If the record is ready, put the damn thing out now

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

WHEN IT COMES TO dif­fer­ences be­tween the old mu­sic in­dus­try and the new mu­sic in­dus­try, there’s one line that says a lot. It pops up ev­ery so of­ten and it al­ways puts a smile on my face.

This week, it was the turn of Ferdy Unger-hamil­ton, the big ka­hoona at Poly­dor Records, to spin it. Speak­ing about his best-sell­ing act Lana Del Rey, Unger-hamil­ton said she has “thee CDS’ worth of songs with loads of bril­liant tracks. Enough for us to do the al­bum and a deluxe edi­tion and still have stuff left for later records.”

It’s a line that was pre­vi­ously used by U2 in the wake of neg­a­tive re­ac­tion to the ap­palling No Line On the Hori­zon al­bum. Here’s Bono in Au­gust 2010: “We have Songs of As­cent, which is the med­i­ta­tive work. We’ve got a rock al­bum. We also have a club-sound­ing al­bum.” Eigh­teen months on, we’re still wait­ing for any of these mas­ter­pieces to ap­pear.

Word to the su­per­stars: there are these things called Sound­cloud and Band­camp where you can get those al­bums out right now to your fans.

If the mu­sic is any good, it will go be­yond your ded­i­cated fan­base. If the mu­sic is re­ally, re­ally good, you’ll get hits. As sim­ple as.

But that’s not how the record in­dus­try rolls. It’s about main­tain­ing con­trol, rolling out pro­mo­tional cam­paigns and 18-month sched­ules. It’s a way of work­ing that has no rhyme or rea­son in 2012, a time when fans want new mu­sic from their favourite acts now. If the record is ready, put the damn thing out now.

It will also mean an end to hav­ing your care­fully chore­ographed cam­paign scup­pered by a record go­ing rogue and leak­ing six months early.

‘We have a med­i­ta­tive al­bum; we have a rock al­bum; we have a club-sound­ing al­bum’

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