Streaming Music (Editorial)

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Prog art at its finest–Jim Trainer’s Winchester Diver for Big Big Train.

A great DJ is just a step below a great producer and sound engineer.

From time to time, I’ve considered joining a streaming service permanently.  I’ve toyed around with Spotify, Pandora, and iTUNES.

I just can’t understand the attraction.

There was a time in my life, I really loved radio.  From the years between late grade school and the end of high school (class of 1986), I listened faithfully to Wichita’s KICT-95.  The station introduced me–rather gloriously–to album rock radio, back when radio actually played entire sides of albums.  I got to know the DJs, the music, and their various programs.  I knew when to expect a full album side, and when to expect the latest news in the rock world.  I knew when T-95 broadcast concerts, and I knew when the radio station sponsored bands to play live in Wichita.  It was a golden age of rock.  I was always far more taken with prog than I was with acid or hard rock, but T-95 presented all as a rather cohesive whole, thanks to the quality of the DJs.

But, streaming?  I just don’t get it.  It’s bland.  It’s tapioca.  There’s no personality, no matter how great the music is.

I want good and solid commentary, and I want a human–not an algorithm–shaping what I listen to, choosing which song songs perfect before which song, and how to blend one incredible song into another.  A great DJ is just a step below a great producer and sound engineer.

Today, though, streaming came to my attention twice.  First, from an excellent student presentation (Matt Painter–who reviewed the 20th anniversary edition of Radiohead’s OK COMPUTER for us) on the shift in the music industry over the past 15 years and, then, Neal Morse’s contemplation of creating a streaming service.

Again, I don’t get it.  Maybe at age 50, I’m just too old to understand the attraction to streaming.  Previously, when I’ve argued that I love my cds and not downloads or stream, some wag always responds–“you know those are just computer files, right?”  Yes, I know.  But, along with the CD, there’s something else–an actual physical booklet with liner notes and lyrics.  And, art work.  Granted, the size of the individual pieces of art are smaller than they once were with full-sized vinyl albums, but, it’s art, nonetheless.  Look at the packaging of a Big Big Train or Ayreon (just to name two acts) CD.  They’re absolutely gorgeous, inviting, enticing, and TANGIBLE.  Who expects something to fall apart when it comes from KSCOPE, Mascot, or InsideOut?  Of course not!  These companies put the mainstream labels to shame.

Anyway, maybe I’m just cranky.  But, I have no plans anytime soon to purchase a membership in a streaming service.  Podcasts, radio shows, or special interviews and programs?  Absolutely.  But, not streaming–even if it’s prog and more prog.

7 thoughts on “Streaming Music (Editorial)

  1. Great topic to talk about Brad. Personally I think streaming is great for say the unknown artist or musicians who like to make their own music and use platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud to be able to get it heard. The latter of those two is perhaps better for that kind of thing because people can leave a comment on the piece of music they have just heard and it’s always great to get a bit of feedback to encourage you to keep on doing what you’re doing.

    There is a lot of talented musicians out there in this world and just because an artist gets signed up to a major record company and is more known does not by any means, mean that those mainstream artists are better musicians than those who are unheard of. Most mainstream artists where lucky to be in the right place at the right time to be noticed in the first place.

    So having a place where the unknown artist can go and upload his music to be able to be heard and get a bit of appreciation for it with a bit of feedback is a good thing in my eyes.

    Regarding mainstream artists using these type of streaming sites to upload their music too all for the sake of the digital download world. Personally I would not advise any mainstream artist to do so. They get practically get bugger all for doing so as well, and no way will they be able to prevent their family from starving by doing such a thing. It does nothing for their sales and most people these days will rather just listen to it for free than buy it.

    Regarding music media formats you will never beat a physical product. A physical product is something you can hold and cherish and be more proud of owning. Giving somebody a gift in the form of a Digital Download is a bit like giving them fresh air with no real substance. As a gift it’s never gonna say the same thing as a physical product in a million years. I am sure most people who receive a Digital Download as a gift, just tut, shrug their shoulders and say uh thanks :)))))).

    I myself used to listen to radio many moons ago these days I do not have the time for it and my radio station is my own record collection, where I can hear whatever I like in my own time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Michał

    Same here. I don’t think I will ever use streaming services. I don’t see the attraction in any digital collection – if there’s no physical copy, there’s nothing.

    And it’s not only about music. I love adventure games and ever since the industry came to rely on the Steam engine, much of the appeal is lost on me.

    It’s interesting, by the way, how the popularity of streaming services goes hand in hand with the popularity of vinyls. Which is quite understandable, a move towards one extreme results in counterbalance on the other end of the spectrum.

    As much as I am aware that embracing streaming would be a good move for my band popularity-wise, I cannot bring myself to doing something I don’t really ‘feel’. Because, at the end of the day, I just don’t LIKE streaming. I would like it to have never been invented 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I pay for a streaming service, and I use bluetooth to play music in my car, at home, and when I’m exercising. On top of that, I have instant access to almost music I want to listen to without having to buy a physical copy or download a file. I simply look it up and add it to my library, and I can pull it up whenever I want and listen. I have discovered countless new artists that way. I can build playlists, listen to entire albums, shuffle my library, shuffle music from particular genres (like prog), whatever I want to do.

    Sure, I still buy a few CDs, mainly to maintain a collection, but that’s rare.

    In the main, I don’t understand why anyone would want to be tied down to a physical product or a file they have to carry around on a device. Streaming is a lot more convenient, and I have my music with me whenever I want it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Michał

      “I don’t understand why anyone would want to be tied down to a physical product or a file they have to carry around on a device.”

      Good point, me neither, and yet, I would. Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing, but music seemed to matter more when it was not so easily available and obtainable.

      Anyway, my opinions on the topic are not rational so I can agree with you and stick to physical releases at the same time 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Streaming music sounds diabolical in my opinion. You are never gonna get any real good quality by streaming something over the internet no matter where it’s coming from. The way the internet works is that it’s signal will fluctuate all the time. Even on streaming sites like Spotify and Bandcamp the quality of the music will sound different from day to day. Sometimes it sounds bloody dreadful on them as well.

      OK I can get the point about having to carry a physical product around with them when mobile and not in the house,and that is a good thing. But as for listening to music with genuine real sound quality. No MP3 or streaming site is never gonna cut the mustard I am afraid and even as poor as an MP3 or MP4 sounds with it’s highest quality of 320 kbps. You are never gonna get even get that poor quality by streaming it.

      Sorry to say but if you want genuine real sound quality. The CD will win every time and so too will the HiFI and not the stuff one will find that produces the sound in their computers and in their mobile phones.

      The same goes for streaming films from streaming sites such as Netfilx. No way on this earth are you getting anywhere near HD from one of those places and no way are they capable of giving you the picture quality you will get with a Blu Ray. Honestly it’s not even worth bothering with (LOL) It’s just poor crap in my opinion.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I love my streaming music services for many of the reasons folks mention above. Also agree with the limitations and drawbacks of the format. I buy vinyl, attend concerts, and buy merch to support my favorite artists.

    I’ve been exposed to so many artists or deep tracks from artists I like that would have been completely off my radar if I stuck with a radio format or just recommendations from friends and blogs.

    My service of choice is Spotify, which also gives me the ability to find and follow playlists created by fellow music lovers and even create my own to share. I think it’s a great way to democratize the DJ.

    Top 5 favorite finds from Spotify: Witchcraft, Kadavar, Brad Mehldau Trio, The Ocean, Soen

    Liked by 1 person

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