Songs of Future Past

The future is Ginger?

Technology spawned the album. Production and distribution fuelled its rise, aided in no small way by artist experimentation. The advancement of technology has now killed the format but the artists remain devotees. They bemoan the deals and decry the new distribution but still they package their songs in small collections and irregularly release them unto a largely uninterested world.

So far there are no platinum album releases this year. It may be due to poor quality product, unbundling, streaming or any number of factors, including the domination of music genres where albums matter far less than hit singles, who knows? What we do know is that, regardless of this obvious decline, as is usual in the fourth quarter of any year we will be deluged with big album releases.
This has always been a huge bugbear of mine. I know already that there are far more albums being released in the next few months than I have the free time to listen to. I know also that I won’t be buying any of them until I’ve listened to them and waited a few months for the price to drop through the floor – as is now usually the case. Despite the advances in tech we are still shackled to the practices of the past – single, promo, album, tour, rest, record, repeat.

It’s a mystery (to me) why bands are still locked into the album vortex when the evidence seems clear that the consumer no longer cares. We are all more heavily involved in our favourite artist’s day-to-day habits, we consume their outpourings via social media and feel like we’re closer with them than before but we still don’t know why they wait a year (to five years) to burden us with 8-12 songs, it’s an overload – possibly a welcome one but definitely outdated.
Some artists are experimenting outside the mainstream. Long ago The Wedding Present went with the one track per month idea and others are adopting that mindset, slowly. Ginger Wildheart was always a likeable and industrious chap and his new subscriber package is a lot closer to what I expect of other so-called innovators. A £30 subscription gets you 36 brand new songs released at a rate of 3 per month plus demos and rarities from his archive. Obviously it requires an investment and few of us like many artists enough to engage with them in this way but it is undoubtedly a clever move.

Like many similar ideas it only really works if you already have a reputation, a following and some devoted fans who’ll readily buy into the concept. The road to reaching this point is inevitably a long one and seemingly getting longer still. All this said I think he’s nailed it. I will inevitably wait for the physical ‘greatest hits’ package but I doff my metaphorical cap to him. Soon it’ll be time for someone substantially better known to try the same. I look forward to that and hope it’s someone I care for enough about.