Streaming or not
With all the furor over Taylor Swift pulling albums from Spotify, my music blogging friends are writing posts partially propelled by that news item:
- Steve Lawson on why the major labels love Spotify,
- Christine Infanger on how artists are fighting the wrong battle, and
- Solveig Whittle on having dialogue on this whole mess.
Meanwhile, on Twitter and other places on the web, there have been dozens of people saying how vinyl or streaming or something else will save music or save the music industry.
I like vinyl. I don’t think it will save music. Apparently, that’s a common assumption. pic.twitter.com/J1pc88xucs
— stan stewart (@muz4now) November 18, 2014
Let me be clear about one thing: I don’t care if the music industry is saved. I love music. I want to play music. I want to hear (well-performed) music. My favorite music is not always what’s turned out by the industry. I prefer what’s created from the heart. One of the best ways to do that is to play live. I’m happy that I’m in an area where I can hear music performed every day of the week. (You probably live in an area like that, too. Check out Songkick and Bandsintown to see.)
Recordings can be a wonderful thing, too. Over the years I’ve gained more from listening to recordings of other musicians than from learning music from scores. Plus, listening to recorded music is part of our culture both individually (look at all the people walking or sitting around with players plugged into their ears) and socially. (Imagine what most parties would have been like without music.)
So, I don’t really think music needs to be saved. We just need to go back to having discerning ears. Solveig talks about the democratization of music production and how it has watered down what we listen to. (Of course, the quality of MP3’s, etc. have also messed with our ears, but that’s for another time.) When so many people around the globe are recording songs and videos, it’s hard to sort through to the gems. On social media, I get dozens of requests each week to review or plug someone’s song. Some are automated and others seek me out. There are so many of them that I cannot respond to each one.
That’s why we talk about “discovery“. How can fans discover music in a world filled with so much of it? I’m still open to finding new ways. Christine says she’s found and supported quite a few indie musicians through Spotify. I know from experience where Steve finds some of the music he listens to.
And that brings me back to BandCamp. I continue to appreciate the directions this site is taking. In addition to a slick way for DIY (or label) musicians to share and sell digital downloads and merchandise, this platform offers subscriptions, streaming, variable pricing (including free when you join the artist’s email list), coupon codes, and fan connections. What I mean by “fan connections” is not just that fans can connect with the artist, but that
- they can provide mini-reviews of songs and albums
- listings of who each fan follows and buys
- and discovery based on genre, format, albums bought by other fans you follow, recommendations by artists and staff, and various combinations of all of these.
I think you’ll get the idea that I really appreciate BandCamp, especially for indie musicians. I hope you’ll check it out. And then, go listen to some live music.