Monday, September 1, 2014

de nube

Alex Ross weighs in on getting your music from the Cloud.

I had this conversation at the concert the other day, picking up an Andy May CD, which I was doing because these things are much harder to come by than they used to be, and you have to seize the opportunities where you find them. The album is Happy Hours (Fellside 224), you can download it from iTunes where it's filed under Singer/Songwriter, even though there's only one song on the album and Andy May himself neither sings it nor wrote it.

You can download it from Amazon, where at least it's filed under the largely meaningless but not un- useful catchall of Folk. You can also buy the CD from them, for $22 direct or via third parties new (starting at $11) or used (starting at $20).

You'll find it on Spotify for free. You have to sort through the albums of another guy with the same name, but okay. Once you find it, all the tracks are there in order. (And track order does matter if you're listening to more than one track.)

I'm not going to get all wistful and blather on about the good old days when you could and did spend several  hours browsing bins and shelves in record stores, and one or two of those stores might even have had a section dedicated not just to bagpipes, but to Northumbrian smallpipes. But if you click on the Related Artists button on Spotify, you end up in a pretty big ballpark of vaguely related celtic-y folk records, which might be a highland pipe rock band or a solo singer of muckle sangs or an Irish fiddler from Brooklyn or a band from Belfast. Never mind that the Actually Related Artists are all up on Spotify, too: Jez Lowe, Kathryn Tickell, High Level Ranters, Cut and Dry...

So okay, basically you end up in the old shop circa 1998. Only if it was run by people who had no idea what anything was.

So much for efficiency. Spotify should probably read the liner notes. Or at least look at a map.


  1. ... dashes off to Spotify (verb?)
    Charmingly Andy still refers to CDs as records.

    1. lol I guess I'm glad I'm not in the record biz anymore, because competition from Amazon was bad enough... There is a lot of good stuff up there, though. I played Happy Hours all the way through, then part of the first Craobh Rua album, which I never picked up and hadn't heard in over a decade, and which is probably out of print in dead dinosaur media by now. Still I wonder what fraction of a cent anyone got paid.

      I confess to still calling them records, too. It's at least technically accurate and rolls off the tongue better.

  2. "Album" I suppose is the nearest thing to a format neutral term for the object in question.

    1. Well, yeah, "record" in the Superannuated Lazy Persons' taxonomy is an abbreviation of "record album". If you want to go by NARAS (the Grammy people) taxonomy, a record is one track and a record album is the collection of tracks in one release, no matter what the format.