Spotify…Shagadelic Or The Death Star?

Well one thing that is true, like any great film Spotify has got everyone talking. Will it be a timeless classic or just a movie of the moment? This is not a niche launch in terms of the critics, Spotify is fashionable to have an opinion on and those opinions are diverse and certainly interesting and ongoing!

The dynamic and well informed opinions are a great script for how complex the music industry can be and also how passionate the people who are part of the industry are anout creativity and great music and how we can continue to make this possible.

There have been sequels already and the debate and discussion continues as Spotify launches in new territories and artists leave the theatre or arrival, in terms PR spikes and social media conversations Spotify is never less than four stars.

When Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace removed their albums from Spotify, the debate spiked again, particularly raging over the value of streaming music services for musicians and the music industry. Not a new debate, but such an emotional debate it will continue, in my opinion, until artists (individually) can see that streaming works for them.

The greatest aspect of debates are that you may learn (should learn something) new from your opponents. In respect of this we have brought together some of the powerful, emotional opinions with the links to the original blogs/posts…yeah baby!

Join the debate…..

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The good people over at The Guardian have come up with an alphabetical guide to modern day pop, From Afrobeats to Zombie Rock and everywhere in between, It’s a comprehensive list of genres, some of which you’ll know and others that sound like they were made up 5 minutes ago.
You can head on over to the Guardian site for the full A-Z breakdown
and just in case you thought these were made up, they’ve even gone and created an accompanying A-Z Spotify playlist which gives you an audio taste of 25 of the 26 genres (Tumblrwave is just too damn new apparently) Check it out below.

The good people over at The Guardian have come up with an alphabetical guide to modern day pop, From Afrobeats to Zombie Rock and everywhere in between, It’s a comprehensive list of genres, some of which you’ll know and others that sound like they were made up 5 minutes ago.

You can head on over to the Guardian site for the full A-Z breakdown

and just in case you thought these were made up, they’ve even gone and created an accompanying A-Z Spotify playlist which gives you an audio taste of 25 of the 26 genres (Tumblrwave is just too damn new apparently) Check it out below.


So today sees the launch of Spotify in Australia and as a result 22 million Australian’s now have the opportunity to access all the music they want legitimately.

There will be a lot of media debate this week about whether Spotify and streaming subscription services will impact iTunes especially since there is a free service - users can listen for free in exchange for listening to three to four minutes of advertising every hour.

But we should be wary not to jump on this bandwagon and look around the world and see where streaming subscription services and iTunes operate together and where iTunes remains the dominant digital service retailer even though Spotify has launched there and been up and running for a while. It is only in markets such as Sweden, where Spotify first launched in 2008 that Spotify is the number one digital contributor – after four years!

As Kate Vale, who heads up Spotify down under cites “Our major competitor and the people we are trying to get onto Spotify are those that are illegally downloading music,” She believes there are about 2.8 million Aussies illegally downloading music every month.

Well if we can encourage 2.8million people to get with the story that music does matter and to start getting music via services that pay artists for their copyrights then that is a great thing!

And look at all the fun we can have with services like and Spotify…

You can share tracks via Facebook, twitter in one click

And there are all the apps that are being integrated into Spotify. My favourite of the moment being We are Hunted. All these apps are there to enable us to discover music.

You can create playlists and subscribe to them to get updates…

Here’s some playlists Warner has created for your listening pleasure…follow us on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe via Facebook and we’ll make sure you get to know all the tunes we’re loving as we discover them.

Cool Accidents Presents

Warner Music Presents

Neon Club Hits

Maniacs Rock Out To

Pop Mob Presents

-Beth A

Are We Losing Respect For Music?

Via The Telegraph

This isn’t a critique of Simon Cowell, the Baron Bowdleriser of Pop, the exploitation culture of talent shows, or the paucity of music in the London 2012 Festival programme. It’s much simpler than that. I’m worried about our listening habits.

Look at the panorama of music available to us today. We have access to any song we’ve ever wanted to listen to. Pay £120 a year to Spotify and you get 16 million songs, or use YouTube or one of the other numerous music discovery sites to find what you want. It’s a glorious torrent of tunes made accessible by the MP3 and higher bandwidth. The main benefit is obvious: we can listen to and discover more music than ever before. Additionally, the ease of sharing music creates communities across social networks and many older music fans have rediscovered the songs of their youth. Just last night my great uncle in San Francisco sent me a message thanking me for introducing him to Spotify. There is no orthodoxy or dominant genre; everything exists on an even playing field. With this democratisation comes the need for artists to step up their game; they have to be brilliant to be heard.

The one thing we don’t have more of is time. We cannot listen to the entire matrix of music, nor can we pay attention to, say, 100 songs, in the same way as we can 10. Our listening is often quicker, shallower and of a lesser quality, through tinny computer speakers and low bit rate streams and downloads. It is in danger of degrading and trivialising what we’re hearing. In Simon Reynolds’ words: “every gain in consumer-empowering convenience has come at the cost of disempowering the power of art to dominate our attention, to induce a state of aesthetic surrender.”

An undertow of wariness crept up on me over the last year. Albums didn’t have the same amount of significance as before, apart from those I listened to many times for work. I found myself flippantly turning my back on others that I deemed too difficult. Panic appeared at the amount of music that was on offer, often resulting in a retreat to Radiohead. I returned from SXSW, the great new music festival in Texas, feeling as if I’d OD’d on pop.

Most of all I missed the moment when a piece of music transports you to a particular time and a place. You know the feeling. Three bars in and you can smell the car seat, see the friend’s silhouette in the sun, feel the frosty night, hear the traffic of a foreign city, shudder with relief that a break-up is over. I wanted these associations again.

I’ve realised that I’m not alone. I set the question to Twitter the other day. Replies came thick and fast: “I find it impossible to fully tune in to a LP while working”; “I have a constant guilt complex I’m not listening to enough or listening long enough. The pressure to keep up is crippling!”; “I judge on first listen, rarely give anything the benefit of the doubt. Expect it to connect somewhere instantly”. Also, increased vinyl sales for the sixth year running, suggest that we’re seeking better ways to listen.

This month the electronic artist Nicolas Jaar releases his own listening alternative, a new MP3 player called the “Prism”. The silver device, stylish and small enough to fit in your hand, holds music that cannot be listened to anywhere else. No Soundcloud, no Bandcamp, no YouTube.

Jaar designed the cube to restore the idea of physicality to his music and force the listener to hear it away from, in particular, computer speakers. He told me:

We’re listening out of a computer on a YouTube link and that’s probably the worst music has ever sounded, ever, and not what the artist intended. We’re losing respect for the listening experience of music.

Jaar’s other gripe is the low quality of CDs (“It’s a product that’s been created solely for the purpose of being sold and shipped in the cheapest, easiest and fastest way possible”) – so he wanted to make something different. Encouraged by rising vinyl sales and distressed by receiving his first album – “I looked at the CD and touched the CD and realised that it didn’t do justice to what I was trying to say” – he took the matter into his own hands.

One of his priorities was that the new device would be shareable. The prism comes with a headphone jack on either side, so two people can listen to it at once. The ideal listening spot, he tells me, is “in bed with a lover”. Oo-er.

A gift for fans in the shape of a cube, a smart vinyl, or an interesting cover sleeve, such as Factory Floor’s upcoming plastic moulds, is one way for the artist to direct listening habits, or at least encourage the recipient to think, but what can we do if we feel we’re treating music, well, like a tart?

Pop savant Mark Wood made a decision to change his music habits a couple of years ago when he realised he wasn’t listening properly. One Christmas he looked at a great big pile of albums he wanted to listen to and thought “this is f—ing ridiculous”. He said:

When I was 16, that amount would have been a year’s worth of records and I would have stuck with them because it was such a big thing to invest a fiver. If it didn’t float your boat immediately, you didn’t have an option because you couldn’t just go and buy another one. Pretty much most of my favourite albums I didn’t like the first time.

Wood felt he was spending money on music but not giving it any respect. Albums were like “seeds falling on barren ground”. He found that in the last decade, fewer albums had “stuck” in the way they had done in the past, and wanted to see if this was just a symptom of his getting older. “I’d get completely overwhelmed and just play Bowie or The Smiths that I’ve loved from 15. I realised that all this choice was not really getting me anywhere.”

The strategy was to pretend that he didn’t have all this new found access, and limit himself to five albums a month. At the beginning of every month he’d wipe his iPod and load up the next batch (a mixture of new and old). He jokingly compares the first couple of weeks to heroin withdrawal symptoms, and “couldn’t believe that if something was getting on my nerves, I couldn’t just change it.”

Wood gives many examples of “difficult” albums by artists such as Fever Ray, Roy Harper, Morrissey, which he ran away from many times in the past, flicking to something easier. About Trout Mask Replica, he said: “It’s not difficult if you play it more than three times. After I had it on my iPod a week I could see exactly what he [Captain Beefheart] was trying to do.”

He lets himself listen to singles and the radio, because he needs to keep up with what’s new for part of his job. But the benefits of his detox have encouraged him to continue. He’s also regained that sense of association I’ve been missing:

Occasionally I go back to what I was playing a year ago and it’s brilliant. It almost measures time, which is what music always did. When you’re steeped in an album and you heard it five years on and it takes you straight back.

Middlemarch isn’t an easy read and Dogville isn’t an easy watch, but pleasure is found in the struggle to “get it”. The more we listen to a piece of music, the more we will get out of it. Alongside this, discovery of new detail and comfort of familiarity brings a joy rarely achieved without repetition. So if the volume of stuff we possess puts us off delving into difficult pieces, or listening with a keen and thoughtful ear, then perhaps we should try limiting ourselves. Sometimes, less is more.

-Lucy Jones

Keep Music Alive, Subscribe Here.

“What was the first record you ever bought?” This used to be a common question amongst me and my friends, but if you are of today’s generation the question is more likely to be “what’s your favourite track of all time?”

As youngsters we used to talk about how many CDs we had … over the last ten years or so this has changed to boasting about how many tracks you have and how full your iPod is. The thing that we all had in common was discussing ownership and the concept of collecting. We were just moving into the digital ages for the music industry.

Those who weren’t ready to move into the digital world reminisce about the importance of touching and feeling their records; the artwork and the complete package that came with every band’s recording. Essentially this beauty was killed when we moved from vinyl to CDs, and somewhere along that journey the booklet and packaging downgraded to a bit of plastic that chipped and typically a 4 page booklet.

Whilst physical products changed at the same time illegitimate downloading became rife. People became consumed with filling their hard drives with ‘all they could ever have’, even though we only have so many minutes available to us each day and there was no way we could listen to everything.

Around the year 2000 the record industry got out their whip and took on the mission of closing down peer to peer services. Napster closed in 2001. At this point in history the focus was on the demise of peer to peer rather than embracing and legitimising amazing technology. So whilst Napster were being taken to court for millions of dollars, new start-ups took on the mighty challenge of licensing.

As the iPod generation crossed from early adopters to your next door neighbour, Apple did the greatest thing for legitimising digital music and their business. In 2003 iTunes launched their Music Store in US and a year later UK and Europe (2004) and Australia (2005) followed.

Now when a conversation happens about downloading music in Australia iTunes is the reference point. Apple, to date, have a monopoly on digital music (and film and TV for that matter) and the key reason they have this monopoly is that it works and works damn well. Whilst iTunes were laying the foundations for legitimate music services, and the adoption of mp3 players with white headphones took place globally, other entrepreneurs were trying to create a service that would scale and succeed.

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Steven Levy On Facebook, Spotify and the Future of Music.

Via Wired

Even if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hadn’t been introduced to Spotify two years ago, it was probably inevitable that the two companies would hook up. The European music service had already won millions of fans, thanks to a business model that allowed music nuts to stream any song, instantly, for free. More important, it made it easy for people to share music with one another. This vision—of music as a social experience—fit perfectly with Facebook’s view of the world, which values sharing over all else. And that’s why, when former Facebook president and Napster cofounder Sean Parker discovered Spotify in 2009, he made a point of telling Zuckerberg about it.

“I’d never even heard of Spotify, but Sean mentioned it to me one day,” Zuckerberg says. “I was like, wow, this person has built a really cool music product and also understands how you can integrate social things in it.” Within a day, Zuckerberg had updated his Facebook status: Spotify is so good.

This brief blessing from the Pope of Poke presaged a turning point for the entire music industry. The original Napster—which let users download practically any song for free—may have died a decade ago, but its ghost still haunts the major labels. Unleashed in a dorm room in 1999 and killed in a courtroom in 2001, it taught a generation that music should be obtained with mouseclicks, not money. Music executives interpreted it differently: Allow people to share music online and they will never pay for it again. For much of the past decade, their attitude toward digital music and licensing has been driven by the fear that showing one bit of flexibility will summon Napster back from the grave to destroy what’s left of their business.

But that’s changing now. In September, after two years of speculation following Zuckerberg’s four-word swoon, Facebook announced an ambitious initiative that lets its users quickly and easily share music with one another—in many cases for free. Facebook worked closely with Spotify, as well as with a dozen other services, and is opening itself up to potentially hundreds more. Now Facebook users will see the songs that their friends listen to, the playlists they compile, and the bands they discover. And they can easily hear all that music with a single mouseclick.

An orgy of free song-sharing seems to be exactly the kind of thing that the horrified labels would quickly clamp down on. But they appear to be starting to accept that their fortunes rest with the geeks. Or at least they’re trying to talk a good game. “I’m not part of the past—I’m part of the future,” says Lucian Grainge, chair and CEO of the world’s biggest label, Universal Music Group. “There’s a new philosophy, a new way of thinking.”

Facebook’s music initiative is only one example of the neo-Napster transformation in which music is streamed from a collection of servers, rather than stored on local hard drives. Indeed, over the past year, every dominant Internet company—including Apple, Amazon, and Google—has ramped up a streaming music service, each one an attempt to reinvent the way we purchase and listen to music. Smaller companies like Rhapsody and the personalized radio service Pandora have championed the streaming model for years; now they are being joined by second-generation services like Rdio, MOG, and Turntable.

Taken together, all of this activity is shaking up an industry that has stubbornly resisted change. The music world has barely managed to process the revolution wrought when songs became files. But streaming subscription services hasten an even bigger upheaval: songs becoming links, playable with one click, from a newsfeed, email, or Facebook profile. The real fun is about to begin.

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