MP3 Blogs: Recommended, and some practical/legal questions

As mentioned last week, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts and (legally) downloaded MP3s from MP3 blogs lately on my commute to and from work. There is even a new section on the sidebar towards the bottom for MP3 blogs and Podcasts.

The best "mainstream" media sources are the BBC show "In Our Time," WGBH-Boston's "Morning Stories," and virtually all of the original programming from KCRW-Los Angeles. (I've especially been enjoying "Bookworm" and "The Politics of Culture.")

WNYC-New York claims to be podcasting, but actually it seems to me that their XML feed isn't using downloadable enclosures. So no IPod, no IRiver -- and no podcast. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, and someone could show me how to download these correctly.

In terms of music MP3 blogs and amateur podcasters, it's becoming clear to me why ReelReviews (a classic movie review podcast) and Coverville are as popular as they are -- they have lots of interesting ideas, good taste, and a professional presentation. From a legal standpoint, I've gotten interested in how Brian Ibbott (of Coverville) operates; he says he licenses the songs he uses with ASCAP and BMI. Where does he send the checks? What
are the mechanics of it?

In terms of underground electronic music, the best podcasters seems to be Gutterbreakz and Knobtweakers. There is also a Japanese site called Music Forest that is good for mixtapes of UK Garage/Speed Garage (it's in Japanese, but you can use the "Translate this page" function in Google to sort of read along). Thanks to these people, I'm beginning to feel like I'm in touch with what's happening in genres like Electroclash, Grime, and the comparatively more obscure "Breakcore" and "Folktronica." A lot of the music on Gutterbreakz especially has a vibe that is vaguely 1981-ish... or maybe 1985-ish. (That means you, Julian.) This stuff is legal, I think, because the kind of music Gutterbreakz puts out is definitely not RIAA-protected. Some if it is produced on the computer of the blogger himself.

Funk You, 20 Jazz Funk Greats, and Soul Sides tend to put up MP3s that are copyright protected, and then take them down very quickly.

I'm enjoying the music, though I'm not sure how I feel about the strategy. This class of podcaster isn't really harming anyone, since the majority of what they offer is either out of print or quite difficult to find. No CDs are being not being bought that would have been bought otherwise. (In Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture taxonomy, they are "Category D" [see chapter 4 of Lessig's book])

Still, it would be better if these sites were able to pay a licensing fee to a centralized location, and then keep their offerings up permanently, without fear of attracting a lawsuit. Here's to hoping Lessig's manifesto for a saner licensing system comes to pass. (Without it, I don't see how the above sites, as excellent as they are, can continue for very long)

While I'm at it, I also want to re-recommend Avolta, which is putting up new podcasts of crazy Brazilian music more frequently than it was before. They also have a new site, which looks great.

Above all, the aggregator, which aggregates the recent postings of several dozen MP3 blogs from all around the world. You can discover a lot of new sites through this, though some of the sites abroad are of dubious legality.