First of all, I want to thank all of you who have commented, sent e-mail, or called since Friday. For the record, I’m not distraught about all this â€” the weather was just too nice for any bad vibes this weekend â€” but I still deeply appreciate all the support.
I’m still trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my mp3 host, believe it or not, but let me tell you what I (think I) know:
1. My account with said host (hereafter referred to as “Dreamhost”) appears to still be in good standing.
2. No one at customer service seems to have a clue as to what’s going on.
That’s the Reader’s Digest version. The more detailed account includes multiple rounds of e-mails between myself and a neverending parade of cheerful, completely unhelpful customer service drones who have told me, in loose order, that my site was getting ‘too many hits’ and had to be throttled; that the server crashed and they apologize; and that there is no record indicating that any files were deleted, quarantined, or otherwise tampered with. I actually went into the backups this morning, and they’re as clean as a whistle.
On the other hand, Dreamhost still shows me using roughly 700 MB of disk space, which would seem to indicate that those files are somewhere. So either someone quarantined every single mp3 on the server and then didn’t make a note of it or tell anyone, or there’s something seriously wrong at Dreamhost. Actually, either way I’d say there’s something wrong.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I’m really not sure we were shut down by the fun police on Friday. I can tell you that yes, I posted a lot of stuff that day, but the site was down when most of it went live. In other words, everything went splat not long after the mixtape went up; I don’t think anyone was able to download either Bootleg City. Moreover, looking at the site stats, it doesn’t seem like traffic was at all out of the ordinary on Friday. To put it another way, what happened Friday was not a bandwidth issue; Dreamhost gives me a lot more disk space and a lot more bandwidth than I use.
But this does lead us, in a roundabout way, to the silliness at the heart of the mp3-blog matter, which is that for as long as I’ve done this (and as long as I continue to do it), I have to worry about being too popular. Which is stuuuuuuu-pid. Put another way, all of you who have volunteered donations, or your undying affection for these posts, are truly wonderful. But it isn’t about money, or feeling unappreciated. I have terrific readers. It’s about being realistic â€” I’ve gone through three hosts in the last year, and I’ve never averaged more than 1700 unique visits a day. That’s a drop in the bucket when compared with the truly big dogs of the mp3-blogging world, but hosting is still a constant headache, and every time I post something, I have to think about how much traffic it will draw.
A lot of you have suggested that I keep doing this without the mp3s, because you come here for the writing and you don’t download them anyway. That’s awfully kind of you. As has been noted in the comments section already, though, writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and when I write about someone like A’me Lorain or Joe Henry, the whole point is for you to be able to hear it (and then buy it, in Henry’s case). I could be the best music writer on the planet, but if you can’t hear what I’m writing about here, then where are you going to hear it? And why would you buy it otherwise?
But back to Friday.
As far as I can tell, what happened Friday was not caused by the RIAA (not directly, anyway). It was not caused by a shortage of bandwidth or server space. It was caused either by gross ineptitude at Dreamhost (and after what happened at MamaPop! not long ago, that could certainly be the case) or someone discovering my mp3 stash, freaking out, and erasing everything from the servers and the backups.
I’m not Blackbeard, trying to wage a pirate’s war against the system. I acknowledge that the law is not on my side here. And for as long as this blog’s been around, I’ve been holding a finger to the wind, trying to figure out where the great filesharing debate will end up. I know a lot of people think filesharing in any form is evil, but a lot of people also thought dual-deck tape recorders were evil, and CD burners, and used CD stores:you get the point. Anyway, if I can’t find a host who will take my money and leave me alone until I do something that actually prompts a legal complaint, then my two options are to either close up shop, or to resign myself to paying for a new host every few days/weeks/months/whatever.
Neither choice is very appealing, needless to say.
Again, to those of you who commented, posted on your own sites, or gotten in touch in any way, as always, I’m humbled and gratified by your attention. I’m still trying to figure out what my next step will be. If it does turn out that I can keep things going â€” and I do hope I can â€” then I definitely will. As some of you have noted, every time I think I’m going to cut back here, I wind up posting more than ever. I enjoy this place as much as you do.