Thursday, October 24, 2013

The not-so-dead 60s, out with the old and in with the ‘new’

Sometimes you hear a buzz and you’d be better off putting your ear to a hive than following the crowd. At others you’ve got to join the throng, play along and see what comes of it.

I wasn’t overly impressed by The Strypes, I get it that they’re great looking and they’re young and they play like they should’ve been around in the late sixties but sometimes it feels too forced, almost like it was someone else’s idea.

Of course I’m cynical, I’ve seen it all before, the ‘kids’ don’t care so much. To some of them it probably even sounds new. In that instance it is new – to them. In the same sense the industry wants so badly to create that ‘new’ (usually from the ashes of something familiar) that they’ll often trip over themselves trying to get there. There’s a lineage in all music, occasionally the industry mines the right seam and a trend develops.

Monday, October 14, 2013

David's discourse

We’ll possibly get to a stage where the Spotify debate is over, but maybe not. David Byrne has chipped in with a long and lucid justification of his feelings.

He differs from Thom Yorke et al in one crucial aspect, he seems quite rational – there’s no doubt that this is what the debate needs.
One point he makes clearly is that if Spotify and other streaming services replace the traditional forms of how albums are consumed, ie we all stream thus we no longer buy, then the financial model will not fully support musicians. Of course it could be that we’re a long way from this point and by the time we reach it there will be different revenue structures in place – the way artists deal with labels is changing all the time for example.

It may also be that streaming services also start to generate content that they fund. This already happens with the likes of Netflix (House Of Cards, etc) so it’s possible that Spotify could eventually pay for artists. What they’ll be happy to pay for is another matter of course; I’d stake my life that it won’t be avant-garde Peruvian nasal-flute tunes.

Thom's lament

It’s the scab he can’t help scratching. Thom doesn’t love Spotify, he doesn’t want to play with them anymore – he wants them to go away.

We’ve all been here before but there are no new solutions. Even in this latest interview, he may speak about it in more depth but we hear nothing new. He suggests only that it needs to go away before something new can emerge. Is this true?
Streaming seems to be the future; Spotify has hit a five year anniversary  with 24 million active users. YouTube is older still and its own figures  claim 1 billion unique users every month. In other places you can find a stat that suggests they have 3 billion views per day. To use ancient, pre-digital terminology it would appear that any attempt to change these habits would be akin to closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. We stream, that’s what we do.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Two Tribes

The music industry loves a controversy. Why wouldn’t it? Conflict usually equals column inches, social and other media coverage. They positively (or negatively) encourage it.

There’s probably a simple equation to be struck. Artist + average song + over-sexualised-video = meh, whereas Artist + average/bad song + stupid, exploitative soft-porn video x outrage from other acts/celebs = gold. We’re all so wise to these games that it probably gets harder and harder to manufacture such outrage. Rihanna tries it so often that it’s become a bore and Miley Cyrus really had to work hard – over a prolonged period - to generate her coverage. The master-stroke of course was to drag Sinead O’Connor into it.

Sinead is a character more often known these days for her forthright opinions rather than her incredible vocal talent. It’s sad that the focus is usually on the reaction she provokes rather than the content of what she has to say because – as in this instance – she has an intelligent and informed viewpoint, clear, concise and brilliant – we should want for more like her instead of the seemingly vacuous tabloid eye-candy we’re force-fed.