Maybe it’s time to move on from You, Tube…
It seems to go hand-in-hand with discovering music on the internet. Though other services exist online that offer the streaming experience, YouTube has for whatever reason become the main browser-based reference point for searching and listening to old and new music, whether or not you want to see any accompanying video. A new album comes out you’re keen to have a listen to — chances are that someone’s already made a YouTube playlist of the whole thing, mashing videos together to form what could be considered a new DIY style of LP.
Now maybe I’m missing something here, but it feels important to ask…
Why the hell is this?!
How has a website known for moaning cats, squealing babies and rapid pint consumption become the primary global resource for sourcing and promoting exciting, cutting-edge music culture? Perhaps I’m guilty of some snobbery here, but surely there must be a better way for Rough Trade to exhibit the new Parquet Courts record that doesn’t involve ‘watching’ the cover art whilst simultaneously weaving around countless RBS adverts and gaming commentary videos? I feel like the questions always been there, but at the same time it’s always seemed like such a petty complaint — no one gets hurt, there’s nothing illegal about it, we get free streams, why fix what isn’t broken, right? Well unfortunately it appears that recently this tried-and-tested method has started to show some cracks.
Google, who own YouTube, have recently been renegotiating their contracts with a number of labels whose artists showcase their music on the site, and these discussions appear to have been a little more bumpy than usual. As Google move towards the launch of their own Spotify-esque music subscription service, having the same music freely available on YouTube is somewhat a notable clash of business model. Reaching new terms and agreements that solve this problem has been tricky for Google, as a number of labels and musicians are unhappy with the way they are being treated. Impala, a body representing a number of key indie labels including XL Recordings, 4AD and Domino, is seeking legal assistance from the European Commission in their fight against the high demands set by the Californian company. Negotiations are so stunted in fact that according to YouTube’s head of content and business operations Robert Kyncl, videos from these labels could be blocked from the site “in a matter of days” at the time of writing.
So what to do? Where to turn if we can no longer binge on album playlist after album playlist? Sure we can migrate to alternatives like Grooveshark or the slightly shinier Rdio and get some more ad-infested content, but who’s to say that a similar degree of success there won’t lead to similar problems? In the end, money always seems to get involved — advertisers, artists, labels, businessman, they all want to make more of it, whilst the consumer it would seem wants to spend less of it.
And that’s why I’d like to argue for a method of musical consumption that seems to have very much gone out of favour — just buying a copy.
But this involves spending money. How can you accept this?!?!122?!
Hear me out. Buying music is wonderful. Paying real money to own a copy of a record is a lovely experience, it’s clean, pleasant, easy, it’s an action that gives the thing so much more value. In this environment, music is not a commodity where more is necessarily better, and the overwhelming volume of content fuels a desire to consume more, more, MORE. It lets you take a breath and appreciate the craft and production of an LP as a beautifully formed entity in of itself – we don’t have to think of a full album release as a hobbled-together listing of poor quality mp3s and boisterous car adverts. Banner ads, broken links, unpleasant court action going on behind the scenes — lets have away with it. It’s time to fall back in love with buying music.
If Avalanche haven’t got their little stall up today, or Underground Solushun is closed, heres a few sites that feel like they’ve got it right: