Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Old dog. New tricks. And a total bargain...

My liking for music in physical format needs no further mention. That is still true - I have not changed my spots all of a sudden.
When, however, Spotify offered me 'Premium' for three months at the princely sum of £0.99 and that payment is for all three months, not per month. It would have been churlish to look a gift horse in the mouth.
It will not alter the amount of physical music I actually purchase but, my goodness, it is facilitating the task of listening to new music and, especially if I'm uncertain about it, also making it a whole lot easier. It might even lead to me purchasing more physical music. It is not that it is impossible to do this with Spotify 'free' but the lack of advertisements actually does make a difference. The blurb said that the sound quality is also noticeably better. I was slightly dubious about that, but then again 99p is not a sum even I was afraid to wager on the possibility. Pending more demanding tests this coming weekend I'm inclined to the idea that this might actually be true.

What has impressed me, and again I could have done this with 'free' but this was the impetus to explore, was the coverage. The removal from Spotify of the music of Taylor Swift became something of a cause célèbre in late 2014 but it is just one small canon of work in the great scheme of things. It was an otherwise unremarkable and quite acceptable commercial response to perceived market forces. It, the music and the publishing phenomenon, is easily found elsewhere quite legally and not least in physical formats, including vinyl. Deleting pressings to promote the sale of newer ones is as old as the mass market for music.
What impresses me more is the sheer scope of the music to be found here - both old and new and across all genres - and with that comes the opportunity to discover, listen and then promote the music of artists less well known should one feel so inclined.
It is something human to look for the newest things and music is no exception - the internet is perfect for this. Finding older, often obscure, things has also been revolutionised but the foil is not so easy to overcome; the contemporary details are either unavailable or require lateral thinking and often more than a little guile to uncover. That, however, is also part of the thrill of the chase - and another use of foil.

I have an idea:
It is not scientific but nevertheless empirical observations can be of great value. It is to test Spotify by searching for a variety of recordings
, both recent and old, that I know or believe are hard to source on a physical format and that I either already have or have tried to find in the past. It has already yielded, as a more or less random 'hit' -  an album of folk music from NE England that I was only faintly aware of hitherto and was released in 1975. The result... I have now bought it on original vinyl.
This new resource will quite possibly shape much of my thinking over the next couple of months. I'm also imagining those artists that I expect/desire to see at the festivals that I shall or even just may attend this coming summer.
Items never released in a digital format are, unsurprisingly, extremely unlikely to feature. This is not to be found therefore - Cate Le Bon 'Edrych yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg' (2008). It was released only on 10" vinyl  but the title is to a reasonable degree the Welsh equivalent of the English phrase 'to look a gift horse in the mouth', more literally it is 'to look into the eyes of a borrowed horse'. I rather like that - there's something about it that makes the horse, rather than the lessor, the more important part of the deal.

I know that it is not the weekend yet...
What the hell, I'm doing some testing now and not least because I'm thinking about those artists that I might be seeing at this summer's festivals. There are some big announcements coming soon.

This artist would be high on my wish list. To say she is underrated is only the half of it.
The Spotify search box is not, or so it seems to me, nearly as good at guessing your mind as some but it's worth a few tries to find what you are searching for. It is also less comprehensive in its results, so you need to be as precise as you are able to be for that reason alone. You can also do this reversibly to good effect - if you know only a song title and artist you can fairly easily get back to the album or other resource from which it came.
It is a collision of new and old technology and quite possibly not to the detriment of either. If you want an old physical recording then not only can you find a source of it on-line but, quite possibly, you can even listen to at least some of it the same way before you commit to purchase.
The sale of an LP that the purchaser regrets buying does neither party any good in the longer term: a fact that, in the quest for 'first-week sales' and 'chart penetration', the major labels forgot somewhere down the line.

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