I like lots of things. I like chorizo, for instance. And my iPad (but not with my iPad).
I also like, it appears, Twitter.
Now, this is a peculiar thing considering I swore myself off Twitter at the start of the year and took a two month break (I intended to leave completely). But then I rejoined, mainly to connect again with people who’s opinions, jokes and repartee I had missed. Since then I have regained much of the enthusiasm for the medium I had upon joining a few years ago.
I like, for example, that I can tweet stupid comments, old Tommy Cooper jokes and have in-depth (albeit, truncated 140 character) conversations about music and culture. Elements of my interests and instinctive behaviour which normally make the people around me raise their eyes in exasperation. On Twitter it is acceptable, nay, encouraged and shared.
Anyway, this evening saw an interesting little conversation with Ash Cooke (the musician Pulco, formerly of Derrero. Known as @pulcoman on Twitter) and fellow independent songwriter Ian Thistlethwaite, spurred on by this blog post. All good stuff. I won’t repeat it here. But anyway, it confirmed to me why I use Twitter…… it’s not just a promotional tool….it’s a forum…..and a pub. It’s also a place where spammers run up to you and shout in your face; but I just punch them.
In relation to the post mentioned above: my interpretation is that it’s saying that the internet has not really democratized music, as many (including myself) claim. The post implies, through many statistics and comparisons to the ‘old’ music industry, that the internet has stifled musicians’ career opportunities due to over-saturation. It claims, probably rightly, that the internet has allowed everyone to release their ‘product’ independently and thus, because of this deluge, there’s less money available to support the sale of more ‘successful’ artists’ music. The overall gist of the article is that this has been damaging and that the shiny, bright new way…ie. the internet….isn’t the shiny, bright thing we thought it was. The strap-line being “Artists For An Ethical Internet”; but the tone of the article is more like “Artists For An Exclusive Internet”.
The other thing that one can glean from this article is that there is an assumption made by the author that ‘success’ means sales. I’ve been here before in another post. But, this assumption does tend to correlate with the traditional, established “music industry” view. Is it that important that a musician makes a career/livelihood from their art? How many painters do the same? Not many. In fact, statistically fewer I guess, than musicians. What the article doesn’t really acknowledge is that ‘success’, for many independent musicians, means just ‘getting heard’. The article’s statistics do not relate to free downloads, just sales. Nor does it make any mention of Bandcamp.com, or artists’ websites where listeners can buy/download music. The statistics didn’t cover these. In fact, the article statistics relate to the larger corporate merchants (surely, the new major ‘labels’) and affiliate sites, such as Tunecore who supply to the giants: iTunes, Amazon, Napster, etc. It misses the point.
To me, independent music is not about sales, or corporate connections. It’s about integrity, choice and direct connection. Everyone, in any walk of life, at some point often has to make the choice between a decent living and independence/self-determinism. Musicians are no different. Nor are we special (although, sometimes, the music is). To paraphrase Ian Thistlethwaite during our Twitter conversation: “some of my favourite musicians have ‘day-jobs'”.