What are you listening to? People ask us all the time, but being in constant search for something new, we’re arguably too involved to step back and actually enjoy an old favourite. We’re not claiming to have done any actual research, but we’ve got a feeling that despite the plethora of musical options provided by the multitude of available streaming services, that people are still sinking back into old habits, and playing the same few songs/albums on repeat.
Streaming revenues are on the rise, in as much as there actually were some for the first time last year, yet how much of that is filtering down to new bands and smaller labels? Darius Van Arman, the co-owner of the Secretly group, whose artists include Bon Iver, Angel Olsen and The War on Drugs, suggested to The Guardian recently that while streaming revenue has so far seen some small growth for the label, he has worries that it will shift the money away from experimental music, “I think it’s probably inevitable that the market is going to invest more in music that is accessible and caters to repeat listening”. Worryingly for fans of more experimental music he has even suggested it may see a shift in terms of smaller labels output, noting, “we have to be realistic and have another foot in the world where we are working with artists to make recordings that people want to listen to over and over again.”
All of this will lead to an inevitable compromise, at what price will labels be able to support creative freedom and the cohesive album format, at the risk of not producing a hit single? It’s not all doom and gloom though, the good people of Bandcamp have announced a mammoth increase in profits, and have noticed the problem, “when the distribution of an entire art form is controlled by just two or three nation-state-sized companies, artists and labels will have even less leverage than they do now to set fair rates, the music promoted to fans will be controlled by a small handful of gatekeepers, and more and more artists will be hit with the one-two punch of lower rates and less exposure. The net effect for music as a whole is worrisome.”. Bandcamp recognises the need for a service that rewards not just repeat listens, but one that gives people a fair price for the music they sell. In our eyes, somewhere between the old-fashioned ownership based music industry model, and the modern rental services, there is a compromise that works for everyone which must be met. Without one, new music won’t flourish, and the worrying trend towards retrophilia and nostalgia might be all we have left – a future for music that is surely not even worth considering.
One upcoming artist who deserves your support is today’s guest mixer, Griff Lynch. You may know Griff as a member of North-Wales’ psych-pop band Yr Ods, but he’s now making solo records under his own name, and is set to release his new single, Don’t Count On Me, next week via the excellent Welsh label, I KA CHING.
Don’t Count On Me is the follow up to his debut single, Hir Oes Dy Wen (Long Live Your Smile), and is Griff’s first foray into singing in English. Don’t Count On Me, which features a subtle, possible accidental nod to the break down in Sum 41’s Fat Lip, is a shimmering slice of 80’s inspired synth-pop. Its euphoric exterior is contrasted by the crushing lyrical content, “don’t count on me, to love you when you’re down, to wipe away your frown, don’t cry for me, I wouldn’t cry for you, if I had feelings too”. The finest moment comes towards the end, as the synths fade to a bouncy Euros Child-like piano refrain, before the soaring synths cut through to an outro surely destined for massed, tear-soaked, sing-alongs.
Griff is making the sort of experimental, dark-pop music that has put Wales on the musical map, and while there’s no details just yet, he’s working on what promises to be a exciting and intriguing debut album.
Today Griff has been kind enough to provide us a mixtape of some of the music’s that’s currently floating his boat from Frank Ocean to The Lemon Twigs, and Welsh Electronic House to Swedish Psych-Prog – check out the tape below.
1.The Lemon Twigs – I Wanna Prove To You
Been obsessed with this song for a while. It’s a Time Warp.
Welsh Electronic House Music. Featuring Ivonia, the first Welsh language computerised voice. Well cool.
Groovy bass lines and delicious synths that will send you dancing your socks off.
Swedish psych prog rock. One of my favourite bands, and on one of my favourite labels, Mexican Summer.
David R Edwards is the Welsh Mark E Smith, and a true legend of Welsh anti-pop. I’ve been listening non stop to this late 80s modern classic, because I’m writing an article about the lyrics. The chorus goes “Living in Wales, is like watching the grass grow, and the paint dry…”
Love this album, and Dave Wrench the wizard who mixed the track is a true gent whom I’ve worked with a lot (before he blew up and mixed the XX, Blossoms Caribou, Frank Ocean, Goldfrapp and so on obvs…!).
Great Welsh indie band, and he’s also my brother… so you know, brotherly love and all that!
Ikaching is a great label that hosts some of the biggest Welsh language bands. This is off a great compilation they released to celebrate 5 years of existence.
Another brilliant song by artists off the label Mexican Summer.
New single. I love her stuff, it brings DIY music to the next level. Can’t wait for an album.
Those of you who use Spotify can hear Griff’s mix in a handy playlist – just click HERE. Griff’s new single, Don’t Count On Me, is out February 10th via I KA CHING.