Entry #4 – My Thoughts On The Whole Streaming Ordeal

That photo up above is credited towards Saving Country Music, although we’ll be getting to them in a bit.

Streaming is a polarizing topic in the music industry, and it’s one that keeps getting bigger. We keep feeding the elephant in the room lots of sweets and goodies (making him grow larger) so to say. Anyway, the beginning of today’s discussion is linked towards this article from NPR, more importantly the effects of streaming and how it affects the industry, artists, and fans.

Today, a streaming service such as Spotify has 50 million subscribers (according to that article), including yours truly. I myself pay for Spotify premium, and I have to say I’m quite happy with it. I’m a music nerd, and now that I have my own platform to express these thoughts, I want to be sure I can hear all of the artists out there. This isn’t the same age where you had to hope radio played your favorite song, now you can pull it up when you like!

The problem with streaming, or at least the problems that people have voiced about streaming have never been about its existence. It’s awesome to have a network that allows people to listen to music whenever they want. I wish I had it as a kid. No, the problems have always been concerned with fairness in regards to how artists are affected by streaming. The traditional argument is that they’ve been treated quite poorly (putting it mildly).

This article in particular detailed how Spotify had recently teamed up with Universal Music to withhold offering certain albums to free users for as long as two weeks.  Ultimately the plan is to hopefully get more people to pay for Spotify premium rather than just use it for free and suffer through the advertisements.

One quote in particular I thought was interesting (stated by Universal Music chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge) was, “Streaming is both the dominant source of revenue for the major labels”. I actually didn’t know it had grown that large, but according to research, it is.

Streaming pie chart

Anyway, on to the Saving Country Music article. Now, I’ve been a fan of Trigger’s work for a long time, and to see him address this issue is fantastic. Trigger takes issue not with the people who pay to stream (like me), but the people who don’t pay to stream.

Really, it is just a mere $10 an entire month, and with the way I consume music, it should be a LOT higher. Maybe that’s a solution – raise the price a little. Not a lot of course, after all, streaming is helping the industry grow in a troubling time, but perhaps a slight increase to $15 would go a little way. Then again, it might also piss off the people who use the service as well, so my idea can probably be thrown out the window.

Anyway, much like Trigger says, it’s important to note that YOU STILL CAN BUY MUSIC! Typically if I hear something I like, I wait until payday to show my support if I can’t buy something right then and there. I first heard Shinyribs on Spotify, but today I coughed up $9.49 over at Google Play for a great album, and I don’t regret a thing.

One important thing to keep in mind with streaming that I want to address to fans is – please don’t abuse it. Yes, it’s nice, and I myself love discovering new music everyday. But if you do truly love something or want it to stick around, pay for it! I get it, money’s tight, but at least buy something to show your support. A t-shirt, a hard copy CD, vinyl, poster, anything! What’s better too, buy it directly from their website if you can. That’s the undisputed best way to show your support.

From a business standpoint, I also think it’s important for artists (for their own sake) to not try to “wage a war” on streaming. You won’t ultimately win. Streaming is fortunately and unfortunately here to stay, and pissing off fans isn’t a wise business investment, no matter how loyal your fans are. Fans are fickle (let’s be honest), so I get that it may be tough, but the artists who embrace it rather than fight it are the ones who will come out on top, especially if the music is you know, good.

To go off topic for a moment, one business tactic that I like seeing is the release of Chris Stapleton’s upcoming album, From A Room Volume 1. If you’re an iTunes user, click here. If you’re a Google Play user, click here. Do you notice anything? Probably not from simply clicking on the link, but for those who can see it, you’ll notice you can preview the entire record. Why did it take until 2017 to think of this? I don’t know about you all, but I hate it when I hear a pre-release track to an album only to be completely disappointed with the rest of it or else set up expectations listening to a few other tracks.

With the Stapleton album, I’m excited to hear the full album since the previews have given me a good taste of what’s yet to come. I’ve pre-ordered it and am anxiously waiting its release, and in today’s world where there’s something coming out every five minutes, it’s nice to be excited to hear something again.

Now you might say, “well, you can do that anyway on the release day! What’s so special about this”? That’s true, but why wait until your album has to compete with others on release days? It might lose attention to some other album that more people are interested in, and as a result you might get lose in the shuffle, so why not just give a taste of it early?

Granted, one objection you could formulate to this is that, by showing people exactly what they’re going to get it may also drive them away (if they don’t like what they hear), but really I do believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. If someone likes what they hear and wants to hear the rest come release day, maybe they’ll either at least buy the album in some type of format, or the very least pay to stream and do something for the artists. Who knows?

To end today’s discussion, I’ll share this tweet from artist Rich O’ Toole

Yes, please buy music, but if you can’t always do that, at least pay to stream. Support the music you love in some type of fashion.


Entry #2 – I Miss The (Old) Band Perry

As I sat in the office wondering what to write about for today (at the time it would have been considered the next day), and nothing had hit me for awhile. A “review”? No, I don’t really want to go down that avenue. A piece about some of my favorite artists? No, too hard to narrow down. So what?

Well, it hit as I was driving home from work last night. I was tired admittedly, and while I don’t often like to turn on my radio these days, I needed it to stay awake. So I flicked the dial – just kidding, in this day and age it’s “pushing a button”, and what song played? The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two”, and then I thought to myself, “I’ve got an idea”.

There have been numerous thinkpieces citing the Band Perry’s almighty fall from grace, and I’m late in covering all of that, but that’s not what this is about anyway. Really, I just want to have a place to say, “I miss you, Band Perry”. As someone who enjoys a good rootsy country sound, this band was providing something different from the mainstream when they arrived onto the scene. “Hip To My Heart” wasn’t all that special, but the remaining singles from their debut album all had a certain flair to them that was unique. Moreover, it showed a band with a ton of promise.

2012’s Pioneer seems to draw ire from the traditional crowd (and even some hardcore Band Perry fans). Personally, I found that the added pop-rock textures contributed to their signature roots sound instead of detracted from it. The title track may have been one of my favorite songs of 2013, and “Better Dig Two” had such a creepy, malicious tone to it that I couldn’t believe it was a huge hit in 2012! It also goes to show how far country radio has slipped away since 2012, but that’s another discussion for another time and place.

It wasn’t even like the music was simply good, they were also having some tremendous success with it as well! One might argue that their cover of Glen Campbell’s “Gentle On My Mind” hindered their success by peaking at #30 on the Billboard Country Airplay charts, but come on, that was a song merely intended to draw promotion for the I’ll Be Me movie. The point is, this band was red hot.

And then “Live Forever” happened. It’s sort of like when your child, a promising architect decides that he’s happy working forever at the local 7-11. Yeah, you’ll go far with that Bobby. Way to let Mom and Dad down. Jokes aside, it wasn’t that the band wanted to push their love for Pop even further. After all, we all got a taste of that on their Pioneer album. It was admittedly disappointing to hear the direction the band wanted to go in as a fan, but still, I didn’t want to begrudge them any success they desired.

But then it became more than just the music. That changed, yes, but so did their attire, and worst of all their attitudes did as well. It’s no surprise Scott Borchetta didn’t want anything to do with them. They were completely off their rockers.

The Band Perry Goth Stage

Ever since then, they haven’t been the same at all. “Comeback Kid” was an incredibly offensive double set of middle fingers towards their fans, and their new song “Stay In The Dark” isn’t terrible, but it’s so lifeless.

As I sit and type this, I’m listening to some of my favorite songs of theirs like “Pioneer”, “Better Dig Two”, “All Your Life”, and especially their cover of “Gentle On My Mind” and wondering what happened. They went from a family band to looking like the Simpsons, and now it seems they’re in their goth stage. Again, all of the best words about this band have been said by others. This is just another letter from a former fan.

I’m not angry as I type this. Again, I don’t begrudge anyone their success. I’m just disappointed as a fan, because while we’ve had artists we all love fall from grace, normally it’s because of label politics. It’s rare that the band kills their career all by themselves just as the Band Perry had.