7/10 ain’t bad

Well, that didn’t take long, did it? After only six blogs writer’s block kicks in. Actually, that wasn’t quite the problem, it seemed there were too many fragments of ideas about what to write and then being completely unable to stick to one to a conclusion.

After I’d read an article about the derisory income earned from streaming services, I started writing a follow-up to Remix! in my series about music formats. The article had a calculator to show how much each streaming service pays, highlighting that it requires many hundreds of streams to earn a miserly British pound coin.

Director of Music, Spotify

So I’d started to devise a mathematical equation to determine the “worth” of music. Yes Bletchley, eat your heart out! I could quantify, by music channel, the inequality between what someone will pay for music and what an artist earns.

But the ink flowed like treacle when I tried to put it into words. It might resurface in a future blog though, it seemed like an interesting idea. So, instead, this blog is a bit of a hybrid. I’ll touch on what streaming means to me and give an example of how it can be a good thing for both listener and artist. With an album mini-review thrown in for good measure.

You get value for money at Dead Doll! And a rambling start.

Stuart Henry

I’m pretty new to streaming. Like many fans my age my thirst for new music hasn’t abated over the years – I’m convinced new music keeps you young (at least thinking younger) – but our methods of research have changed. It used to be radio and listening to DJs that played the kind of stuff you liked. For punk it was Peel, Radio Luxembourg’s Stuart Henry, a bit of ‘Kid’ Jensen, and more locally Brian Ford, host of Radio Clyde’s Streetsounds.

Then there were your school mates. Or rather, ones that weren’t really mates but were interesting in a weird kinda way and liked stuff that wasn’t what everyone said they liked. We swapped tapes. I enjoyed a variety of new-found music from Kraftwerk to ZZ Top (pre-Legs etc.) that way. In passing, does anyone remember the protocol for swapping tapes? They had to be TDK C60s or C90s: no Boots “counterfeit” shite, or even semi-decent ones like Memorex. And don’t scrimp on a C46. And the tape in C120s was too “thin” which meant the sound quality wasn’t the same. I have no evidence for this other than school hearsay. It’s not that we were listening to it on state-of-the art hifi equipment, but we liked to think we were sophisticated enough for it to make a difference.

As time moved on my method for finding new music became compilation albums and CDs primarily .. oh, the joy that was to be found in finding new labels! You mine them for all they’re worth. You find new artists, then delve into the individual band members’ previous histories, and their collaborations. A few month’s worth of research fun could be had from one decent compilation. You got to know the reliable labels.

When NME was essential

Then there’s always been reviews: newspapers; music press (N.M.E. R.I.P.).

But as I say I’m new to streaming, having succumbed when my iPod ran out of space. And, for the right reasons, it’s really good. You’re a bit at the mercy of what the providers actually provide but most new stuff is on all of them. However I really don’t like playlists being suggested for me. Call me cynical, but most of them are there because someone paid the most.

So I’ll listen to lots of new music on the bus to and from work, and if I really like it I’ll probably buy the record or, less often now, the CD. Ideally directly from the artist. That way the musicians get a much more realistic payment for their art than the streaming companies provide.

This week I bought Fontaines DC’s Dogrel. Rough Trade’s Record of the Week and all over social media including micro-clips from their recent set at 6 Music Festival in Liverpool. Everyone saying they sound like everyone from Radiators From Space (did that reviewer read my earlier Gloria’s Records blog – it just seems too coincidental!), to Fugazi, to generic “punk”. Don’t bands sound just like themselves anymore? Why does everything have to sound like someone or something else?

Anyway I listened to in on Tidal and bought it. It’s decent. There are probably four or five really good songs, but I don’t find it consistently brilliant like the hype would lead us to believe.

Not a true likeness of your author

7/10.

(I don’t think I’d get a job as a reviewer)

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