Two artists that can always be counted on to say something interesting recently held forth on tech, the internet and the art and business of music in separate interviews. Steve Albini takes a strong and surprisingly positive stance with little room for discussion. Damon Albarn reveals more ambivalence about tech and its effects on our lives. Both provide interesting takes on a world in which musicians have even more to sort out than ever.
Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots
Tech and the Internet
Steve Albini turns out to be stoked about the internet:
"The single best thing that has happened in my lifetime in music, after punk rock, is being able to share music, globally for free...That's such an incredible development."
"You can literally have a worldwide audience for your music….with no corporate participation, which is tremendous."
Damon Albarn expressed mixed feelings about the effects of technology, a topic he considers in the recent release "Everyday Robots."
"The title song was one of the earliest I worked on, and I guess the concept for the full album formed around it as I began working on other songs. The concept came out of me thinking about whether technology has brought us closer to ourselves or further away from ourselves."
But the question remains open:
"I'm not decided. I do know that I feel a lot of ambivalence about it, and that I think there are things we need to seriously think about with regard to how much we rely on technology."
Albarn does have some clearly positive thoughts about music discovery via the internet:
"I like the fact that people can discover some strange musical tremor happening in a small corner of the world and get excited about it and share it with everyone they know."
However Albini's not so impressed by those that rely on Spotify and Pandora for discovery:
""I think they are extremely convenient for people who aren't genuine music fans, who don't want to do any legwork in finding bands."
Streaming Music and Social Networks
Albini caught me by surprise with his positive take on streaming music compensation:
"When a song is played one million times on Spotify, it can still have an audience of one person who plays it a lot. When it is played one million times on terrestrial radio, the audience is orders of magnitude bigger...I actually think the compensation is not as preposterous as anyone else."
Albarn's take on his avoidance of social media wasn't so surprising:
"There's a lot of value in all of that stuff for someone, just not for me [laughs]. All I know is I seem to manage perfectly well without all of it... just don't need another thing to deal with. And on top of it, I have the best team in the world working with me to handle the social media—they do an amazing job of making me look good."
Art and Business
Damon Albarn gets more into the art side of things at Wired:
"These days, one of the biggest challenges is to make what I do not look too DIY, but also not lose any of the spontaneity that comes with being DIY. Because DIY these days is so different from when I was a kid...A certain aesthetic emerged from DIY because the people working in it had limited resources and they made the best of them. And obviously, these days, you can make a short film on your computer that looks absolutely amazing."
While Steve Albini has a lot more to share about business at Quartz:
"On balance, the things that have happened because of the internet have been tremendously good for bands and audiences, but really bad for businesses that are not part of that network, the people who are siphoning money out. I don't give a fuck about those people."
[Thumbnail image: Cover of Miaow's When It All Comes Down including King Creole (Cath Carroll and Steve Albini).]
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.