Monday Musing: Art, Folk, Pop And The Taxonomy Of Musical Culture

There’s a broad classification of musical types that has some common currency, in artistic, marketing and academic circles. I want to briefly consider what it is, where it draws the lines between musics, whether it holds water, and what use it might be to those of us that think about music for whatever reason. There’s two additional widespread categories I could add to art, folk and popular music: jazz and world music. When I was training to teach music, my knowledge of music was assessed through a questionnaire which classified music on this basis…

Saturday Summary 019

The big news this week is Spotify’s North American launch, but there’s really nothing to say about that so far. It will have some kind of an impact, but exactly how much of one remains to be seen. I don’t know what the end user deal looks like at launch, but here in Europe it’s gone very crappy for those on the free version. It’s certainly true that listeners don’t really care whether or not they ‘own’ a sound, as long as they have access to it, but whether Spotify offers the most attractive means of access for Americans I don’t know.

Monday Musings: Music, Politics, Subculture and Resistance

My thinking in various areas has been converging in recent months. For a while this weekly series of essays was alternating between pieces on the music industry, and pieces on music criticism: it’s getting steadily harder for me to maintain that distinction. For one thing, my valuations of music are not entirely independent of my position on various aspects of musical production: recordings that contain audible signs of artistic integrity tend to sound better to me than those that sound as though they were made with the market in mind.

Saturday Summary 018

A few scattered shots in the long range artillery duel over free music this week, but nothing dramatic. Lots of interesting articles though, on various topics. http://dj.dancecult.net/index.php/journal/article/view/81/134 This is a really interesting and in depth article on the role of militarist imagery in industrial music, but its observations are clearly applicable to other musics that utilise similar visuals. There’s often a deliberate conflict between the associations of imagery and the use to which it is put, but often it is a less aware appropriation, as made clear by the musician in this article who seems to think that saying he uses military uniforms because he finds them sexy is the end of the debate…

Saturday Summary 017

This week, Myspace gets humiliated again, and lots of people have thoughts about new models for the music business. http://blancomusic.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/whats-all-this-about-spotify-again/ An enlightening perspective from an independent label on Spotify’s business practices. While there is an undeniable parallel with radio, and presence on streaming services may be of real promotional value to some of the smaller players, unless you’re a major then the paid streaming model is essentially based on theft: someone other than the rights holder being the financial beneficiary of distribution.

Saturday Summary 015

Freemium, and streaming models that offer entirely chimerical value are struggling this week. Which is nice. Pointless middlemen are finding it harder to get by in a market where they can no longer control access, and where ideological control structures are slipping away (or are starting to reflect a reshaped power structure). Oops, did I sound Marxist? I’m not, but the industry’s travails give the lie to the line they peddle about the nature of the business.

Monday Musings: What’s So Good About Music?

I’ve been thinking back recently to my abortive attempt to train as a secondary school music teacher, and the furious bout of self-examination it induced. The process, which was not a positive one, but from which I learned a great deal, forced me to question, and explicitly articulate the value that I place on music. This is a very interesting question: most people will not be able to provide you with a coherent response, and there is clearly no single answer, any more than there is one single music.

Monday Musings: Exciting Times In Music & The Week’s News Roundup

It’s definitely an exciting time to be active in music, for a host of reasons. The industry is in flux, and it’s fascinating to watch its convulsions as the market works out what sort of distribution mechanisms it’s going to support. There are new technologies for musicians springing up on a daily basis that are useful, accessible and easy, in both production and marketing/ distribution. The channels of communication are open: artists are now at liberty to make their pitch on their own terms, and millions of people are listening.