The NME prides itself on being some kind of cultural barometer, and to survive it has to cater to the mainstream yadda yadda yadda, im sick of people whining about the NME. that's what it's there for.
and then i read this and it made me more angry than any half assed reviews of half assed bands more popular than my own. Which i guess is a some kind of old school NME achievement, if the sentiment didn't piss over all those guys graves.
anyway, i wanted to write a clear cut concise piece on why this guy is utterly wrong and a terrible human being, and i just ended up shouting at the screen. so, sentence by squalid sentence, here is why i disagree with dickface. apologies to rob from topless robot, but, if you squint, it kinda looks like FFF.
If physical singles are finally dying out for good, then don’t expect me to send any flowers to the funeral. I don’t care about Record Store Day. I don’t even care if I never own a physical CD or vinyl record ever again.really? you write for the biggest music magazine in the country and in yr opening paragraph you write off actually physically owning music. Fair enough if you don't like record store day, it really is just a niche for people who are interested in ltd run 7"s and exclusive music stuff. Wait, what's yr job again? This is the first sign of subtext that runs all the way thru this piece that reads - hey bands, go fuck yourself -
I got rid of 90 per cent of my CD-based record collection last year, leaving behind only the records I’d paid for before becoming a music hack. I don't miss them.
Honestly, that's probably a shit tonne of shit records you dumped there. It's a shame you didn't find, in your music journalist career, any music you wanted to keep, but i guess that's why yr a critic, huh. It's interesting to note you kept the records you actually paid for tho. As if you had some emotional investment in them. HMMMMM.
And here’s why: if you’re seriously bothered about the way your tunes are delivered to you, you’re focusing on totally the wrong aspect of what makes music great
glitter vinyl and skateboard stickers? What makes music great is melody, harmony, dynamics and rhythm. what makes bands great is everything else: style, lyrics, artwork, packaging, delivery. Seriously, all these things have been contributing factors in the modern music scene since the 40s. Wait, whats yr job again?
Let’s get a few things out of the way first: the death of the physical single won’t kill B-sides. Aren’t digital EPs and free pre-album taster downloads their modern equivalent?
this is the first counter argument he brings up... Wait tho, has anyone, ever, ever in the history of this thunderous digital music revolution, complained about the potential loss of the B-side? No. Of course not. There were several other ways for bands to disseminate "bside" songs in the pre internet age; import albums with extra tracks, fanclub only stuff, exclusive session cds on magazines. Pretty much all of these have modern day equivalents such as digital EPs and free p.. wait, PHEW!
If artwork is worth seeing, you’ll see it, even if it’s not on the cover of a CD or vinyl record.
WHERE? WHY? HOW CAN YOU BE SURE? will there be websites set up? will bands have to link songs to art gallery pages? this is such bullshit. There are hundreds of artists out there, whose work you've seen and loved, but you don't know their names. Record art is such a massive part of the industry, it has whole books and websites and archives devoted to it. Are you proposing that bands will be content to operate on pure songs alone, or be allowed to at least make a .gif banner or two? Them hipster girls would look way less cool if, instead of wearing a shirt with those sinister wave patterns, it was a picture of 4 drunk 80s manc kids. What you propose isn't artwork, it's advertising.
Next: you don’t need to own music to enjoy it
Noone ever thought you did. BUT you need to pay for music so the people who make it can keep doing so. you kinda forgot about that bit. it's important. For your job too, if you think about it..
I don’t sniff records.
Is this really what you think of people who like physical product? Like, we're trainspotters lining up on record store day to note barcode numbers. Are you basing this on people who populate the country, or characters you remember from high fidelity?
Buying a CD or 7” doesn’t make me like a tune any more than if I’d hear it streamed on a blog –
No-one in the history of having a brain has ever said that it did. People didn't buy singles because they thought it would improve them, they brought them to play when they wanted to. Also, and despite lack of mass sales like The Shit Old Days this still happens (sometimes this was because of hype and bs pereptuated by your magazine, and sometime because of genuine punka spirit) people brought records because they feel an affinity with the band. Singles, specifically, still are a totems, brought for what they represent, not the music encoded inside, which everyone will have on their ipod anyway. You don't understand any of this do you?
great music is great music however you hear it.
no its fucking not. this is such a stupid layman phrase, its like your parents telling you morrisons classic cola is the exactly the same as coke. mp3s don't sound as good as wavs. some records sound way warmer on vinyl than cd. most laptop speakers are rubbish compared to a proper stereo. songs recorded in studios sound better than on your phone at gigs. The relative values and merits of these will always be open for debate, but the basic principles are simple facts.
If you’re going to release something physically, make it spectacular, an event, something worth owning – an idea Radiohead have clearly come round to with newspaper release of ‘The King Of Limbs’.
NO WAY WHAT RADIOHEAD RELEASED A NEWSPAPER! BUT THEY@RE A BAND NOT A PRINTING PRESS. MENTALOS! fuck, thats an incredible idea. as if nobody thought of that before, ever, in the history of music. We could start a whole culture around this shit, lets call them FANZINES. I don't mean to sully radiohead but bands have been doing this for fucking years. Weirdly enough, it started as a reaction against things like NME filling pages with guff.
I find this point weirdly divergent from the rest of your arguement tho. So, it's ok to release singles as long as they're, like, more than singles? Something worth owning? Trust a journalist to say everything must be spectacular. anyway, how about like, a nice 7" glittery vinyl? A frisbee? A watch? Pottery? fanzine subscription? sticker set? elaborate fancy card packaging? THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. sorry, what was your job again? You write a whole piece trying to destroy records, rubbishing any level of artistic respect, then say, PRAISE RADIOHEAD, the only way out is, O WAIT ITS ALREADY HAPPENED NEVERMIND.
Do I miss going to record shops? Nope. The faceless high street stores I could tolerate, but local independents? In my experience, the stereotype is usually true: they’re staffed by socially-inadequate, sniffy twerps. Just ask Day V Lately:
what exactly is your experience? cos it sure as fuck isn't banquet, or rough trade, or polar bear. again, i think you have mistaken "experience" with "i have read high fidelity". I'm going to take the liberty of assuming, because you are a mainstream media cretin, that you live in LDN, which has more awesome record stores than anywhere else in the country. For sure there are still remnants, the music exchange that nick hornby wrote about, but the last few years have seen whole communities built around thriving indie stores. also, hot girls work there too. sorry, what was your job again? more to the point, why?
this is followed by an embedded commercial for yell.com, in which an imaginary 90s dj (Day V Lately) goes into a thinly disguised record and tape exchange and asks if his records are stocked. The staff, whilst in no way resemble the caricatures previously described, are unable to find his records, and all is saved when his daughter shows him the Yell.com iphone app. I don't know what this proves other than he couldn't find the belle and sebastian high fidelity scene and caption it - LIKE THIS, LOL!
If I was teenager today with meagre wages to blow, I wouldn’t buy CDs (like I did with my minimum wage spoils ten years ago) or waste my weekends in record shops. I’d download Spotify, keep my ear to the blogosphere and spend my dough on tickets to gigs and festivals.
HELLO THE TEENS, LET ME IDENTIFY WITH YOU HERE. If I was a teenager today, i'd buy my way thru the alcopop/bsm/smalltownamerica/toughlove/moshimoshi/audioantihero ETC back cat. I'd subscribe to Heat Rash and instead of buying the NME i'd read blogs without feeling the need to use some pretentious terminology, listen to music streams to form my own opinion, and spend my dough on online merch stores and all the weird little trinkets and mementos my favourite bands release. and i'd hold onto to these cheap tacky material possessions as proof absolute that these bands mean more to me than yours do to you.
Also, once again with the record shops. if you wasted the weekend, either you went to the wrong record shop, or you are so devoid of empathy for the culture and awesome bands and records that fill such places that you didn't know what to look for. ALL THOSE DIFFERENT COLOUR SLEEVES, MAN THATS SO CONFUSING!!!
I might even have some spare cash for a better guitar, amp or synth. Is it a total coincidence that guitar sales have increased in recent years?
Wait! Yes! Guitar sales have increased have increased because of Guitar Hero. They've increased because the general guitars vs synths mood of the mainstream music press is currently more guitary. They've increased because of cheaper manufacture, of better marketing from fender and gibson, easy online tutorials and fairer secondhand trading. Mostly tho, guitar hero. If fish were banned tomorrow, would you quit your life and go become a fisherman or just eat something else? People are not saving money on singles and spending it on guitars. digital literal single sales are increasing. Have you heard of Itunes? You should check it out, it'll BLOW YOUR MIND.
Of course, there’s the eternal conundrum of how you make this modern music consumption model profitable – and Spotify’s disastrous margins suggest that no one’s even close to finding it yet.
Way to shit on your teenage self and his subscription there. Anyway, lets carry on and pretend there's no itunes, why not have a website that you can sell your music on directly! Or have little boutique labels that can put love and care into awesome physical releases! Or, um, just radiohead up a newspaper? Once again, THIS IS ALREADY HAPPENING. Whilst profit is (radiohead get benefit of doubt) in no way the principle motivation of those who run these methods, it's a definite factor in why they're still here, and they're taking up an increasing share of the collective music industries and music - buying kidzz concious, cos, frankly, most of "your" bands are really fucking dull.
But, ultimately, the reason physical singles are being phased out by Mercury – and others will follow soon, if they haven’t already started – is that few people are actually buying them.
O wait, when you say others, you mean majors right? Cos, honestly, thats all you guys care about. Ain't no-one from our label ever going to pay for you to come on tour with us, bro. I hate to break it to you, but it's not just singles, its physical media all over. desperate times. these labels, you want to ask what their contingency plans are for the next few years. D.O.O.M.E.D.
I can sit on my comfy high horse and say this, because we're pretty separate from your world. 1) we've always been broke 2) we don't do this for the money, we do it cos we're proud of to be a part of this tradition, of peoples lives, and we want to leave loads of little mementos, sonic or otherwise, so people will know we were a cool gang to hang out with. Bands, man, they're just... like that. wait, what was your job again?
Bands regularly turn in pathetic physical sales figures, numbers in the low hundreds that would've seemed unthinkable in the days of million-selling Number Ones
I could so easily go on here about how our band regularly turns in low hundreds. and we're fucking proud of it. and we've been around long enough to know that sales figures, once upon a time and effective way to gauge a bands success, have had their machinery wrecked and pillaged by the interwebs.
I could instead preach polemic about how awesome music and awesome sales are only vaguely related to each other. drunk cousins.
but it'd pointless. you have completely missed the point of why bands are bands. of why records are records. you write like everything should be neatly encoded and stored into yr research node. I bet it would be in a file labeled "work". Bands, any band worth their salts, will always want to break out of that, to mean more to people than some melody in a recently added playlist.
Physical singles are a dead horse
"Or a spectacular newspaper. And that concludes the information i have gleaned from the 2 press releases i have skimmed today."
The less time and effort is spent on flogging them, the more money labels might have to blow on signing new bands.
Yep, thas clearly how that's working out innit. Can't move in LDN these days for new bands signed to major labels. s'like britpop2.0! You know what the next logical step here is? to eliminate the bands! labels simply buy the songs, hum them into itunes, and everyone has more money. eurgh. i hate this idea. imagine being in a band, singing to a major label, and being told you'd literally only produce music. no physical records, no memento, just some watermarked files. You wanted artwork? Have a thumbnail. Is this just me? OR ME AND EVERY OTHER MUSICAL ARTIST WORTH ANYTHING EVER..
– the ones formed by kids buying guitars, clothes and drugs rather than records.
MESSAGE TO RECORD LABELS: stop signing up bands based on long late night wistful conversations about mutual favourite records. In fact, stop signing bands who go out and buy records cos they're all living in the past. instead, go for the guys who've brought guitars, clothes, and drugs. HUZZAH the industry is saved.
The article concludes with an embedded video of the view. I can't be arsed.
from all of us here, fuck you bro. We're always going to buy records. It's part of us. Here's a short awesome story:
for valentines day, my girlfriend brought me the pavements trigger cut 12".
you think that's shit right? how can you even call that a story? at the same time, there's people going to read this who'll be like, WOW RAD. Cos they understand the innate value of bands is worth more than a bunch of noises, and these records, however small the run, or low the sales, mean a whole lot more than what they contain. They're time capsules, love notes, postcards, polaroids, and, arranged together in shoeboxes in my room, in vague order of when i brought them, they're a way more fun and vivid box of memories. Even if you take the artwork and the gimmicks away, you can't replace that tactile sense of personal history with a series of files. Unless you have NO SOUL.
We must seem so pathetic to you, pointless even. our cottage industries. our cheap gimmicks. our low hundreds. wall of hugs. new slang. heat rash. yr. cats in paris making cartoons, stagecoachs' christmas cards, eva tomassis arts and crafts, alcopop/bsms samplers, everyone's hand made sleeves. All these people working themselves to the bone, mostly happily, for shit wages and condescending journalism, because they're doing what they believe to be right, and they can see the fire in the eyes of those low hundreds that lets them know it's truly appreciated
That's whats missing from your godawful shite journalism. There's no sense of artistic value, of bands being capable of producing anything more than playlist filler, of indie labels and stores being anything more than unnecessary outmoded middlemen between you and music you seem to think you deserve.
Whatever. Late night rant. seriously doubt you'll ever read this, much less take any of it in. I don't believe in karma but i do know that me and mine, the bands, the labels, the stores, all the little guys that help out that you'd never know about, have brought 100000000x more happiness into the world than you ever will.