I hate Sublime because they represent every asshole I knew in high school in Hawaii. Nothing better than Sublime could have come out for these white dudes who loved reggae that I went to school with. Every white, blond-haired, piece of shit surfer jock guy, when this came out, they were like, “Oh! Now we have a Nirvana.” And they just ate it up. Everywhere you went, there was a white guy with an acoustic guitar singing Sublime songs; I’m sure one of them was Jack Johnson. And you had to deal with these guys who thought that this band was the band. And I’m not going to judge the way people dress or look, but Sublime looks like the Guy Fieri trio. People who like Sublime are probably people who think that Guy Fieri is badass.
I don’t know – I’m beginning to think that a lot of our attraction to media is because for years we got to have a THING that represented it, namely plastic discs and dead trees. Now that those are all going away it’s much easier to lose the attachment to those works – because then it’s just some kind of art form separated from a thing that held it.
When one does things like alphabetize a record collection, like I did for years, are we really celebrating an art form or are we just obsessive about our possessions?
For years I had told myself that I liked having a physical format for music, movies, and books. But today I look around at all this stuff and think of how much space they take up and how it will be a pain to move them if/when I move. “Music is timeless,” I told myself. “Art is timeless.” If so, then how come I rarely go back to most of them? If so, then how come there are such things as albums that work better on a CD or on Vinyl?
As I get older I see that these things from my youth that I told myself were very important, that spoke to me, were merely just what was available at the time I was growing up. Musicians like to talk about how music can speak to you, about how a song can hit at a time in your life when you need it. Weezer’s Blue Album is important to me because it came out when I was in junior high and I listened to it a lot. But if I came up during a different time wouldn’t it just have been some other album? Would the Beatles have gotten as big as they did if they weren’t marketed heavily to tons of up-and-coming baby boomers?
At its best, all this media can be something that speaks to you, but it can also be a reminder of who you once were or believed you could be. At its worse, they’re just things in a box taking up space in your new life.
After the big money came in everybody had to start being professional.
Roadie annals are full of such stories, many of them involving unpleasant treatment of female fans. But that era has long passed, and with it the idea of roadies as folk legends. They have since osmosed into “techs” – low-key professionals who often have degrees and treat the job as a job. “Bad behaviour isn’t acceptable any more, to be drunk and carrying on,” says Chris McDonnell, the Charlatans’ sound engineer. “A lot more is expected of you. People think it’s crazy backstage, and it’s girls and drugs, but it’s not. It’s people working and having a cup of tea.”
Edit: The other thought that occurs to me is that you need to be a NERD to be on productions today. Think of the technology involved in concerts. Media servers that require knowledge of video technology, projection technology, and content creation. Overhead trussing that requires a lot of math to make sure that they’re properly holding all the equipment hanging from it so that people underneath it are safe. Sound engineers that need to mix monitors and mix for a different venue night after night. These are things you need to be obsessive about, thus – nerds on the road.
“Well, there’s a lot of misconceptions and rumours about Spotify,” I started. “And most folk like us, who grew up with vinyl, don’t seem to ‘get’ it. It’s a harder sell if you’re used to owning music instead of renting it.”
Rusty looked at me quizzically.
“But what do you write about?” he asked. “Why do you think Spotify is so great?”
So this is what I told him:
The writing for the music download market is on the wall. Articles like this by Jer White make me think of jumping in head first to Spotify and getting started now.
In the past few months Spotify added the collection model, which helps if you’re like me and are against the idea of having a playlist for everything. Where Spotify falls short for me is in the organization of a collection. I like having smart playlists and viewing things by genre. Spotify would rather you give that all up and just let them take care of it through their radio and playlist/mixtape curation.
Sometimes I wonder maybe that is a better model so I can stop maintaining tags and playlists and start listening to music.
The other rub is that if you have music from independent services, like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, how does that fit into the streaming model? It can’t, not unless you’re allowed to add it to your own collection and treat it as if it’s part of the music service. The closest anybody has gotten to that is iTunes Match and Google Music (but, imo, if your desktop app is a web app, you blew it).
Until that’s resolved my use of Spotify will be a free account I use for first listens.
It’s not lost on me that a lot of what keeps me using iTunes is that I have a lot of care and energy into my current library. However, if I were 11 years old and didn’t have the baggage of a collection I’ve built for over 20 years, I’d probably be ok with streaming music.
I asked my male students what the heck is going on. “I don’t know, the new stuff just isn’t good. The old stuff is better, the production is better. It’s just better.”
I asked one of my female students the same question, why only the girls are bringing new bands. “It’s because the new bands are better looking.”
David Masciotra profiles Live From Daryl’s House, Daryl Hall’s internet music show.
“I got a very cold reception from all the networks I pitched,” Hall said. “One told me the show was too smart for TV, and another wanted to turn it into a contest like American Idol. They said, ‘the show has to have an ending.’ It’s moron thinking. So, the show could have only started on the Internet, in its truth-telling, honest way, and Palladia was the first to say, ‘We like the show just how it is. Don’t change a thing. It’s been very successful for them and me.”
I bet that won’t work in 30 years. Hall & Oates was all over the radio back in the ’80s. Whether you hate or love them, you know their songs. Today’s listenership is highly segmented. We don’t have a Hall & Oates anymore.
The only people I’ve heard say that they hate Lana Del Rey are also teenage girls.
Creating a stage persona is one of the oldest tricks in Hollywood, and it’s been done by some of the biggest pop stars. The name change in itself is also not uncommon. Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino; Kid Cudi changed his name from Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi. Hell, one of the most iconically “authentic” artists, Bob Dylan, was born Robert Zimmerman. Authenticity itself is a construct of the music industry.
Remember when Rivers Cuomo was in that metal band?
Also when Trent Reznor was in that new wave group.
You just try a bunch of things and find what works.
Dead Souls is pretty…slow and low after hearing it in a different key for a long time.
Kirk McElhrean’s “Some Thoughts on Streaming Music“:
Streaming music encourages detachment from the music; ownership encourages investment. When you flit around from one album, one song to another, you experience the music as mere entertainment. But when you own music, you’ve invested money in your purchase, which causes you to invest time in it as well. Instead of seeing the music is ephemeral, it enters your life, and you listen to it to see how it can change your life.
I agree with a lot of what Kirk says – there are some albums that are important in my life. In cases like that, music is timeless.
On the other hand, I have albums in my collection I regret buying because I bought them on a whim. It was part of the current pop culture trend. Music is not timeless for these.
I still think it’s fair to listen to an album once on Spotify – then if it’s something I want to add to my collection, to my life, buy it. But that could all change if some music streaming company finally gets it right. I think I’d like streaming to feel like ownership. I don’t want my music choices limited by who has set up distribution for Spotify and others.
Karltorp has found that music from games he used to play as a kid, such as StarCraft, Street Fighter, and Final Fantasy, work best. Because the music is designed to foster achievement and help players get to the next level, it activates a similar “in it to win it” mentality while working, argues Karltorp. At the same time, it’s not too disruptive to your concentration. “It’s there in the background,” said Karltorp. “It doesn’t get too intrusive, it keeps you going, and usually stays on a positive tone, too, which I found is important.”
I do the same thing at work – but to say that video game music is designed to help you get to the next level simplifies what’s really going on. In many instances, I think the music was there to stop you from giving up. Consider EVERY Mega Man game.
I haven’t found a good way to articulate what I think most people mean when they say “video game music.” I think they’re talking about music from the ’80s and ’90s (and the indie games of today) when games had catchy, upbeat, driving melodies instead of the orchestral music of a Halo game.
In a Halo game, the music often served the game by withdrawing its presence from the moment, only playing to further plot points. But in a Mega Man game, and in many games on the NES back in the ’80s and ’90s, there wasn’t that same care – the music was IN YOUR FACE all the time. But those games were better for it.
Although both are technically “video game” music – one feels more like video game music and another feels more like a movie soundtrack for a video game.
Sasha Frere-Jones interviews chart analyst Chris Molanphy:
SFJ: …Why do you think it’s so hard for the pop and R. & B. categories to fall back into some sort of accurate shape?
CM: I wrote a piece for Slate back in December that seems relevant here. A couple of weeks before the end of the year, I noticed there had not been a single No. 1 record on the Hot 100 by a black person; 2013 was the first time that had happened. In the article, I alluded to the idea that we’re in a so-called “post-racial,” Obama-era America. There’s this sense that we, as Americans and as music fans, want to move beyond this and pretend that these genres don’t exist and good music is good music.
That’s bullshit. Even if the definitions of these genres are harder to define than they were fifteen or twenty years ago, they’re still subcultures from which interesting music emerges and bubbles up, and also still subcultures where stuff from the top pushes down.
David Byrne’s How Will the Wolf Survive: Can Musicians Make a Living in the Streaming Era presents all the arguments against streaming music services as they exist today. Great read if you want to understand why this is so divisive on the artist side.
The music business is a tangled web of legacy laws, licensing requirements, and backroom negotiations.
The classical music world blames everybody else because Josh Bell wasn’t recognized in the subway. If they wanted him to be recognized, they should have made him a rock star, not put him in a darkened theater and then told the audience to “shhhhh” while he played 64ths like he was on rails. The audience shouldn’t have to know what a 64th is in order to enjoy it. We can do better.
I hated when that video came out. They posted this performance online and then felt superior when nobody recognized him.
I’ve struggled to articulate what I think is wrong with classical music today – this goes farther than I think I ever could.
Apple is finding that its influence over labels is slipping as YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and other streaming services gather momentum. One independent label said that iTunes’s share of the label’s revenue has eroded from more than 70% in 2012 to about 50% today.
I think the main reason I stick with iTunes is because I can listen to whatever I want, not just whatever jumped through all the hoops to get on Spotify.
Even with Spotify’s addition of Collections (which hasn’t rolled out to me yet) I still use iTunes/iTunes Match. Maybe that will change.