Signals From Mars – Change Or Lack There Of

Been reading online how Spotify has now added Podcasts and Videos in certain countries. Given my geographical location, the update has yet to be applied, but I am waiting to see how this may or may not affect what I do with the podcast. I have read all types of things regarding Spotify recently, from them doing away with their free service, to them being buried by iTunes radio, to people no longer purchasing music because of what they offer. I am weary about most of what I just mentioned, because I think in most cases you need to take the source into consideration. Is it someone that is part of the cult of Apple that is behind it? Spotify has conquered most of the world with their streaming services, but I’m not sold on what they offer like most other are. I receive ton of promos that are not on Spotify until an album is released. Try to discover new acts or songs to play on the podcast takes up a good chunk of my listening time, so the service doesn’t work for me from that aspect. I tried the pay service for a while, but discontinued because I could never use it away from home. No need to have a pay-player that can only be used from home. I have to factor in the fact that the part of Spain where I am located has third world amenities when it comes to the internet as a whole. Even still, if I’m at home, I usually just listen to music via iTunes, check out a podcast, a TV show or a movie. There are very few times where Spotify, Pandora, etc. start to play their picks, and get it right for me. I do understand that I have a strange taste in music, but their selections are usually hits, or some rubbish that I’ve heard a million times, and prefer not to listen on that occasion or ever. Also, with the free service, they throw in ads that have zero to do with the music I’ve been listening to. If I’m listening to Mastodon, or Angelus Apatrida, why on earth am I subjected to a commercial for the latest track by Pitbull or David Guetta? To me that is sloppy, lazy, and just disrespectful to users of your service to not have an algorithm in place that says “this guy won’t go for this crap, choose something closer to what they’ve listened to as a whole.” As far as people no longer buying CDs and using Spotify as an alternative, there are tons of albums, and artists that are not on Spotify. In my opinion this also leads to me to think it is not a viable option to use to listen to my current collection, or purchasing new music on iTunes, or Amazon. As I am writing this I have hit play on the album We Have Come For Your Parents by Amen, only to realize that the only other album on Spotify by Amen is their 1999 self-titled album. Again, how is this an alternative?

Recently Forbes published an article regarding how the labels had regained their stranglehold on the music industry by cutting deals with streaming services, YouTube and the like. Ok, let’s get things straight, one of the reasons why Napster, P2P, Torrents, etc. became so huge was because labels decided, “we’re no longer going to sell these albums”. Earlier this week I chose Millennium by the band Killing Joke as the Classic Video Of The Week. I was looking for the band’s 1994 release Pandemonium, which originally contained the Millennium, and much to my surprise found out that the album is nowhere to be found on the internet. No iTunes, no Amazon, no Spotify, etc. The album came out on the now defunct Zoo Records, but are you telling me that there is no market to make this album available even if it is only via a digital format? Makes no sense to me, you also have albums by Ace Frehley, Vinnie Vincent, Jake E. Lee’s post Ozzy band, Badlands, etc. that were all discontinued for years. Recently they have been re-released by smaller labels, but as limited runs. So as fans we’re expected to just forget about albums, and not try downloading it by any means necessary if it isn’t legally available? Does that help the downward trend in sales? Of course it does not, but the labels are 100% to blame for this. A label list Century Media has decided to do digital only releases with quite a few of their acts. This makes sense, very little overhead, they’re just throwing the albums on their existing servers, no need to print CDs, booklets, or any of the other accoutrements that usually need to be made to coincide with an album’s release. These digital releases are readily available throughout the world, with limited physical copies made available in a band’s home country or region. Why is it that others don’t follow suit? We are still a long way from seeing the absolute end to the music industry as we know it, but when it does finally all come to a head, the majority of the blame should go to the labels for forcing fans to download albums they refuse to make readily and legally available for sale.

The big labels have evolved into a two bit thug from any of your major network cop shows. One racket is up, and they’re just looking for another way to make a quick buck at others expense. In any other situation, they would be shut down, and forced to work fairly with their employees. Somehow the music industry has been exempt of any legal persecution when it comes to wrong doings versus artists. Sure the majors can go after a single mother for downloading nursery rhymes, but no one goes after them for how they make artists indentured servants. The sad part about it is the only way that this could truly go away is if artist unilaterally band together and combat label’s strangle hold on how things are run. But the industry is so fragmented, it is difficult to envision this taking place either. Now don’t get me wrong, not every label is “evil”. Metal counts on some great labels, which have gone from being small, to the saviors of the genre. Labels like Metal Blade, Century Media, Nuclear Blast, Napalm, Candlelight, Frontiers and a small hand full of others, have become the mainstays for the music we all love. Their business models have not changed all that much over the years, and they have allowed countless numbers of bands to flourish without the Billboard charts being the only thing the label is worried about. Things are changing, but until the three majors are gone, I wouldn’t start exactly think change has finally come to how things are handled within the industry. The game changes, mostly due to how buyers react, but the labels shift gears and find a new way to grab a hold of the market and squeeze what they can, while they can.