Speakers Push Air

Anti-Social Media
October 15, 2012, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Narc, Tech | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

(OR: my first Narc opinion piece)

“What I don’t like is a pop star doing a diary thing for their fans on the internet. The worst one for me – I cut it out of this magazine, it was amazing – was a tweet by Lily Allen, and it said: “Just had a lovely iced bun and a cup of tea”. That sums it all up for me. Who gives a fuck> Why would you put that on a thing? Who cares? There’s so many things going on about that one line, to me, it’s like everything that’s wrong”. – Lawrence, Go Kart Mozart

You can’t throw a stick without hitting an article about the effevt of the internet on our music consumption: it’s too instant, albums are over, singles are dead, ringtones are the future, kids today don’t know they’re born, yadda yadda yadda.

So this isn’t one of those. This, instead, is about the increasing transparency of the process, the daily Twitter-led insights into where that music actually comes from.

When I was young and Phil Lynott and Freddie Mercury ruled my world (I know, I know… ), albums just… appeared. One day they weren’t there, the next they were and it was such a heady rush coming across them. As I got older, and started to encounter the music press and John Peel and all that other stuff, I might have got an inkling something was up a couple of months ahead – hints in an interview, the announcement of a new tour (which in those days always seemed to accompany a new release) – and your excitement levels would amplify as the details got more definite and the release date hove into view. I think things started going wrong when the lead times on singles got out of hand. They’d be all over the radio months before you could buy them, and you’d be sick of them before they hit the racks.

But now? Sheesh. These days it’s all photos from the recording studio, pre-release previews of album tracks (in exchange for your email address, obviously), online beef with your collaborators (okay, so that’s mostly Wayne Coyne), Kickstarter projects, photos of someone’s wife’s breasts (okay, so that’s ONLY Wayne Coyne), invites for suggestions for album titles, lyrics, money. (and remember, if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product). By the time a new album comes out I already know everything about it – fuck, I might even be sick of it. I guess this is exacerbated by my quasi-music hack status, as I get stuff early and get press releases even earlier.

I can see the good side of all this transparency – the lowering of the barrier between the artist and their audience, a little glimpse behind the curtain. But perhaps that comes at the cost of… well, excitement, dammit. There’s less and less magic left, less mystery and enigma. The apotheosis of all this is Amanda (Fucking) Palmer, who has moved from someone with a notable twitter following to an artist who raised a million dollars to fund her new album through Kickstarter, using all sorts of bonuses, teases, photos of her naked with the amount raised written on her body, all that jazz. And for an artist like her, someone who is all about ‘we are the media’ and art happenings and late night online concerts for her insomniac fans, it’s all good. It works and it fits. But while her tweets might be inspirational, inspiring or liberating, what about that landfill indie band telling us how excited they are about their new single, or the aforementioned Lily Allen tweet that upset Lawrence so much.

I’m not sure there’s much that can be done about this – the studio cat is out of the bag and we’re doomed to years of Instagram shots of Olly Murs dicking around on the studio piano. Our musicians are now expected to be ‘on’ 24/7, for good or ill. But it makes me uncomfortable. Hold tight for the next Kurt Cobain, tweeting his suicide note. Or the next Mama Cass adding a picture of her delicious sandwich to her tumblr feed (okay, I know that’s an urban myth but you get my drft). And remember, for every Amanda Palmer helping you be a part of the never ending art project that is her life, there’s a dozen Lily Allens with a dozen fucking iced buns.

thanks as ever to Narc for permission to reprint this, which I’ve revised very slightly to make more sense

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