Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Guitar tabs are back

The music ogres bit a chunk out my world last year when they threatened to start suing websites that collect guitar tabs. Already hobbled by minimal talent, the inability to properly read music, and a lack of guitar playing buddies, I was a regular on these sites, which allow players to post and share songs in tab -- a simple system of musical notation for guitar that even I could figure out. The quality of the tabs varied wildly, but they were free and I would be still be playing "Old MacDonald" over and over again without them. Of course, the music publishers decided this was stealing (even tho they hadn't bothered to publish lots of these songs in the first place and the tabs were personal interpretations of the songs) and the best tab sites closed down.

Happily, it looks like they may be coming back, according to an article in yesterday's NYT. The owners of one of the biggest tab sites, MxTabs.net, worked out an ad revenue sharing scheme with the Harry Fox Agency, which represents 31,000-odd music publishers. Now, if the publishers sign up, they get some revenue for the music on which the tabs are based and I get to learn a new song or two thanks to the thousands of generous players who share the songs that they figure out how to play. Good deal.

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