The Overdub Tampering Committee

By RYAN WALSH  |  February 15, 2012



I wanted to test this hypothesis by combining it with the overdub project. I told my small group of musician consultants that the experiment was back on, with one major change: we weren't going to actually do any of the planned overdubbing and re-leaking, but we were going to tell everyone that we had.

My level of adeptness with computers was moderate, but I knew that if I didn't want to get immediately exposed as the one posting online manifestos that I would need to somehow disguise my IP address. I paid for some software that promised to use a proxy IP address anytime I ran the program, making it appear as if these posts and e-mails were coming from various locations across the globe. I didn't understand how exactly this worked, and the idea that Internet anonymity could be purchased for a small fee struck me as faulty and ridiculous. It seemed like a symbolic effort for anonymity more than anything else. Nevertheless, I checked it off my hoax-preparation list.

I made some ground rules for myself:

1_ I would only post things and send e-mails from my home computer while running the IP-disguising program.
2_ I would answer all questions as honestly as possible.
3_ I would never yield to demands for examples of our work, always insisting the examples could be found as a part of the music.

I wrote our manifesto in an afternoon, and decided on our organization's name. We would call ourselves the Overdub Tampering Committee.

I posted the manifesto on a blogger account we had started for the experiment. We had collected about a thousand music-press e-mail addresses by combining all of our contact lists (some of the group were music writers themselves) and we sent this manifesto to all of them one morning in early January.

It began:

We are a group of musicians who have downloaded newly leaked albums by popular artists, quickly recorded many subtle overdubs over the work, and then re-leaked it to the Internet. We have done this for about three years now. We used a varied amount of re-leaking methods including but not limited to Soulseek, OiNK, the Pirate Bay, Limewire, and zipped files hosted on sites like YouSendIt or Mediafire, with links spread out on hundreds of message boards. Our turnaround time was usually very short so often our version of the artist's album was online for download within hours of its original leak. If you illegally download music on the Internet the chances that our work is in your collection is very, very likely! In fact, you might have a whole lot of us!

Attempting to police and punish "illegal downloaders" with lawsuits and fines is misguided and, in our opinion, a waste of time. This model treats the music fans as criminals. That's an insane business model. But we expect nothing less than insanity from large, crumbling corporations. We do not know how the music industry will change in the next few years and we don't know how a method will arise to ensure that musicians are properly paid for their recorded work. We have no solutions. All we set out to do here is jump-start a conversation. It would delight us if our relentless efforts over the last few years might force you to doubt what you consider to be a pristine source of untampered music. We're here to tell you it's far from pristine.

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