I just spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out who is the number 1 streaming artist on Spotify. (FYI it’s Justin Bieber). Spotify doesn’t make it very easy to find this out – I ended up getting the figure from Wikipedia. This search led me to the below chart showing how the music industry is making money again through streaming. (link)
What these figures point to is a very complex formula for ever declaring an album as “Number 1”. Gone are the straightforward days of measuring LPs sold. It is a weighted calculation, subject to bias and change over time.
Spotify itself is not making much money. For now the Company is beholden to the record companies (link) for their back catalogues (and to a lesser extent, their A&R and recording infrastructure). But one day perhaps it will break free from this like Netflix has from Hollywood.
The garden waste piles up each week in the corner of the property. Each time the gardener cuts the grass, sweeps up the leaves, or cuts down a branch he puts the waste into bags, and these bags pile up until a truck is organized to cart it off for composting. As the owner of the property this system can stress me out. Watching the relentless growing piles of waste sometimes feels like one of those awkward “white lie” situations – you know the one – you’ve told a little lie or made a transgression which is never confessed. The lie gets bigger and bigger, worse and worse until there is inevitably a release. Either you and your lie are found out, or you tell the truth. The pickup truck taking the waste away feels like eventually telling the truth.
Great music is just like my home’s waste management system. When a song is well written, a tension builds for the listener. The verse builds up to the chorus. The verse places bags of musical notes and dead ends in the corner of the listener’s head. Repeated phrases and hooks. A story in need of some resolution. Eventually the tension is too great and a switch to the chorus is like a clearing out of all the accumulated rubbish. The verse is the lie and the chorus is the truth.
This is most obvious for me in blues music. Think of Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man”. The verse is simple and repetitive to the point of ridicule. The harmonica’s five notes over and over moaning and groaning that Something huge is coming. Trust me he’s coming. Gypsy woman told my momma. Muddy is coming. Just now……Wait for it. It’s almost unbearable until Muddy grants us sweet relief with “But you know I’m here!” The chorus plays and all the rubbish in our mind is cleared away. Then the cycle starts again with verse 2. What a song.
I set up my third (I know!) Amplifier today in the man cave. It is the only Grade A amp I own and it is now doing the LP player duties. This means my streaming amp has been relegated to an “Input AUX” on the class A amp. Audio talk, but it got me thinking about priorities.
If you have many responsibilities in your life, and you are struggling to handle all the input signals and get all the outputs you want – then maybe you need to focus on the quality / important inputs and relegate the other stuff. Sort out the important things first and only then look to do anything else.
At the moment, my life is a list of important things and little time for recreation. Being conscientious and organised about priorities is perhaps one of the hardest things for me, but when I do it, it reaps instant rewards.
In the audio analogy, I sorted out the wheat from the chaff, the high res from the low bitrate, the analogue from the digital, the good from the crap – and this means I am now experiencing the best audio source (LP’s) through the best amplifier, and the others are taking a back seat for another day.
It’s not much of an analogy, but the bigger point is that life is about options and sacrifice. You have to choose your sacrifice. Choose it wisely and complete the plan. Then reassess.
The pixies as a band passed me by. I was a little too young and a little too stuck in east Africa for their first few albums to make any impact on my life. However, the beauty of music streaming services now is that I can dig into all the rich history.
I sometimes wonder why as a society we make all this new music when there is so much to discover in the back catalogues. Maybe they should put a moratorium on new releases until everyone has caught up with listening to everything ever released to date?
If you listen to music, you have chosen not to do something else. Sacrifice.
In western culture today the idea of sacrifice is often over dramatized. The words conjure up images of lambs slaughtered, pain, blood, sweat, tears. What is not often explained or acknowledged is how sacrifice happens every second of every day. It is fundamental to achieving anything. It is something we should get our heads around and I think it is something many of us deny exists.
With music and Hifi this means we must choose what to sacrifice in the quest for audio quality and listening. Perhaps we need to eat beans and water for a few weeks to afford those new speakers. Perhaps we choose to listen to an album rather than play sport or talk to our kids. You can have your listening room in the house, but you’ll need to give up on the big social lounge.
Everything is a sacrifice of some sort. And that is the dance we are all doing! 🐵🎧
If you are stuck browsing the internet through the bubbled lens of Twitter or Facebook. It all seems like evidence of people living the way you would like them to live, but it all seems so far away.
If this is you, it might be interesting to search for a someone near to you who is in sync with your point of view and then go and interact with that person face to face.
In terms of audiophiles, it is easy to surround yourself with the videos and images of instagram showing hugely expensive systems, all set up perfectly. However real life is a lot more messy. There are normal everyday people behind that industry, trying to make their music sound the best they can. Find a hifi store, a vinyl market, a local audio visual consultant and interact with them.
They might even need something you have to give, and away you go. You’re part of the community now, and away from the bubbles.