Music

Tidal, you've got it all wrong.

Music's new imaterial aspects, it's distribution, and the greedy assholes in the middle.

0 I hate Spotify


There are so many things wrong with spotify. We all know how crappy they are towards artists, how business driven they are, how bad they deal with DRM. Yet, they were the first to provide such a wide library, in a convenient format, and have therefor set a standard.

My personal beef with the service does not only relate to the music service, it's about their use of adds. This topic is wide spread across the internet, but for the sake of clarity, I'll stick with how they use them.

Within Spotify, you're either a free user and you get adds, or you pay for the service and you don't get adds. (In my experience, the adds are solely devoted to promoting the service itself, but that may be a Belgium problem.) I'm not interested in paying for spotify, I'm interested in paying for the music I listen to. I have interest in paying the people that put themselves into the music I'm listening to. The spotify model does not include this. Again it's either free and adds or paid and no adds; no difference for the media creator itself.

The examples of artists hating Spotify are out there, so you're not clearing your conscience by paying for Spotify thinking that this way you're listening to music legally, you're just cleaning out your music listening experience.

Beyond this is my hatred of advertising itself, and what it stands for, so when Spotify (could have been any other service) manage to interrupt my sessions with adds, in the most intimate of ways, I draw the line. Never have we had adds of this nature in our living room, in our parties, in cars, in headsets. Worst is that I can't seem to get away from it. Due to the communal nature of music, it's often shared with many, and in that context, I often suffer from my surroundings lack of interest.

1 Disclaimer


I am the problem. Not even going to try and take only part of the responsibility, I am the problem. I download music, I copy, and I find ways of getting media that are clearly not authorized by the vendor. The one thing I don't do is distribute, if only though speakers.

But I admit to it, and I know this is a problem, and I am actively looking for a solution, but nothing fits my requirements yet. Tidal could have been the answer, but it's not, I'll get back to that.

Meanwhile, none of the options made available by vendors fit my needs at this point.

Bandcamp? Yes please! Gladly. Direct sales from labels (thinking of you Hospital Records) Of course! Gladly! This all relates to the immaterial nature music has, and has always had I might point out, but for decades now, music diffusion and distribution was materialistic, we're now well beyond that era, and can't seem to adapt to it yet.

2 Tidal's communication


It's such a shame. It's a real real shame. This could have been the answer. I do like the idea of a service that can take care of itself and provide all the practical aspects of a streaming service. But that's not what their selling.

In itself, the idea of a centralized service for media distribution is not great, but I'm willing to give a little, for the sake of argument. I must come to the realization that nothing will ever meet 100% of my expectancies.

Tidal is basically Spotify with more marketing potential. Just look at the amount of 'stars' present during the press conference. Proof that popular music comes in quantity, not quality. (That was easy.) They present a nice idea, but when you get down to it, they're not talking about the most important axis, the distribution of revenues. In fact, since minute one, the set of artist on stage are referred to as owners. That says enough about who their looking at this platform.

The other aspect they should have talked about was accessibility. How do I get my media up on Tidal? What guarantee do I have as an artist giving access to people though Tidal? They're just creating a new competitor, with a better commercial face.

Also a practical aspect; the music quality argument is fine, really, I appreciate this in a service, and using that as an ability to lay out different types of subscriptions, but this can clearly not work everywhere, we're barely into 4g in Belgium, I'm pretty sure that if I were to consume my music over network in .flac all the time, I'd soon face other fences and compromises.

I've done zero research on this next little point, but I wonder how sustainable it is, energy wise, to stream music over networks in the formats that Spotify, Deezer, Rdio and now Tidal are suggesting versus the manufacturing and distribution of physical CDs. This, like the centralization point mentioned earlier, are aspects that we need to consider in todays world, and for me just an other indication as to where the interests of these services lay.

3 Managing a music collection is a good thing


Collecting media is an enjoyable experience. At the beginning of the Tidal conference, Keys talks about associated memories to music. This is something we all can relate to, but something I'm finding hard to maintain. I actually find it harder and harder to remember the full names of my latest music 'discoveries', because of my new rapport to them. It's all on screen. It's all digital.

I believe this aspect of relative memory is very important to the maintenance of a music enthusiast. Is some cases, I find myself in need of something new, but a lot of the time I know exactly what I want out of my music. I know who to go to for different types of circumstances, and what to research in other situations.

We don't have this anymore. Not collectively at least. The closes I can imagine to a collective music experience, apart for live music of course, is asking someone to share their Soundhound or Shazam log with me. We get distanced from this even more when all our music is centralized and managed by one service.

Take control of your media management. Forget to sync your latest download to your phone. Regret forgetting it. Realize that you're missing this latest track, and realise that it still rings on with you whether your actually listening to it or not. Make your own collection. Organize it. Realize how many albums of this artist you've collected. This meta relationship with media is the answer to a proper relationship with your music, not something you'll listen to once on one of Spotify's genre radio, like and forget instantly because you we're not able to remember the new name from your screen.

4 Music's immateriality is not a bad thing.


Immateriality is not a problem, it's just a character we don't have anymore. And any nostalgics need a shake.

The entire reason we're in this streaming, owning, licensing, piracy, distribution mess is because of materiality. In itself music is inherently immaterial. It was never meant to be held, if was meant to be spread, as loud as possible.

The difficulty was sourced down from the previously required infrastructure around distribution. Studios, recordings, labels, records, cds, cd boxes, album leaflets, all these things are slowly becoming things of the past. Maybe slightly less so for the first two, but even still. The means to produce music are more and more accessible, the means to distribute just need to be grabbed. It is now very easy for a producer to distribute directly and idealy, thanks to the fact that we skip the material music step.

This, in my mind is brilliant. We've heard stories of artists and band of becomming famous though their own distributions, I believe that when production, distribution and communication is all within reach of the artist, we attain to a better musical landscape, a more honest environment in which we can truly distinguish one ability over another. And honesty is something we're missing in big label models.

5 Solutions?


How about a model in which we cut out the middle men? How about excluding the assholes in the middle that exploit artists for their creations. How about we relate to the musicians we are fund of in a different manor? How about a community of trust where artists and enthusiasts come together and show their appreciation for one another, without any commissions between the two.

For artists I see this as making an effort to get closer to their fans, communicating directly with them, doing live events, managing their tours, being present on the internet, and offering multiple ways of getting access to their creations.

For fans, like myself it means having higher expectations for my musical heroes. Expecting that they will chose to work in conditions that truly suit them. And if that is the case, giving retribution. Talking about them, going to shows, reading up on their history, looking into their other projects and of course, giving retribution.

And for this: http://www.donationconspiracy.org/

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