Thursday, June 08, 2006

FestivaLink download sampler

I finally got around to downloading the three gift songs from FestivaLink's MerleFest collection. Included are "I'm A Givin' Way" from Laura Love, "Honky Tonk Habit" from The Wilders, and "River Take Me" from Darrell Scott, all excerpted from their complete main stage shows at last month's MerleFest.

The recording quality is excellent and download process is exceptionally easy. The MP3s imported into my iTune library with full metadata included, a nice extra that is not the case with many online downloads. Of the three, the Darrell Scott track is a must-have, an inspired 10-1/2 minute version of his classic song.

The downloads are a teaser for FestivaLink's catalog of 20 or so complete performances from MerleFest. (Register with the site to qualify for the gift.) The full performances are available at a per-download fee of $15.95 in FLAC format or $10.95 in MP3 format. Each download includes a CD label and booklet in PDF format with complete performer and song information.

While I like the idea of of making festival performances available in a system that compensates both the artist and the festival, the prices seem too high to generate substantial business. I'd be much more tempted if a package deal was offered that let me select, say, three performances for about $25 or all festival recordings for $100.

At the current price, the only downloads I might buy would be unique collaborations that are not duplicated elsewhere. In the FestivaLink catalog, the one such performance would be the Waybacks set with special guest Bob Weir. That show is listed in the catalog as "coming soon" but not yet available.

I'll be watching closely to see what further progress FestivaLInk makes in signing up more festivals (for now, MerleFest 2006 is the only festival available), and to see if there is any downward movement in its pricing. As things stand now, I don't see it having a big impact on the amateur tape-trading market.

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