Back in 1998-1999, when the mp3 file trading scene really was like the wild wild west, no one really had much idea how to treat the phenomenon. Sure, labels and artists weren’t keen on infinitely duplicatable copies of their music being sent around, but there was also a free wheeling sense to see what would become of the phenomenon, even among established acts.
Take Soul Coughing. For several months during that time, the band was in the habit of putting mp3s on the now-defunct 5% Nation site soulcoughing.com. It was great; free downloads of rarities, remixes and live tracks. That party didn’t last too long though. Financial concerns got in the way, as the band wondered how this free distribution would affect any potential future albums.
Here’s the Wayback Machine’s archive of the takedown notice.
In a way, the move was prescient of the concerns of the digital distribution of music era. It is similar to the way that The Grateful Dead supplied archive.org with soundboard recordings of their live shows, only to remove them when iTunes Music Store model showed that there was money to be made.
So the files went away and were replaced by time-limited Liquid Audio files remember those?, but not before a humorous cover of The Coffee Song made it into the wild. Written by Bob Hilliard and Richard Miles and made famous be Frankie “Blue Eye” Sinatra, the song is an ode to a certain Brazilian cash crop.[audio:061126CoffeeSong.mp3]