Our decision a few years ago to no longer cover “news” as a matter of course on the website is one that we have few regrets over. There is a lot of stuff that happens over the course of a year that get press a... Read More...
Over the past couple years, we've published two massive articles about the current state and impending trends of music consumption—my deep dive on the tough realities of streaming platforms and Nick's bullshit-free synopsis of Nielsen's 2016 music industry report. While both of these pieces had minimal references to metal, the research and analysis we presented outlines some staggering changes to the entirety of music, changes that continue to expand and show no sign of slowing. And though it's been just over a year since I channeled my B.A. thesis on streaming for my deep dive, Billboard published a story that compelled me to revisit the topic and write down my thoughts as soon as possible. The facts of the story are relatively simple—because Billboard now incorporates track streams into the sales figures they consider, The Weeknd's Starboy remained at #1 on the Top 200 for this week because it technically "sold" more albums than The XX's I See You, landing the British indie pop trio at #2 on the list despite selling more actual albums. This story stopped me in my tracks, as it poses an equally intriguing and worrisome question - are streams and purchases comparable, and what are the implications if Billboard thinks they are?
We've covered the concept of streaming exclusivity before, including our extensive deep dive on steaming services and our multiple opinion pieces on Protest the Hero's Pacific Myth. But 2016 has seen an explosion of high-profile artists releasing exclusive, stream-only releases on platforms like Tidal and Apple Music. With industry heavyweights like Kanye West, Chance the Rapper and Frank Ocean signing on to the trend, it seems as though this might be a new feature of modern music consumption that - for better or worse - might be here to stay. So we assembled a group of editors and contributors interested in the subject to dissect the issue in our latest Heavy Chat. The conversation ended up running long, but we think you'll find we covered a lot of ground and - hopefully - you'll learn a bit more about the way your music consumption is likely morphing right in front of your eyes.
To try to describe the sheer amount of music available to people today would be bordering on redundancy. It’s just way too much in terms of content—too much for any one person to ever digest in their lifetime. And that’s a bit of a double-edged sword, as there is a lot of really great music out there, just begging you to listen to it. Streaming tools like Spotify and Soundcloud make this music incredibly available. But, as powerful and laden with tunes as those programs are, there isn’t much in the way of actually exploring it.
I don’t think that I’d be out of my bounds when I say that most metal fans explore their genre. When you like a sound, you want to follow it as much as you can. Additionally, you can crave different sounds, and explore new things that the music world has to offer. That’s the beauty of music—you’re able to create an amalgam of things you like. In a way, you piece together your own auditory universe. And today, it’s easier than ever to explore music. The advent of the Information Age has created, catered to, and revolutionized our tastes in more ways than we realize, and with streaming services like Spotify and music-oriented websites like RateYourMusic, discovering new bands and songs has never been more convenient. I, for one, love that this is true; Spotify has been crucial in my exploration in music, to the point that it’s my go-to for all new tunes I want to try out. But I have my doubts that this sort of freedom—or, rather, ease to explore—will last.
Tidal may have stirred up significant controversy last year, but critics of streaming platforms have been vocalizing their dissent since Spotify first launched just under a decade ago. The discourse surrounding streaming platforms is essentially identical to the Napster debacle of the nineties, albeit with a fresh cast of vexed musicians, an upgrade in technology and a blurrier definition of fair compensation. What the issue boils down to is this: music producers and consumers are still grappling over what the exact value of music should be in a perpetually advancing digital age. And while streaming services attempted to solve this issue, it succeeded more at complicating things further and creating a new element of the debate. In order to illuminate a highly divisive issue, our latest Deep Dive will discuss the history of streaming platforms, evidence for and against them and their utility within music consumption.
Protest The Hero want to cut out labels for good using Bandcamp’s new subscription service. But is it enough?
Since the closing of the Scurrilous tour cycle, it seems that Protest the Hero have reached an important decision: they are through with the middleman – by middleman, I of course mean the record label — and, af... Read More...