doing my bit for imro, or not

16/07/2009

okay, so I should say it first. I don’t illegally download music. not because I think it’s wrong (which to some extent it is, but in my humble opinion it’s no different to listening to the radio) but because listening to music is one of the few vices I have and, having the money to do it, i want to do it properly. Finding new music is endlessly exciting to me and I’d like the artist to get something back, even if it is something derisory (i know the record companies get the lion’s share of the money but, fuck it, something derisory is better than nothing), and get the statistic of one (more) sale. My motives for not illegally downloading may be naïve but they’re my motives so fuck you.

Which brings me to my point. You’d think that IMRO would love me to death. i want to pay for my music, i buy all hardcopies and i loyally follow some artists wherever they go. Here comes the catch. I haven’t bought, and don’t intend to buy, music in Ireland for quite some time. I also haven’t bought music by an Irish artist in about 5 years (and even that was a self-released electro album which was kinda crappy anyway). I try to do both these things. I go into record shops; the chains and the indies; I go into records shops and they don’t have anything I want and what they do have is usually twice the price as it can be found on amazon. And amazon have what I want; if not amazon then I can get it direct from the label at an even cheaper price.

So, you see, I am doing as much to hurt the Irish record industry as the average teen downloader. More so, really, considering I don’t go to Oxegen or Britney in the O2. Actually, come to think of it, the last gig I was – stadium, arena or pub – at was Adam Green in the Sugar Club, and that was some time ago. So, as someone who occasionally completes the odd song or two (and has no intention of ever charging for anything should anyone ever feel like paying), should I feel guilty for my lack of support of the scene in Ireland? I do, to some extent, but there’s so little that excites me out there now that overall I couldn’t give a flying cunt about the scene, run mostly by dickheads and morons.

The dearth of new music is so profound, yes I’m the wrong side of 30 but I – honestly – don’t think it’s me: I listen to much more music than any of the kids I teach; more and louder and noisier and much more hardcore (kenny rogers “dance” mixes were all the rage in 07/08, which was really fucking depressing. I lost interest after that). I’ve listened – and still occasionally do – to breakcore (fun but i’ve yet to be totally engaged), I am still trying to find the dubstep that seals that genre for me though I think it’s best experienced live so I may never get to: Wicklow ain’t much of a hotbed for new and exciting electronica (apart from spudcore, that is, thanks shel). I’m not even going to justify Irish guitar music with any more than this (apart from Adebisi Shank who are worth it for the name alone).

So, point being…

I buy shitloads of music. Not as much as some people I know but definitely above average. Right now i’ve got 13 cds in various stages of postage but only three of them are 21st century cds. I try to be interested in what the kids like (La Roux, Florence and the Machine: I have enough prince albums already, thank you. And they’re all by prince, which is the point.) but it’s shit. And I don’t think it’s me getting old, I just think it’s insipid, dull crap.

Get on with it…

I’m buying the music my parents were into. Not because it’s amazing (which it is) and hopefully not because i’m getting old (which I am), but because it’s the only music that I haven’t explored that seems vital. There’s so much more life to any album track off “John Wesley Harding” than any of the “stand out” tracks on any of the new vaguely hip guitar/electro stuff coming out of Britain. Again, is this my fault in that I’m getting old? Or is it the fault of unimaginative A&R men or bottom-lining record executives looking for their next bonus or record company policies demanding all their acts have instant success or be dropped.

I’ve been reduced to finding something interesting in Talking Heads and dub for christ’s sakes! Talking Heads! Their third album is much better than their first two. Three Talking Heads albums! I really liked “Road to Nowhere” when I saw it on “Music Television USA” on RTE 2 back in the day (along with Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and Van Halen’s “Jump”) but that’s pretty much the only thought I’ve given to them since then. I own two dub boxsets and some of the supposedly important albums. It’s good stuff but it’s dub for fuck’s sake. At least I don’t listen to The Arcade Fire.

It really grinds my balls when I hear some self-satisfied record exec or IMRO staffee giving out about illegal downloading killing the industry when it’s blatantly obvious to anyone paying attention that it’s the industry has been committing a long slow hari kari since the dawn of the CD. The lack of artistry and the squeezing of the round peg of art into the square hole of profit has destroyed what the industry once was (“Hip hop records aren’t maximised as product, let alone as art” The Roots).

It was always an industry, and always will be. The difference being that now (and for some time now) that there is no leeway in forsaking this year’s profits for next year’s windfall. It’s all about year end, year-on-year. There are still many interesting record labels doing great things. It’s hard to find them, harder still to find the great music on them, but it’s there. What’s important is that they’re mostly living outside of the major labels in structure and attitude. They’re doing it to make money, but they know that they’ll make money if the music is real rather than if the music is “now” or, as what William Burroughs calls, “cool”.

Basically, next time you hear someone decrying the death of the music industry, think about someone like me: Buying loads of music; trying to invest time into new artists; willing and open to experimentation; failing to be excited or interested by 99% of anything that he hears on radio or teevee; and, based on IMRO’s criteria, doing just as much damage to the Irish music industry as the most cynical downloader.

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2 Responses to “doing my bit for imro, or not”

  1. Unkie Dave said

    I remember reading an interview with a former editor of NME who said her musical taste got locked in when she hit 34, and she was unable to take any interest in anything new after that, so quit her job. I found something similar, though for a while two years ago when I was doing a good few corporate gigs I would occasionally listen to MTV to see what all the kids were going crazy for, but I tired of that pretty quickly.

    Commercial music never has had any interest for me, and although I still subscribe to eMusic I find that most of the stuff I am downloading from there is either stuff from folks I already know (new releases/stuff I never got in the first place), or like you it is stuff from the 60’s and 70’s that I never would have listed to in my youth, dismissing it as old people’s music without actually bothering to listen to it on its own merits.

    The thing about being in your 30s is that you are no longer distracted magpie-like by the sparklyness of the current fad in music. You’ve lived through punk, goth, new wave of new wave, acid techno, brit pop, indie rock, drum n’base, garage, grime, dub step and back to goth again (though of course its emo now, cause goth is what your parents listen to). Trends come and go and in the end its all just music, each to be enjoyed on its own merits and often times sounding much better years later removed from the noise of its surroundings.

    • beard said

      i think my problem is that i listen to almost everything, so why isn’t anything new exciting me. oh, and that imro are cunts.

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