Assorted Declarations from Editor Tom Graham
I listen to Spotify from time to time, mainly to revisit an old record that has been lost in a move or an old cassette that my car stereo decided to eat at the end of a long road trip. Spotify is great for listening to an artist’s back catalogues. I find it also great for discovering new music. Unfortunately, the new bands don’t really make enough money from its royalty pay outs to make ends meet, as it is such a small fraction per play.
So why the hell did Taylor Swift decide it was time to pull her entire catalogue from the music service earlier this month? Let’s look a little closer …
Taylor Swift claims: “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”
Dave Grohl, the new self-appointed spokesman for “big rock,” countered: “You want people to (bleeping) listen to your music? Give them your music. And then go play a show. They like hearing your music? They’ll go see a show. To me it’s that simple, and I think it used to work that way. When we were young and in really noisy, crappy punk rock bands there was no career opportunity and we loved doing it and people loved (bleeping) watching it and the delivery was completely face to face and personal. That’s what got people really excited about (bleep). Nowadays there’s so much focus on technology that it doesn’t really matter.”
Easy to say if you’re in the hottest rock and roll band in the world (Foo Fighters) and the former drummer of one of history’s most recognized anti-establishment bands (Nirvana).
That brings us to Billy Bragg, who scoffed at Ms. Swift’s move as “nothing more than a corporate power play.”
“She should just be honest with her fans and say ‘sorry, but Sergey Brin gave me a huge amount of money to be the headline name on the marquee for the launch of YouTube Music Key and so I’ve sold my soul to Google. If Ms. Swift was truly concerned about perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free, she should be removing her material from YouTube, not cosying up to it. The de facto biggest streaming service in the world, with all the content available free, YouTube is the greatest threat to any commercially based streaming service.”
The enemy of my enemy is my … I’m still confused.
All of this back in forth between musicians not only brought back images of local artists going at each other’s throats time after time (which still happens today), but forced me to dig up some legendary musician-to-musician bashing.
David Lee Roth on Elvis Costello
“Music journalists like Elvis Costello because music journalists look like Elvis Costello.”
Kurt Cobain on Guns N’ Roses
“They’re really talentless people, and they write crap music, and they’re the most popular rock band on the earth right now. I can’t believe it.”
Noel Gallagher on Jack White
“He looks like Zorro on doughnuts.”
Robert Smith on Morrissey
“If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I’ll eat meat — that’s how much I hate Morrissey.”
Anton Newcombe (Brian Johnstown Massacre) on Eric Clapton
“People talk about Eric Clapton. What has he ever done except throw his baby off a (bleeping) ledge and write a song about it?”
Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: Damien Rice My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Vector Recordings/Warner Bros.) 2014