ON­THERE­CORD

Can the mighty Ap­ple ma­chine re­ally per­suade us to start pay­ing for mu­sic again?

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

Is 2015 the year when the no­tion of get­ting your mu­sic for free bites the dust? That might be one take­away from a cur­rent read­ing of the runes, as record la­bels and stream­ing ser­vices flex their mus­cles.

For both sides, get­ting pun­ters to pay for mu­sic sub­scrip­tions rather than rely solely on ad-sup­ported ser­vices is the ideal end game. Yet there are still many in­side the tent on both sides who rightly cau­tion that such a pay-to-play pol­icy could well turn the clock back to the bad old days.

Con­sider the facts. Thanks to such legal stream­ing ser­vices as Sound­cloud, YouTube and Spo­tify, a size­able dent has been made in the piracy ship. A ma­jor­ity of pun­ters seem happy to put up with ads in re­turn for their mu­sic or even pay a rea­son­able monthly tar­iff to avoid those ads.

But there are many in the mu­sic in­dus­try who are still not at all happy hand­ing their mu­sic over to the likes of Spo­tify, who can then pull in cus­tomers to hear the mu­sic for free or cer­tainly less than cost in terms of the ad take. There are prob­a­bly shades of 1980s la­bel ex­ecs ob­ject­ing to giv­ing videos for free to MTV here, but nonethe­less, the ar­gu­ment does persist in some quar­ters.

En­ter Ap­ple. Just as it was Ap­ple who turned the record in­dus­try on its head with the iTunes store – or rather made the process be­hind pur­chas­ing down­loads as easy as buy­ing a flat white – their new stream­ing ser­vice will pro­vide timely com­pe­ti­tion for cur­rent mar­ket leader Spo­tify when it goes live later this year.

Early in­di­ca­tions are that Ap­ple won’t be pro­vid­ing any free lunches for users and this is just what the la­bels want to hear. With 800 mil­lion-plus iTunes ac­counts to call on, Ap­ple will be hop­ing that their hard-won rep­u­ta­tion, not to men­tion the in­put of such su­per­star cu­ra­to­rial hires as for­mer Beeb DJ Zane Lowe, will en­tice pun­ters to pony up from the get-go for the ser­vice. If that doesn’t work, they can al­ways threaten users with an­other U2 al­bum.

But this isn’t April 2003 ,when the iTunes store first de­buted and be­gan flog­ging dig­i­tal files. A whole gen­er­a­tion of mu­sic fans have grown up and grown used to get­ting their mu­sic for free via YouTube or wher­ever. Are they re­ally go­ing to flip and start pay­ing for Ap­ple or Spo­tify or even YouTube’s Mu­sic Key ser­vice?

Just be­cause the la­bels want a pay­ment model for ev­ery stream, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean this will hap­pen, as we know only too well from the past 15 years of cov­er­ing the sec­tor. In fact, the op­po­site is more likely.

The more record la­bel wiseguys de­mand shekels, the more push­back is likely from fans who’ve grown used to con­sum­ing mu­sic legally and for free. The la­bels and stream­ing ser­vices cur­ry­ing favour with them by telling them what they want to hear need to re­mem­ber that the bad old days of piracy and skull­dug­gery have not com­pletely gone away. They don’t re­ally want us to dust off and re­write those Pirate Bay sto­ries, do they? YOU’VE GOT TO HEAR THIS Gal Costa Gal Costa (Philips) A men­tion in an in­ter­view with Natalie Prass sent us back to this beau­ti­ful 1968 al­bum from the Brazil­ian singer. A record of rich, vi­brant, sweet and sunny sounds, it was Gal Costa get­ting her psych side on and min­gling the pop and bossa nova of old with the freestyle vibes and po­lit­i­cally charged heft of the in­com­ing tropicalia move­ment. ETC All roads lead to Leitrim for elec­tronic mu­sic fans at Easter with the re­turn of the Phase One fes­ti­val. The elec­tronic mu­sic event’s third out­ing will fea­ture Horse Meat Disco, Jape, Fish Go Deep, Sleep Thieves, Elaine Mai, Donal Di­neen, Nanu Nanu, Grounds for In­va­sion and many more. It’s at The Dock in Car­rick-On- Shan­non on April 4th and 5th. More in­for­ma­tion from phaseone­fes­ti­val.com

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