How many professional recording artists have you heard of who offer
to give their music away free? Or who encourage people to bootleg their
albums. Not many. Principles and patriotism are rarely given more weight
than profits in the entertainment industry. But then Steve Vaus is a
rare recording artist.
That has been apparent since he recorded his rousing anthem for
cultural renewal, "We Must Take America Back" for RCA, Nashville in
1992. That song caused him to be blackballed by virtually every major
record company. Since then Vaus has had offers from smaller companies to
release his work if he would "tone it down" in terms of the conservative
content. But Vaus steadfastly refuses, choosing instead to self-release
his albums, for sale at concerts, by telephone and on his
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And if you've ever heard Vaus on the radio or in concert you know
that he not only allows but encourages people to make copies of his
albums and freely distribute them. Now Steve Vaus is going one step
farther; he's giving away his music. That's right, "giving" -- as in
free, no cost, zero, zip, zilch.
"The message of my music is far more important to me than money,"
Vaus said. "I feel as though America is at a cultural, political and
spiritual cross roads. There may not be much time left for me or anyone.
I don't want to look back and see that I didn't do everything I could
have done to make a difference."
Effective immediately Vaus is offering many of his songs for free
download in the MP3 format at the MP3.com website.
The MP3 format has caused a firestorm of controversy in the
entertainment industry because it allows fast downloads and unlimited
replication of CD quality music files. (Record companies tried
unsuccessfully to block MP3.) MP3 "players" are widely available on the
web (also for free) allowing anyone to
download and play MP3 files. The files can also be used to create custom
CDs by anyone with a CD R or CD-RW drive.
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Vaus commented, "That's scares the big record companies to death.
Virtually anybody with a computer and a CD burner can start an overnight
bootleg operation. When you're in this business solely to make a profit,
unauthorized duplication is a nightmare. But if your priority is to save
America then MP3 is a Godsend. I don't want anything to stand in the way
of someone hearing my music. Now, thanks to the Internet I don't need
the big distribution companies anymore. I can upload a song onto the web
and have it available worldwide within just a few hours. Then John Q.
Public becomes my distributor. So what if there's no money in it? There
are more important things at stake."
Vaus is hopeful that demand for his songs will flood MP3.com web
He'll know if it does. The main site publishes
charts that reflect the popularity of all the songs in the different
genres they offer -- a Top 40 of sorts. Every time the MP3 file of a
given song is downloaded (RealAudio downloads don't count) that helps
move the song up the MP3 charts. A thousand downloads in a few days'
time would rocket Vaus' songs to the top of the MP3.com country charts.
Then things could get really interesting.
According to Vaus, "One element of this process is that the
entertainment industry is watching it all very closely. In the last few
months record companies have signed artists who have been at the top of
the MP3 charts. Radio stations have been forced to give airplay to
artists in this new venue as well. If I move up the MP3 charts record
companies and radio stations will really be in a pickle because it will
offer empirical evidence that my music is popular, conservative messages
Currently there are seven songs from Vaus' "I Still Believe" album
available for download. He will be adding more songs from his four other
albums in the next few days. All of his albums remain available for
purchase in traditional cassette and CD formats from his website.
Vaus' new album "American History" is in production.