Sweaty Spice, the other Spice Girl

I have a long history with music, having inherited a Heathkit HiFi system back in the 1970’s. The first album I can remember buying was Brain Salad Surgery by ELP. The first of many.

I have followed (or led) the transitions from LP to CD to Digital to Streaming. My personal music collection (all ripped from CD’s I own, or digital files I bought) runs to 17GB.

But today, I mostly listen to music via streaming services. And I know that the one thing that has destroyed the payout to artists in the modern era is that pathetic split of revenues that actually filter their way to the artists.

Musicians have been at the short end of transactions since the beginning of the recorded music era, between labels, agents, and contracts, they keep getting screwed. And Streaming is the latest screw-age.

I make it a mission to support my favorite artists. I have some eclectic tastes, being somewhat of a guitar player, I have an ear for avant garde instrumental or guitar based music, and those artists make a pittance from their work. Sure touring brings in cash, and some other channels. But the rise of streaming has been a killer.

Direct Support

I follow many of my faves on social media, and when they are in the studio, working on a new project, they will often do some crowdsourcing. Patreon, and others provide means of funding them directly. And I do. I usually go above the “recommended” donation to get a CD, or an LP (hint: I always choose the LP, it usually comes with digital downloads, and I still mostly stream, but I like vinyl)

I have supported several projects this way from Alexandra Zerner, to Devin Townshend, and even the latest project by Al DiMeola.

It is a shame that the old business model was so exploitative of artists, but at least it funded the recording, production, and promotion of the music. Streaming doesn’t generate the revenue to support this.

Indirect support

Even though I listen to 99+% of my music via streaming (and I PAY for my streaming. No ad supported modes) I go out of my way to buy LP/CD/Digital files from my favorite artists, and some that are not my favorites. It is how I ended up with pretty much the entire discography of Tangerine Dream. Or most of the Van Halen albums.

One artist that has interested me lately is the Mammoth project from Wolffgang Van Halen (son of the guitar god Eddie!) that is cranking out some kickin’ tunes. First album to be released in mid June, 2021, so I headed over to preorder it in Vinyl. Because I want to support him (and the music is good).

While I do not buy at the rate I was in my late teens when I would drive to my favorite used music store in Santa Cruz to crawl the bins, or the weekly trips to Tower Records in Campbell (where I first heard Yngwie Malmsteen playing on a Steeler LP on the sound system), I still probably expand my collection by 20ish albums a year.

I also buy more than a few albums via Bandcamp.

Support the artists

While I can’t force anyone else to open their wallet, I hope you do. The music business is tough, and their business models are warped. The streaming era makes is über easy to have literally millions of tracks at your fingertips, this convenience comes at a price, and that price is the degradation of the income streams for the artists who create this wonderful music.

Open your wallet and buy albums, even if you don’t plan on playing them very often. That is the best way to support your idols.

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