High time the big names took plunge into the le­gal stream

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

WITH THE UK’S We7, the Swe­den’s Spo­tify and Ire­land’s own Eir­com Mu­sichub, there is no ex­cuse (not that one should ever ex­ist) to il­le­gally down­load mu­sic. The above ser­vices vary in qual­ity and price struc­tures – some peo­ple love them, some spend their time find­ing fault with them. But the le­gal stream­ing sites are the only long-term, wa­ter­tight and work­able so­lu­tion to the de­struc­tion of the mu­sic in­dus­try. Un­til a crit­i­cal mass mi­grates to them, there’s re­ally no point in crit­i­cis­ing them.

Ever since Nap­ster’s Shawn Fan­ning pressed the “de­struct” but­ton on the mu­sic in­dus­try in 1999, it’s been a shame­ful scene of self-serv­ing record com­pany ex­ec­u­tives, pub­lish­ing com­pa­nies and rights own­ers squab­bling among them­selves and fid­dling while Rome burned down around them. Crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion was never go­ing to work, and most now agree it’s lit­tle bet­ter than a finger in the dyke.

To make things a bit more in­ter­est­ing in the le­gal stream­ing world, a shiny new op­er­a­tion called Deezer be­came avail­able in Ire­land ear­lier this month, and very im­pres­sive look­ing it is too. If you haven’t heard about it or got­ten your­self a free trial (see deezer.com) it’s be­cause stream­ing ser­vices don’t have me­dia “heat” and none of the big rock stars will go out to do the shill for them – even though these ser­vices are help­ing en­sure their eco­nomic fu­ture.

Deezer is based in France. Ac­cord­ing to its UK man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Mark Foster, the stream­ing ser­vice ac­tu­ally did the im­pos­si­ble in that coun­try this year by re­vers­ing the slide of over­all mu­si­cal sales in the coun­try.

I could give you all the facts and fig­ures about Deezer, but since it’s of­fer­ing a gen­er­ous free trial to Ir­ish users you should go on and have a look your­self. And if you haven’t yet in­ves­ti­gated Eir­com Mu­sichub, Spo­tify (which plans to re-launch in Ire­land soon) and We7, you should check them out as well and de­cide which one suits you best.

We’ve cov­ered the other ser­vices in the past, so to give Deezer its fair crack: what the site boasts is an amped-up editorial slant that Foster says dis­tin­guishes it from their com­peti­tors.

“We’re not just about of­fer­ing mu­sic fans ac­cess to mu­sic on the de­vice of their choos­ing,” he says. “We also ac­tively en­cour­age the dis­cov­ery of new mu­sic. We’re bring­ing the emo­tion back into dis­cov­er­ing new mu­sic, from main­stream pop to avant garde.”

Deezer’s head of editorial, James Fo­ley (from Co Water­ford) says the aim of the ser­vice is to be a cross be­tween a dig­i­tal mu­sic mag­a­zine and a record shop where you can lis­ten to your favourites. As we speak, Fo­ley is busy beef­ing up the “Ir­ish” tab on the ser­vice.

It’s easy to get around Deezer be­cause it’s browser-based and you don’t have to fid­dle around down­load­ing pro­grammes. The cost is ¤4.99 a month for un­lim­ited stream­ing on any PC/MAC with no ads and ¤9.99 un­lim­ited stream­ing on PC/MAC and all hand­held de­vices with no ads.

Yes, mu­si­cians are al­ways com­plain­ing that they get paid next to noth­ing from hav­ing their mu­sic on stream­ing ser­vices, but these are early days. These ser­vices will grow – if the big names draw at­ten­tion to them and sup­ply them with exclusive con­tent, etc. It was a stab in the back when Cold­play with­held their new al­bum from Spo­tify. (Fair trade my arse, Chris.)

As long as in­flu­en­tial bands such as Cold­play and The Black Keys shun the le­gal stream­ing ser­vices, ap­par­ently in or­der to get a high chart plac­ing for their al­bums, then we’re back to square one. So over to you, mu­si­cians – you moan just as much about il­le­gal down­load­ing as you do about the le­gal stream­ing ser­vices. At least Deeezer, Spo­tify, We7 and Eir­com are do­ing some­thing about the in­dus­try’s fu­ture. What’s your ex­cuse?

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