Cheeseburger Gothic

Streaming music and rebirth of the album

Posted December 23 into Music by John Birmingham

From the New York Times...

John Seabrook’s book “The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory” delved into the 21st-century pop that resulted from concentrating on single tracks: We got songs that were fabricated as masterpieces of instant gratification, full of technological sizzle and concocted by a surprisingly small clique of professionals for a highly competitive A-list of pop stars, who added some small personal garnish to the committee efforts. The same people write for (and with) Taylor Swift, the Weeknd and Adele; they knew the secrets of radio play, which is still seen as the best guarantee of mass success despite the occasional online breakout.

Streaming, instead, encourages curiosity. With streaming rather than downloads, access replaces ownership and the commitment is of time, not money. That’s still significant, but it doesn’t feel so irrevocable. Where downloads and playlists favored the lone song, streaming gives the artist and the album a fighting chance again. Anyone interested in a particular artist, from die-hard fans to novelty seekers, can listen to a whole album repeatedly — not just song samples, not just YouTube choices — and let subtler material sink in. Musicians don’t need to think so exclusively about what sounds, beats and structures the radio gatekeepers will allow; they can get poetic, political, sonically weird or all of the above. While big and glossy still works, it’s just possible that odd and heartfelt will, too.

Couldn't agree more with the argument that 'streaming encourages curiosity.' After years, probably decades of stagnating taste, I've got dozens of new artists and groups in my playlists now. And sure, they tend to be alternative rock acts, or hip hop, which I've always listened to. But I would never have found them in the download era. Because after a while you just stop trying. But with streaming you don't have to try. The platform serves it all up for you, no matter which service you use.

One interesting factoid from the article. It takes 1500 plays of an album to match the income from one paid download. That looks bad, but then I was never going to download any of the albums I've been listening to since getting Apple Music, and Rdio before that. And with some albums I would come close to 1500 plays after a couple of years.

3 Responses to ‘Streaming music and rebirth of the album’

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted December 23
I suppose I'm just getting into it, but streaming has gotten me back into a few old favorites, for exactly those reasons. Very happy to be rediscovering faith no more...

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mick g has opinions thus...

Posted December 23
Exactly. I'm listening to music on Spotify that I'd never buy, but if I and a few million others are doing the same worldwide then surely that benefits artists who would never be making money from my buying their music in traditional formats.
Im hoping it also leads to the downfall of miserable human beings like Chris Brown (the r&b douchebag,not the tv vet). Fingers crossed.

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Helical swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 24
I don't like streaming for multiple reasons.
I spend a large portion of my time away from mobile reception (plus I have limited data) so I don't want to be tethered to a data connection. My music lives on my mp3 player's 120GB hard drive.
Streaming does not help newer bands or niche bands as they need such huge numbers to make any money. A local and successful progressive metal band, that tours internationally, showed their income off Spotify last year, a handful of change, enough to buy a cheeseburger.
Finally, I want to still be able to listen to my music when the zombie apocalypse comes. So while you lot are searching for an internet connection in between getting your brains eaten, I'll be out bush headbanging away.

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