It's the dreaded "dog days of summer," I guess — it's one of those rare weeks when there's really not much on the new release list to talk about. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about. When lacking things to buy in-store there's the burgeoning option of online purchases, and I'm not talking about Amazon.com and their ilk. I'll use these opportunities to talk about those options. Today it's one of my favorites.
The first that I'm aware of, and possibly most important, is King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp's brainchild, Discipline Global Mobile (DGM) and its new offshoot, DGMLive.com. DGM was formed in the '90s when Fripp, frustrated with the increasingly hostile situation with regular record labels, decided that he needed his own outlet for music. As the decade wore on, he divorced himself more and more from standard label procedures until he was able to produce music the way he wished to, then farm it out to the labels for distribution, if necessary (as in the case of King Crimson's bigger releases), or release them himself.
Much of the label's output, however, has been in the form of live archival releases of King Crimson material under the King Crimson Collector's Club moniker. At first this club functioned as a subscription-only deal: the subscribers each paid a chunk of money up front and for about a year would receive a number of exclusive live releases by the band, with the ability to opt out of any particular release if it didn't appeal to their interests.
What the subscribers received in their mailbox was a top-quality product that had been slaved over to ensure the sound quality was of the highest order possible, even when the original source material was marginal at best (the majority, however, are official band recordings and not bootleg audience recordings). The liner notes were extensive and included relevant photographs when possible. They are true collector's items, not just in their somewhat limited availability, but in their loving presentation.
After awhile, however, the subscription scheme was shelved in lieu of simply ordering the discs online, and continues in this fashion to this day, albeit at a slower pace due to DGM's latest project: DGMLive.com.
In an effort to slake the appetite of fans, the DGM team moved late in 2005 to a whole new model of offering the fans the live material, showing that they'd been listening all along. After all, what listeners really want is the music, right? DGM addressed this by making available, at a much faster pace than the Club would allow, exclusive live material via downloads of FLAC and mp3 files for fair prices, and included artwork in PDF form as well. What's even more interesting is that DGM has jumped on the Bit Torrent bandwagon, which can allow for some blazingly fast download speeds.