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Something Phishy going on


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By Geoff Martin, posted 3/2/2003 11:36:54 AM

Something Phishy going on


Fans of the jam-rock band Phish have long been following the band on tour, and freely trading copies of live performances (with the band's blessing) in the grand tradition first inspired by devotees of The Grateful Dead. Now, in addition to hopefully making a buck or two for themselves, the band is aiming to make it easier for fans to get their hands on copies of their live shows, by making copies available in the form of paid downloads from the band's official Web site.

Visitors to www.phish.com can now enter a special section offering digital versions of their concerts taped directly from venue soundboards for a fee of US$10 to $13. The shows are often posted as quickly as 48 hours after the final encore has been played and come with specially designed cover art that paying fans can print out and add to their collection after burning a CD. The concerts are available in either MP3 format, or Shorten (SHN) files, which is a so-called "lossless" format for true audiophiles. There are no restrictions on the files after they've been downloaded (unlike the products of other online music services), which means that a user can burn the files onto CDs, transfer them to portable digital audio players or listen to them on a computer as often as they choose.

The band still has the most open taping policy in effect since the demise of The Grateful Dead, which allows for fans to tape any show they wish to, as well as to trade any show with other fans, as long as no money is exchanged. Happily, even though they are now providing downloads for a fee from their official site, this policy remains in effect -- the band says it simply wishes to provide fans who have not yet cracked into the trading underground with an opportunity to get their hands on decent copies of the live Phish experience.

From all angles, it looks like a wise and magnanimous gesture from a band who was already the long-reigning "World's Most-Wired Band," as declared by Rolling Stone magazine.

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