition in wikipedia or anything for this word but it’s pretty immediate to come out with its etymology: Sharity = Sharing + Charity. Basically it’s about music lovers sharing music they like, so that more people get to know about it.
I have found lots of these pages – and I wish I had time for browsing all of them!
Most of them are entire digital samplings of old vinyl records which have been out of print for years: you can perfectly hear those pop’s and clicks that unequivocally speak about those recordings origin. Some are carefully cleaned prior to being ripped; even so, it looks so delicately done than one feels somehow aggressive about using rip for describing that process. Most of them include a cover scan, or maybe if it’s lost or damaged, new cover art is specially handcrafted for each release.
Some blogs specialize in boot sales music, or horror movies music, to say some bizarre examples which come to mind. And all of them denote big love for music, a passion which is not seen on record labels too often, more focused on maximizing the benefits of their current, easy to consume music inversions.
Labels might not be too keen on their back back back catalogue being shamelessly ripped and freely distributed, and that is pretty stupid, I think, and even obstructive, because if those recordings weren’t patiently rescued from the realms of oblivion, they would never get played again. EVER.
So I personally can’t but applaud their hard work, which allows us to hear unexpected little jewels covering music genres that you wouldn’t ever dream of, and pay somehow a late tribute to those (sometimes) unknown composers.
But – there’s always a but! Because these works have been out of print for years but they are not yet in the public domain they can’t be uploaded to archive.org or any of the decent hosting sites which would allow us to preserve culture in a less annoying way than volatile sites such as rapidshare, megaupload, etc, which is where these guys have to upload their jewels (or risk being prosecuted by jealous labels). And the best of all is that the labels aren’t interested in reprinting these works. They would lose money for sure and even if these people are not doing them any financial harm, I bet they would absolutely try to stop and destroy these blogs as soon as they could.
And now, time to form yourself an opinion by having a look at some of these sites:
- Orgy in rhythm – focusing in jazz and rare jazz records fundamentally
- That truncheon thing – they write about lots of styles but focusing around rock & decent pop. Has access to an amazing collection of bootlegs and I found some early, quasi pirate and unofficial, works of superstars such as REM here
- Universal Horror Sounds – if I have to choose a niche sharity blog, I must link to this page, dedicated to 30’s – 40’s horror movies and music. They might look naive but they mean a lot for nowadays culture!
- Vinyl Room – an amazing compilation of instrumental music with the vinyl warmth featuring even oddities such an album entirely played with an early ARP synthesizer.
All these pages link to dozens more which I guess am right in assuming that in fact link to dozens more; I haven’t had time yet to explore all of them so maybe I am missing something super! Let me know in that case; comments are free! :-)
I hope you enjoy this Sharity concept. It makes me wish I had some old vinyls or recordings to share!