Monday, September 13, 2010

Music service ... or disservice?

I subscribe to several music services, including Napster and eMusic, for accessing music for my listening enjoyment, for work and for teaching. All of these sites offer their helpful "picks" or recommendations, but there's a huge difference between the recommendations made by the sites.
Compare Napster's top picks to eMusic's:
Lyla by Avishai Cohen
The Architect of Modern Bossa Nova (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
The Best of Dizzy Gillespie
Ultimate Big Band Collection: Glenn Miller
Body and Soul, by Louis Armstrong

Pathways, by the Dave Holland Octet
Kind of Blue, by you know who
Lush Life, by John Coltrane
Half the Perfect Word, by Madeleine Peyroux

This a list of really great and important work done half-a-century ago ... and three new releases. Making Kind of Blue
one of your picks on these sights is analagous to "phoning it in": you've obviously not heard anything new so you're falling back for the obvious.

In fairness, both sites are pushing Esperanza Spalding on the eve of her new release, which is great. Scroll down a little bit to find my opinions of Ms. Spalding.

But as wonderful as she is, she is but one of hundreds of hugely talented people recording and touring today. Most of whom are getting the short end of the stick because record companies -- and their apparent proxies, the music services -- are beholden to their back catalogs of classic recordings.

If jazz is in trouble, it's because these companies have decided the marketplace only has the capacity to grow by one or two new names each year (this year's additions are Michael Buble and Spalding). There's more money to be mined in what was recorded 50 years ago, so why bother?

It's got to be extremely difficult for musicians to get their names known and to build any kind of music sales -- it's not right to make them compete with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.

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