Today’s post is a bit of a thoughtful one but it’s something that’s important to me and I think it’s important that the conversations on it don’t stop.
I’ve always considered myself a true music lover- whether I’m on the tube, sat at work or cooking dinner, there is nearly always a soundtrack to what I’m doing and my favourite past time is going to gigs and festivals and hearing new bands. Of course, I spend a large amount on gig tickets as live music is a passion for me but I’ve also been a Spotify advocate since it launched in the U.K. as I really do believe the opportunity to hear new music legally is so valuable- I consume so much music that it would simply be impossible for me to buy all the albums I want to hear, unless I win the lottery. It’s a great way for bands to get exposure as you can stumble across things you would never have listened to otherwise and we have never had more freedom of choice or independence to discover new music for ourselves than we do with services like Spotify. But as a result, it became so easy for me to consume all the music I wanted at the push of a button that I stopped purchasing physical CD’s or even digital downloads.
However, recently a debut album I was excited about was released but, on the day before the release it materialised that the band were making the brave decision not to put it on any streaming services for a little while, to encourage people to buy it. At first, I was a little bit indignant; why should they be any different? There are so many bands fighting for us to hear their music, why should they expect that we would make the effort for them over all the others? But I very quickly realised that it wasn’t them at fault- it’s me. The particular band in question a band who are doing reasonably well for themselves and getting a good name amongst music fans and critics but they have recently left their jobs in an attempt to make music full-time so they need the support of album sales and ticket sales to make that possible. I happen to know that about them but they almost certainly aren’t alone, I’m sure this is a common situation for a young band or musician to find themselves in. And, as a result, I wandered over to my local record store (the wonderful Rough Trade West, for anyone in need of a recommendation) and picked up their album. Not only did I feel good in the knowledge I was supporting them and hopefully enabling them to continue making and releasing music but I enjoyed the experience- there’s something to be savoured in flicking through the CD’s or vinyls and making your choice, listening to what’s playing in the shop and maybe coming across something you didn’t expect to find, then coming home with your new purchase and putting it on for the first time, while leafing through the sleeve notes- it is way more of an experience than pressing play on Spotify will ever be.
So, from here on in I’m making a resolution and I’m quite ashamed I’m only making it now: I am going to make a real effort to buy more albums. (Better late than never!) And not from Amazon, either but supporting independent record shops, the lovely hidey holes that they are. Record Store Day gets a huge response, every year, but how many people then go on to use those record shops on the other 364 days of the year, when it’s not so hyped? You can go through every overdone argument in the book- you wouldn’t borrow all your clothes, why would you borrow your music etc etc, but the fact is simple- if we don’t start paying properly for our music, someone has to and there’s a genuine concern that the money will run out. Of course, I won’t be able to buy everything I listen to, so my Spotify subscription is going to continue, for making my playlists and going on listening binges but I love music and I think musicians need our support, now more than ever.