Confession: I’m a blues fan.

I like nearly all permutations of blues. In my office, when I need to decompress I’m fond of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and T Bone Walker. When I’m alone in the truck, it always cruises better to the heavily blues-influenced rock of Gary Moore, or Delbert McClinton’s steeped in blues honky tonk.

Now, I’m well aware that blues is marked by the use of the lowered third and dominant seventh (so-called blue notes) of the associated major scale, but that’s an intellectual observation. That awareness isn’t part of the enjoyment. The enjoyment comes from feeling the music (right brain), rather than analyzing it (left brain).

So, here I am, Monday evening, listening to Gov’t Mule’s live recording of Jesus Just Left Chicago, when I get the urge to see what Gov’t Mule has issued that isn’t already in my collection. (I’ve switched to present tense for the telling of this tale. Feel like you’re there, don’t’cha?)

Google Gov’t Mule. Click on the link to the official site. Browse. Read some of the bio material. I’m emoting. I’m ready. I’m feeling a need for new songs.

Click on “Mule Tracks.” Humm. Clever name.

Welcome To Mule Tracks.
If you haven’t downloaded shows before please check out the FAQ for info on the process. Or even if you have downloaded shows, there’s good info to be found in the FAQ

You’re messing with my emotional willingness to purchase. You’re making me shift into intellectual mode. I don’t want to be in intellectual mode. I want the songs.

I scan down the left side of the page, and I see dates of specific shows. Humm. These appear to be live recordings. And it seems that they’re available for download. Cool. Is there a charge? Click on “What Do I Get” from the FAQ and read:

What do I get?
After completing the purchase process you may download the entire product in the format you’ve chosen. Individual files are not available as separate purchases – you may only purchase products in their entirety. Certain products also have printable PDF files for CD labels, booklets and tray inlays. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or later to access the files.”

What the…? Product? I want songs. I don’t want “product.” Reading on, I come across:

Using the appropriate software for your operating system, uncompress each of the FLAC files into WAV files. The WAV files are what you will need to burn an audio CD that can be played on most CD players. Keep in mind that not all CD burning software can burn WAV files. Be sure to check compatibility with your software. After the WAV files are extracted, burn them in your favorite CD burning application. For live performance products use the Disc-At-Once (DAO) option to avoid any two-second gaps between tracks on your CDs.”

What’s an FLAC file? Does it have something to do with that duck? And now you expect me to check compatibility with my software? Where do I find that?

I’m no longer jones’n for new Gov’t Mule songs. I’m frustrated and somewhat angry. Are you trying to keep the music from me? That’s how it feels. And just like I know about lowered thirds and dominant sevenths but don’t let it get in the way of the emotional enjoyment of the performance, I also know about file compatibility and digital rights management… but it’s getting in the way of my enjoyment of the performance.

Didn’t the Grateful Dead encourage live recording of their shows, and even rope off a special taping section just for that purpose? If they could make it that easy, why are you guys making it so difficult?

Screw it.

Warren, Matt, Danny, Andy… your music’s great. Your web site is not.

I’ve decided that I’ll wait to find the new album at Borders or Best Buy. I haven’t set foot in either place in months… but the next time I think of it, I may swing in. However, I’m sure as hell not blowing any more of my Monday evening by attempting to find out if my burner’s compatible with FLAC files.

Oh, and I’m going to send you a copy of the Eisenboys Call To Action so you can see where you lost me… I can’t be the only one. Check the web metrics and consider your conversion rate. I’ll bet it’s low. And that’s a shame.

How much money are you losing as people who are enthusiastic about your music get unenthused about the prospect of buying it?

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