The streaming era of music production

I am more of an album listening guy, since childhood, I always liked to get my hands on a full length album and listen to it for days, months, years even. I like to get into the storytelling of the artist, and like to compare how different they end up being in following albums. The mood of each album differs (a common example would be the difference between Radiohead’s In Rainbows vs Pablo Honey) and seeing how the sound changes in line with the artist’s evolution is what makes music so mysterious and interesting to me.

Nowadays, with Spotify, Apple Music and lots of other streaming platforms, I have been seeing a “single” oriented mentality with almost every artist, which is saddening. I get excited to check the “New Music Radar” playlist every Friday, only to see some mediocre singles released. I have started to think that the scene is almost reminiscent of Instagram. The more you are visible, the more of an artist you are deemed to be. The more you post new stuff, the more unforgettable you might become.

Of course, this is not to ignore the positive aspects of streaming platforms or how the artists become engaged with them. Keeping all your favorite tunes in one place, for a minimum fee, is irreplacable. But I can’t help to think of the negative affects it might have on music. Have you noticed that it is really rare to see songs more than 3 or 4 minutes? And I am not talking about EDM artists, or those generic electronic musicians you hear in Youtube videos. A large number of artists tend to keep their production short in duration, which makes them follow easy templates, thus making their songs predictable and ordinary.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you think that it’s just a phase or the industry will continue to get shaped in line with the global trends?

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I think it will continue to be “refined” in the same way that social media is, personally I don’t use any music streaming services and never will until they pay artists fairly. But that aside I have zero interest in what is popular, so I’m probably not their target market anyway.

In a sense it is no different to mainstream radio, big bucks get the plays, and just occasionally a no name will ‘break through” only to be either absorbed by the machine or forgotten tomorrow.

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With Daren on this one. I solely use Bandcamp due to the music I listen to as its in abundance there. There are a couple of tracks I listen to via YouTube because the rest of the album isn’t for me.

Popular music will never go away but it’s manufactured to be popular, big corp labels paying the radio to push this track or artist (my theory at least). Even if there is a breakthrough artist it’s only a matter of time until they are told what music to make because it’s what the listener wants not what the artist is happy to make. God I hate popularism.

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Previous discussion:

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I really enjoy listening to albums, and never were a big fan of playlists. It must have something to do with the fact I was a teen in the 90’s, and at this this time you had to commit to an album even before you buy and listen to it.
I’d say , let’s ignore trends. The music I make ( nothing yet released ) is usually 5 to 8 minutes long. I even find it’s a challenge for me to make something under 3 minutes.

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With machines, music is almost moreso something one curates, or in some senses grows. You sort of sculpt a direction of pattern and timbre, into a direction you find agreeable. This is very different from learning a musical instrument like a trumpet or drum kit or guitar, which can take years to master before you get any good sounds out of it. A box you simply turn the power on becomes more about the way you shape it, and mix it in with other things, than it necessarily does about virtuosity - although that can definitely still be part of it.

So my feeling is we live in a sort of musical ‘demoscene’ these days. People are just sort of showing off capabilities, and doing that daily. Almost like a sound journal, rather than sort of disconnecting from everything and working on the big full length release away from public eyes or what have you.

There definitely are kids who make full length records, millions of them in fact. Just because we’re older doesn’t make it irrelevant, we’re basically our parents now who used to talk about Led Zeppelin or the Beatles or whatever.

Kids today would probably find Radiohead woefully irrelevant. Don’t forget we were 15 or whatever when Radiohead came out, today’s teenagers have the exact same thing and we just don’t have our fingers on that pulse (although I know many music heads who do).

When you’re young, you don’t think about this. When I was young vinyl seemed mad old and tapes and cd’s seemed like where it was at. Vinyl will always have an allure I think, but I don’t think kids today have the same disdain for streaming and infinite scroll and soundbytes as the older generation do, they’re in sync with it and they just get on with it and push that envelope.

If anything I think it will push further toward a sharpened version of streaming and scrolling than we’ve ever known, rather than somehow reversing and going backwards to a slower more meatier release style or something.

In the end people can make music in whatever platform and format they choose, but what lingers as the actual critical mass or current trend of what is ‘essential’ or important, I’d look to what 15 year old music heads are into and ask them.

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…the single…is now the focus track…
…the album…is now the playlist…
…linernotes in the digital age…are now only takin’ place in social media accounts…
…84% of ALL music is now “consumed” “enjoyed” “played” via a streaminfarm of ur choice…
…ten bux a month description fee to access all music out there, whenever where ever…
is THE deal of these times…
…fun fact…never ever there was sooo much money in overall music biz…
while never ever the question, where is that all gone?, was that sustainable…
u can’t fight tomorrow…progress takes place, with or without u…
while the user centrified pay model is on it’s way…

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As a form, the album is my preferred musical experience. I don’t get on well with playlists. I never cared much for the music on the radio so I suppose I never got into the habit of letting others pick my music. I grew up with cassettes. More specifically a Walkman with auto-reverse. I enjoy digging in and spending a while in a mood, an experience, with an artist. With the weird music I tend to gravitate to it seems the creators prefer a longer form of expression as well. As an overarching music trend, sure I mourn the loss of the album being the preferred format for musical expression but there are many more impactful things in the world to be mourning right now.

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Regarding the albums versus songs debate… I don’t think it’s any different now than it ever was. To take the Radiohead example above, at the same time you had Timmy Mallet in the charts - I don’t recall Timmy ever releasing a double-gatefold concept LP but I may have missed it.

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Quit Spotify then! Go old school, find an artist you like and check the same label for other gems, let them know you still want albums by buying them. For full disclosure, I hate Spotify with a passion:

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My favorite thing was digging up Pitchfork (back when it was not hipster) and some under the radar blogs, go to Soulseek to get their entire collection, and follow their label for discovering similar artists. It has been becoming increasingly difficult to do that nowadays, when everything is algorithm driven, and underground artists even becoming mainstream in their own sense. I guess I am missing the old times.

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Same. I totally miss the ‘good old days’ of buying albums, reading all the sleeve notes and listening many times over from start to finish because I’d invested my pocket money getting something new. But I guess my point is if we’re not willing to support artists with direct sales and use Spotify playlists and whatnot, then it stands to reason that Spotify and the artists using it (with all the metrics of what ‘works’ and what doesn’t) will only give us throwaway singles from here on out – albums were popular because people bought them in huge numbers and preferred them in many ways. In short, be the change you wish to see in the world.

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…bandcamp remains the best and last record store of the planet…
…while harvesting ur sonic thing via a streamingfarm remains handled with most possible old school music lover care at, yes, it’s sweden, with 12 points again…on spotify.

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45s are singles and were the primary release vessel way back then and albums were mostly collections of singles. Autoplay turntables were made to play a stack of singles. It’s all cycles.

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I know nothing about anything. But fuck songs shorter than 5 minutes long. :man_shrugging:

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And how many words in a poem? How many paragraphs in a book?

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spotify is a garbage company run by garbage people.

their first priority is to the customers… not musicians. paying musicians fairly is an after thought… an inconvenience for them and they will never do what’s right for musicians… they’ll only perpetuate a race to the bottom.

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There are rules already established for those formats. I do not know them. But there are. What is your point?

When we ran the family record store back in the early 80’s which was all vinyl and tape we we saying music is finished when the ‘NOW thats what i call Music’ albums kept going to no.1. I think nothings changed. Its been in decline for 40 years.

The point is the opposite: there are no rules, only preferences. You can open or close your mind as much as you’d like.

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