Spotify, Pandora and how streaming music kills jazz and classical

“All of my colleagues — composers and arrangers — are seeing huge cuts in their earnings,” says Paul Chihara, a veteran composer who until recently headed UCLA’s film-music program. “In effect, we’re not getting royalties. It’s almost amusing some of the royalty checks I get.” One of the last checks he got was for $29. “And it bounced.”

Scott Timberg writes about how the recent rise of streaming services like Spotify, Rdio or Pandora affects royalties in the world of niche music. It’s sad, but not unexpected. However, at least in Europe a jazz/classical music enthusiast observes a growing number of websites that sell uncompressed audio files from small labels. There’s the German Highresaudio and the Norwegian Gubemusic, and both these services have a pretty big catalogue (at least compared to the American HDTracks).1 They are also both targeting the narrow group of listeners, and their catalogues contain mostly jazz and classical music. Which brings us to the second quote from the article:

Here’s a good place to start: Say you’re looking for a bedrock recording, the Beethoven Piano Concertos, with titan Maurizio Pollini on piano. Who is the “artist” for this one? Is it the Berlin Philharmonic, or Claudio Abbado, who conducts them? Is it Pollini? Or is it Beethoven himself? If you can see the entire record jacket, you can see who the recording includes. Otherwise, you could find yourself guessing.

My question is: why hasn’t anyone figured this out yet? It’s an at-least-decent business idea, and there’s a consumer group that can be easily targeted. Jazz fans complain about Spotify’s lack of content all the time. They also tend to be affluent (or pose as such, or are willing to spend more money on music), so you can charge them more. And they’re often suffering from audiophiliac illness.

Create an elite, expensive streaming service for jazz and classical lovers. Take our money!

  1. Yes, I know high-res downloads make no sense. I don’t care. I only care that it’s lossless and that they have albums others don’t. 

Moto G 4G and Android from an iPhone 4 user’s perspective

Some time ago I realized that my 2010 iPhone 4 is no longer usable, at least not in any pleasant manner. While initially I thought iOS 7 is to blame, I quickly discovered that the OS itself wasn’t the problem, but the bigger memory footprint of many apps that wanted to take advantage of what iOS 7 offered was.1 Daily use of a 4-year-old iPhone became too frustrating, so I started considering options. Also, the screen was cracked and I’ve no idea how, where or when I cracked it.

First, of course, was the 5s, Apple’s latest and greatest. It is, according to some, the best smartphone you can buy today, and from what I saw in the stores, it’s a remarkable piece of engineering indeed. Still, the basic, 16GB 5s costs 5790 NOK here in Norway, so I figured perhaps it’d be wise to consider other options.2 There was the 5c, which is basically iPhone 5’s hardware for 4490 NOK, and there was the 4s for a ridiculous 3290 NOK, both of which I dismissed as too expensive as well. So then there was Android.

The Internet says one should buy Nexus. It’s pure Android, straight from Google, it’s fast and it’s relatively cheap (2689 NOK – cheaper than the iPhone 4s!), but it’s also quite big. I held it in my hand and it felt uncomfortably large (what’s with all these huge smartphones?). So then the next great thing was, the Internet said, Moto G and Moto E, Google’s cheap phones. Both models run close-to-stock Android, and both are kept up-to-date with latest version of the OS.3

At first I was tempted by Moto E. Since an Android phone was supposed to be just an experiment, I could simply buy the cheapest option. But then again Moto G was not significantly more expensive, and reviews claimed it had superior display and camera, so I went for the updated G, with 8 GB of internal memory (microSD expandable) and 4G antenna. Here are my impressions of the handset and Android. Continue reading “Moto G 4G and Android from an iPhone 4 user’s perspective”

Jazz icon Charlie Haden dies at 76

I am very sad to read that Charlie Haden died last Friday.1 He was one of the first jazz musicians I ever heard about, when my dad bought the now legendary “Beyond the Missouri Sky” (Verve 1997) record, and I immediately fell in love with his great bass lines and compositions. Then I learned about Charlie Haden’s history with Ornette, and I also realized he played with Keith Jarrett’s quartet in the 70s. A versatile, curious musician who always enriched any jazz album he appeared on with his lyrical bass lines. His death is a terrible loss. Seems sadly prophetic that his latest duo album with Jarrett is titled “Last Dance” (ECM 2014).

Below are a couple of my favorite tracks by Charlie Haden or with him as a sideman. Listen and admire.

Continue reading “Jazz icon Charlie Haden dies at 76”