High time the big names took plunge into the legal stream
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?