29 January 2013

Tuesday Tune: Fisherman's Friends - Drop of Nelson's Blood

13 January 2013

Total Eclipse of the Chart?

The singles chart has just reached the age of 60. When Al Martino topped the first chart with “Here In My Heart” in 1952, the hits of the day were played on the BBC Light Programme, Radio 1 not coming into existence until 1967, and the NME was getting off the ground as the Accordion Times and Musical Express. Due to the limited amount of recorded music by today’s standards, record sales for each release were much higher than they are today and it was not uncommon for songs to stay at the top of the chart for several weeks – in 1954, there were only 11 chart-toppers for the whole year; in 2011 there were 29.
In 2013 we have more ways to find music than ever before. You can access most of the world’s recorded music without even leaving the house, whether it’s a German classical recording or a mix on Soundcloud by a Japanese DJ. Chances are you’ve been sent a song by a friend on Facebook, or checked out a new band on YouTube…
At the same time it’s never been easier for artists to get their work out to the masses. Mylo recorded his 2004 album Destroy Rock & Roll in his bedroom, without ever needing to go into a recording studio. Arctic Monkeys discovered the power of the internet in spreading music when fans at their gigs knew all the words to songs which hadn’t been “officially” released. The shift from a large number of people listening to a small selection of music to the opposite situation has been identified as the “long tail” effect, as popularised by writer Chris Anderson in 2004.
All of this means that there’s more music available to hear than ever before, but listeners are as likely to use YouTube or Spotify to play a song as to buy a CD or pay for a download. The chart includes physical and download sales, but doesn’t count the new music methods, so it is becoming less representative of the music people are listening to. There is a broader shift from owning to “renting” cultural material, reflected in the rise of services such as Lovefilm and Spotify, and the decline of entertainment retailers (HMV is struggling on, Woolworths and Zavvi are long gone). After 60 years, it could also be time for sales charts to enter retirement.

Originally published at HI! Magazine.

6 January 2013

Say HI! (again)

The fantastic HI! Magazine relaunched on New Year's Day with some new sections (plenty on food) as well as the music, film and other bits from the first time round. They are looking for new contributors/editors, so get in touch if you think you have something to offer or want to get some writing experience.