Recently, my friend Ben sent me an article by Stefan Schumacher (centered around Radiohead) about the state of digital music and it’s greater implications about music in general. The article touches on a number of great opinions about the way music is being released while addressing how much of a task getting lesser known music heard can be for musicians.
As balanced as it was, the article didn’t touch on two points I want to discuss. The first is streaming services. When praising the ease and low risk of listening to new music via spotify, it is easy to overlook attention span. The internet is a hot bed for distraction so when the option is presented to listen to anything in the entire world, I’m more likely to fall back on my old favorites. It’s a natural progression, particularly when the new music doesn't immediately catch you. This leads me to my next point.
While being compensated (or at least reimbursed) for creating music is important, as a musician the main objective is that people spend TIME with my music. When I really want to give music a fair shake, I put it in my car or phone so it's one of very few option. If I stream a record and get bored then it's on to the next. So the when listening to a record in its entirety is the only option, much like a live show, it opens up the possibility of connection.
At the end of the day, the way that music works is through connection and association. If it hits you at the right time and in the right way, it sticks with you forever. It could be your lovers favorite record and remind you of them. It could be your summer record with your friends. It’s just highly associative and brings you back to a moment, good or bad. It connects to a feeling and sometimes the artist represents that feeling for you. People will pay for that feeling, whether it’s a ticket, an album, a shirt whatever; if an artist makes their mark people will pay for that. And the artists will be compensated in one way or another, if not directly. I remember hearing someone say “I listen to rap because it makes me feel invincible.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Feel free to leave your thoughts on this or the other article.