Posted by: Joe | January 18, 2008

Open Letter to Paper Bag Records

A lot for people ask me where I find new bands. I’ve got a lot of sources, primarily indie music blogs and various podcasts, but one other method I use is to browse the catalogs of labels that have other artists I know I like.

For example, a couple years ago Dan introduced me to The Constantines. Another Arts&Crafts band, Apostle of Hustle got some buzz at last year’s SxSW, and of course A&C also represents Canadian indie darlings Broken Social Scene and Feist. At this point I know that pretty much anything A&C puts out is worth a listen, so I check their site periodically to see what new artists they may have signed or what new releases may be upcoming. That’s how I found Young Galaxy.

So this morning I was browsing the artist catalog for Paper Bag Records, another small Canadian label. I ran across The Acorn, a band I’ve heard a couple songs from that I liked, but hadn’t bubbled to the top of my music list. I decided to grab their new LP. I look around and it’s available for digital download. Awesome! Clickity-click, enter credit card info, click “checkout” et voilà:

Entire Order Restricted

All of the products you had selected in your order are unavailable for sale in your country (Canada) and as a result your order cannot be processed.

Please feel free to continue shopping and select other products from our catalog. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Um, what? Let me get this straight: Because I live in Canada, Paperbag Records, a Canadian label, won’t let me order a digital download of an album by a Canadian band that they represent. What kind of retarded business is this?

A message for Paper Bag Records:


I’d really like to give you and The Acorn, a band you represent, some money. But it seems that because I live in the same country where you do business, you won’t let me. I guess that’s your prerogative, but I’ll just download the album somewhere else, because the Canadian courts have decided that downloading copyrighted works is not illegal.

I want to give you some money. I would really like to support your artist. Please let me give you some money.



As a society, we’ve done some pretty damned incredible things. I’m holding in my hand right now AN APPLE THAT TASTES AND SMELLS LIKE A GRAPE. Surely this whole ‘making sure artists get paid for their art’-thing isn’t that complicated.



  1. Dude, international intellectual property law hasn’t even progressed to the point where dying Africans can afford to pay for medicine. What’re the odds that somebody’ll dash off a fix for music downloads?

    Labyrinthine is the only word for it. Except for maybe “smacktarded”.

  2. […] day after my rant to Paper Bag Records, I noticed a URL from in my referrer logs. My guess is that either a member of the […]

  3. […] Sayers and Jean-Michel Pigeon. They released their debut album on September 9, 2008 on Paper Bag Records. How I first noticed this band was on April 1 in Ottawa where they opened up for Forest City […]

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