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DIG IT ALL – The Future of Music

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Last week we attended a Q&A in Soho at the Union Club. The panel were George Ergatoudis (Spotify), Jon Davies (Shazam), Luke Ferrar (Polydor) and Ben Rush (AudioLock) the host was Mark Jones (Wall of Sound Record Label).

The subject of the evening was DIG IT ALL – the Future of Music. Does the future lie in streaming and will technological advances affect how we listen to music?

Spotify are admittedly huge and boast being able to give you the soundtrack to your life. We don’t use Spotify as we don’t agree with their ethics, however, ITunes, Apple Music, Shazam and all other download/streaming formats are the same.

The artist gets almost nothing trickling down to them after the behemoth businesses have made their profits. Is that a sad fact of our times? The continued slave labour mentality? Polydor mentioned huge marketing campaigns are now expected of artists because they can’t make any money out of their creativitity and where their passion lies.

They are now expected to sell their souls to the advertising gods and market the whole package, merchandise, designer label collaboration, headphones, footwear, sportswear, bios. It is exactly like their music creativity is not enough. Everyone now has got in on the act to squeeze more money from the artist.

You would not get an artist of another genre subjected to this mentality.

“Oh, I love your artworks, any chance you could come round my house and paint my kitchen, think of the publicity. While you’re doing that, can you design me a tshirt and a pair of trainers too. I’ll tell all my friends!”

The fact is that artists and musicians are being sold down the river by the music industry who want them to bringing more disassociated products to market to exploit them to the maximum. The very lifeblood of music that we love so much but are happy to pay streaming sites for the privilege of listening to.

Their creations are treated as a commodity, a soundtrack to your life, background noise. If we are not careful about how we listen to music and look after the artists then we run the risk of only getting factory fodder because the true artists are too busy trying to work out the latest clothing deal and collaboration for more fat cats to make money out of them.

We ran a straw poll amongst 60 people from ages 18-65 asking them how they listened to music. Interestingly the top three were Vinyl, Spotify and ITunes. Vinyl is having a resurgence of late, because people do like to own a product.

Top reasons for owning vinyl were:

  • wanting to listen to music properly in the way it was originally put together
  • loving the imperfections, the tones the hiss
  • the meditative action of listening and then turning over to the other side
  • the ritual

One of the criticisms is that vinyl is prohibitively expensive for young people, but then when we were young we had great pride in which album or single we first bought from our local record store or Woolworths. It was pretty much a litmus test on your taste in music. As an icebreaker it works every time not sure it would work if you were to have the same conversation about which was the first track you downloaded or streamed.
We are not saying that Vinyl is the future but there is a question that needs to be asked about the future of music and what that means for both the artists who create and we the fans and our experience of listening and appreciating.

Do us a favour, ask your friends how they listen to music, what they think is the future of music and how we can make sure we care enough about artists and what they produce to ensure they are not a dying breed to be replaced by click bait tracks for the busy individual.

For the sake of music – take care how you listen.

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