To stream or not to stream?

Like many who blog I am on Twitter and because I write about jazz music I follow those who produce the music I write about, listen to or go to see play live. Recently, the jazz guitarist Nigel Price posted the following on his Twitter feed:

I sold a CD online today. That brought in more revenue than a year’s worth of Spotify streams. @Spotify is killing revenue for musicians. The industry has never been in more trouble than it is now. If you love music, buy direct from the musicians you love.

Nigel Price‏ @Nigethejazzer Jan 29

As you might imagine this helped generate an interesting thread resulting in Crispin Hunt, Chairman of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers & Authors, asking Nigel to get in touch.

Is streaming good for music?

Most of those who replied to Nigel’s original post support his view, as do I, but also recognize that streaming services do give the artist the opportunity to reach a wider audience than otherwise might be possible.

I do use Spotify but only to check out music before I purchase. I have discovered artists, bands and record labels that I otherwise would not have done and so in that respect Spotify has done me, and the artist whose music I buy, a favour. Unfortunately, not everyone appears to understand what the longer term effects of relying on streaming services might be:

Replying to @Nigethejazzer

I don’t think many people would sympathise with that point of view. People want to listen to the music they like; they’re not interested in financially supporting those musicians. I can listen to all the music I like for free on the internet; I’m not going to donate to musicians.

Hassan Tawfiq‏ @HTawfiq1 Jan 29

When musicians are unable to make a living from their music they will stop playing. Streaming only works for a small percentage of those artists who are currently in the public eye but for the rest, the percentage payed out in royalties is so low that to call it “income” is stretching the definition of the word to its absolute limit.

No doubt this topic will continue to run for some time and will, occasionally, resurface in another Twitter thread for people to air their views. The thread that sparked the writing of this post has reached its end but there were signs that a compromise could be reached. Inevitably the end user will have to pay, and rightly so, in order that those outside the current music mainstream can continue to live and produce music.

My bigger concern in all of this is how, in the future, music will be distributed:

The industry needs to change and it shouldn’t be up to the consumer to pay more for an archaic product. CDs are redundant …

CazzaBlanka5

Perhaps that is a topic for a different post.

Why shouldn’t jazz be fun?

Back in the days when Jazz Journal used to be available in print I read an article in the July Profiles section about singer Beverley Beirne. This was the first time I had come across Beverley’s name but what really caught my attention was the quote printed at the head of the profile:

“When I first decided to do this, Cum On Feel The Noize just had to be on there. I’d been performing it in a Christmas show at Matt & Fred’s and it went down stormingly well”

For those of you not familiar with “Cum On Feel The Noize”, it was a single the rock & pop band Slade released in February 1973 as their first single of the year. The song gave the band their fourth number one in the UK, it was also their first single to enter number one in its first week.

As a Slade fan, back in the day before I had discovered jazz music, I was intrigued to hear how this song would sound in a jazz setting. I headed over to Spotify, where I listen to all potential CD purchases before committing to paying out hard cash, to listen to the album Jazz Just Wants To Have Fun. I listened to two tracks and pressed the buy button for a physical copy of the music.

The album was released in June 2018 and was well received, and rightly so. The songs chosen are all well known pop songs that graced the UK charts:

1. Cum On Feel The Noize (3.29) 2. Prince Charming (2.40) 3. Bette Davis Eyes (4.09) 4. Ghost Town (3.30) 5. Deeply Dippy (3.11), 6. When Smokey Sings (6.58) 7. Cruel Summer (3.04) 8. Pop Muzik (4.50). 9. Too Shy (2.39) 10. Hot In The City (2.58) 11. Waiting For A Girl Like You (4.56) 12. Girls Just Want To Have Fun (2.29).

But it was what Beverley Beirne and pianist Sam Watts have done with the arrangements that make this album work. The songs swing and Beverley sings and treats them with the same reverence she would to the works of Gershwin or Porter. Of course the addition of Producer Jason Miles has done nothing to diminish the overall effect of the sound and, in fact, Beverley credits him with “hear[ing] an extra element to a song [to] lift it to a different level.”

Jazz Just Wants To Have Fun is a good jazz album; it is a good fun jazz album that deserves to be heard.

The album review by Jazz in Europe can be found here: https://jazzineurope.mfmmedia.nl/2018/06/cd-review-beverley-beirne-jazz-just-wants-to-have-fun/

An interview with Beverley Beirne can also be found at the Jazz in Europe site: https://jazzineurope.mfmmedia.nl/2018/05/beverley-beirne-jazz-just-wants-to-have-fun-interview-by-george-cole/