Monday, March 30, 2015

New Music 2015 - Part 25 - Hannah Rose Platt - Portraits

Can a reason be divined for the mutual issues of mistrust that exist between enemies to be overcome? Possibly not, but we must hope so. I was listening to the news today and while it is not directly about that it made me wonder...
Cut to a longer standing situation, albeit less threatening by a million miles; that is the relationship between US country music, the UK and the rest of Europe and the omens now look pretty promising.
It occurred to me whilst I was listening to this LP. 
I have decided not to write a post about the album and then another about the ideas that it inspired. It seemed better done as a tract, one non-religious though rather less apolitical.

To an extent I think that that without the former my inspiration for lateral thinking about the other matters might not have happened quite as it did. I shall return to the album at the end, but suffice it to say that I had also been thinking about mathematics and statistics, in a somewhat abstract sense, for a completely different reason in any case.
What then happened is that I started thinking about how all this might apply to the relations between music labels, artists and the consumers over the last twenty-five years or so. I haven't worked this through fully, even in my mind, as yet but I like the idea of doing so. I suspect that this is an interesting case of playing a zero-sum game, initially between the major labels and nowhere more so than in their hegemony of the (and therefore almost entirely US) market for 'country music'. Not only could they control the market they could shape it as they saw fit...  contracts, and failing that sheer dollars, could take care of that. In that model there is an island of stability, within which all participants stand to lose more than they would gain by disrupting the status quo. That is not to say that is a cartel, as such, but it is cozy. This is the zero-sum game by definition and it works until there is enough outside pressure, angst even, for sufficient nascent feelings of power for these people such that they start taking real risks; either by jumping off the gravy-train or simply attacking, guerilla style, from the frustration of not being able to see a way of getting aboard. That includes all people involved in the chain - from artists, engineers, producers and studios to independent labels and distributors and stores.
There becomes a point at which the zero-sum game breaks down. This failure is then liable to destroy the tenets of Nash Equilibrium; this predicts that producers [in the sense of those that bring any product to market and not the more specific 'music producer' sense] will control supply (in whatever way is appropriate to that industry or market) to maximise the profits for all (major) players.  It is a cartel, by any other name, but is not necessarily illegal. The recent collapse in the price of oil is a good example of that unravelling. The various threads of the music industry seem to be making good progress putting that kind of nonsense to bed and it is about time too. 
To get back to where I started...
Portraits is a stunning listen and, whilst it was recorded in Nashville with a phalanx of country music greats in support, Hannah Rose Platt is from Liverpool and now based in London. The album is self-released and all but two songs are her own, the other two are co-writes. The Nashville equilibrium is being well and truly perturbed, from within the US and without, and we will all benefit from that.

Here is a taster of the album.

No comments: