Every now and then, I try to convince you that I am not some sort of free music deus ex machina but merely an online simpleton who likes to recommend things that he likes. You, of course, refuse to acknowledge any flaw in my perfection and insist that I am the source of all that is good, free and funky. Not so, planet. There are those who deserve a place in the pantheon that is CTW's “General Netlabel Sites” category. The gilded olive wreath goes, rather appropriately, to Eldino, a native of the Calabria/Marche regions of Italy.
What has he done to deserve this Nobel-like honour? Well, he has taken it upon himself to curate netlabel music. All of it. The lot. Come with me into the heart of the matrix and grasp the scale of his madness.
For the last six years, Eldino has collected and catalogued everything he could lay his hands on. A "Netlabel Music Meter" on his website shows that he has collected...wait for it...316GB of Creative commons/netlabel music. To put that into perspective, the iPod Classic stores 120GB of music, which translates to 30,000 songs, albeit songs stored at a rather lo-fi 128kbps. Actually, Eldino's meter is eight months out of date: he currently has nearly 400GB of netaudio in his private collection. He must have over 100,000 tracks; all free, all legally downloaded. Not only that, he has tagged every track correctly, assigned the appropriate album cover, rated the music and even placed albums in a logical and easy to understand hierarchy of folders instead of emulating the mess of files that you'll find on
my most people's hard drives.
His chosen task is Sisyphean. No matter how close he gets to scooping up everything with a CC licence on it, there will always be an obscure Lithuanian label who decides that what the world needs now is 100 albums of tuba nu-jazz. And Eldino will cry a little, bend himself to the task and try to push the huge boulder up the hill once more.
Why is he doing this extraordinary thing? He is thinking of posterity. Netlabels and artists come and go. Without him, countless songs and albums would have been lost in the depths of the net. Anyone looking for anything online knows that the internet is a near-impenetrable jungle; we often discard our accidental discoveries, dismissing them as worthless, on our search for treasure. It is not for us to decide what is worth preserving; Eldino is giving the Future the chance to pick and choose.
Visit his site and you'll find various articles (mostly in Italian, some in English) on Creative Commons culture, occasional album reviews, tutorials on proprietary and open source software, and tips on how to fill your mp3 player without becoming a pirate. Anyone who is curious to find out just how deep the netaudio rabbit hole goes should join his five news feeds, where you will discover oodles and oodles of albums to wade through. You have my extra-special permission to ignore CTW and discover things for yourself. (My ambition is to make CTW redundant.) But I warn you, your cerebellum will explode. Only experienced Italians with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the internet and an obsessive compulsion to bring order to chaos will be able to stand the strain. I'll take a wild stab in the dark and suggest that Eldino is probably the world's leading expert on netlabels & CC music, although Mo Sauer of Phlow or Marvin of Free Albums Galore might give him a run for his money.
I'm sure you've read of philanthropists who have handed their collections over to museums. Eldino has compiled an archivist's dream of Creative Commons material, but it's still less than half of what is floating on the electronic high seas. Wouldn't it be lovely if someone far-sighted from the Italian government or, better still, the Creative Commons rewarded Eldino's
insanity industry and diligence by offering him some financial help or - and he might prefer this - seconding an attractive secretary to his side? For now, he ploughs a lone furrow. We salute him. Please visit his site and, should you feel like it, send him an email thanking him for his Herculean efforts.
I must also thank Eldino for helping me to convert CTW into a mobile phone format. (Wanting to go mobile was akin to a toddler deciding to upgrade the Hubble telescope.) He is an evangelist for the Creative Commons music scene and was happy to help.