Monday, 24 September 2012

Am I destroying the music industry?

within a matter of hours I have sourced around two and a half hours worth of music from blogs and then set about creating a cohesive playlist for burning onto CD (if only my girlfriend's car still had a CD player instead of the current tape deck and slim choice of Phil Collins, Chris De Burgh and Disney cassettes).

It is an 80 minute masterpiece that runs the gauntlet of folktronica, unexpected cover versions, codeine hip-hop, bootlegs and a smattering of other down-tempo hybrid genres.

and I did not pay a penny for any of it.

this is the strength of the music blog, with it's ability to expose multitudes of people to brand new talent through tidbits and tasters offered up free of charge.

and in this strange no-mans-land that the music industry has found itself in, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell if this is the right thing to do or not

for all of the success of iTunes, it seems to me that we are still living in the shadow of napster, and the uncertain value of music to many people

ham-fistedly stealing whole albums and back catalogues via torrents still seems wrong to me, and in my old fashioned way, I would much rather pay for a physical product if I feel the music is worth it, yet releases and remixes by smaller artists seem to be worthless

there seems to be a number of reasons for this, firstly may be my placing in the music business as an occasional critic and journalist, unwilling to offer up my opinion on music unless it has been provided to me gratis, and as an unpaid journalist, so should it be... if they want the exposure provided by me, then the music should be my pay-off and my reward.

secondly is the uncertainty of the musical landscape, where some artists and labels have seen the changing tides and decided to swim with the current, providing music for free if it means that artists and songs reach the right blogs and the right people, before crossing over into the paying mainstream, yet how can we be certain which free mp3s have been co-erced and given the blessing by the sanctioned provider, and how many blogs are just towing the line that music is free and effectively stealing from the creator.

and so it is that I seem willing to exchange currency for the upcoming Muse album, a major label release from an already established band, and yet paying for the wares of far smaller artists seems to be somewhat unjustified, as if their art is worth less.

the music business is still clearly in a state of flux, as almighty majors now suffer and new ways and mean of reaching an audience and turning a profit are still being tried and tested in the wake of file-sharing.

so am I getting my own personal views on paying for music the wrong way round?

am I destroying the music industry?

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Noel Gallagher, and the decline of the b-side

for the first time in a very very long time, I bought a CD single.

in fact I bought five of them.

all housed within a rather splendid little case, as part of the Noel Gallagher and his Flying Birds boxset.

Having laid my hands on practically everything Oasis have graced the world with since those glorious brit-pop years, I am keen to hear the b-sides that Gallagher senior has delivered with each of his releases to date.

I listen to The Death of You and Me and The Good Rebel, and then take the CD out, and then listen to AKA What a Life and Let The Lord Shine a Light on Me, and then take the CD out... and the process is repeated again and again.

With just the a-side and one sole b-side to each CD single, it is a far cry from the glory days when Oasis singles carried 3 additional tracks, usually of startlingly good quality, making every release an event in itself when such bounteous goods were handed down to us mere fans that were eagerly awaiting a new fix.

even when the media hyperbole died down after the critically derided Be Here Now, Oasis were still churning out tracks on the flipside that would give most band's singles a run for their money.

but as time marched ever forward, this tradition slowly sank into decline, as singles from 2000's Standing on the Shoulder of Giants had its accompanying tracks whittled down to 2 per single, and the unthinkable happened when tracks released from 2008's Dig Out Your Soul were packaged with remixes, an act that was unheard of in the band's long and rich history, save for a small number of hard to find rarities.

and there it is, the sad truth that as the digital age has fully flourished, less value is being placed on the now disposable pop single, and crafting extra material for releases or culling the best of the left-over album sessions is being left far behind us, consigned to the past along with the memory of physical singles stocked in actual record shops and being sought after by collectors and completists.

Even Noel doesn't escape unscathed from the remix syndrome, with two of the five b-sides in fact taking the form of psychedelic reinterpretations by the Gallagher approved Amorphous Androgynous.

Those that have followed Noel's post Oasis career will remember talk of an album made in collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous, an album that now seems destined for the scrap heap after Noel admitted that his touring schedule had kept him too busy to complete the reportedly 'far out' long player that was originally announced in July 2011 and was due to follow his own solo release.

and a pity it is too, since the reworkings of If I Had A Gun and AKA What a Life, following on from the 22 minute remix of Oasis's Falling Down, show a side of The Chief that is far removed from the usual Dad-rock misgivings that he has earned over the past decade and a half.

Yet, despite the pitfalls of these modern times derided earlier, the presence of iTunes playlists in most of our lives means we can neatly collate the three Amorphous Androgynous reproductions into 46 minutes worth of aural bliss that can be played without keep changing CDs, as we wonder just what might have been.