follow me from perth to moscow (or, in defence of the internet, again)
three days ago i was hanging out on soundcloud when a new song appeared, just then uploaded by a perth singer who i follow called mei saraswati. she’d tagged it as a “kitchen jam”, and had (i assume from reading her notes) just recorded it into her laptop mic in her kitchen. it was a fragment of a vocal, a few harmonies, hastily arranged, immediate, real.
instantly i liked it, downloaded it, cut it into pieces and started building a song around it. i got my guitar out. it became this kind of contemplative experimental folktronica piece. a day later, i uploaded what i’d made back onto soundcloud. people liked it. more importantly, mei liked it. we’d never met and i didn’t ask her permission to use her voice – so it was a relief when she said she loved it.
curious about why i had been compelled to go into such laidback sonic territory, i got thinking about my favourite ambient/zone-out type records. this led me to making a playlist, which soon enough turned into a mix. then i remembered tatyana, a blogger from moscow who had been asking me to put together a mix for a russian music website, follow me radio. i thought this mix might be perfect. i sent it off. that was yesterday. today its online, to be heard by 100s of russian music fans.
i can’t wait to tell mei that her song is in this mix, on this website. we don’t know each other. i will tell her about it probably by sending her a link to this blog post, by commenting on one of her soundcloud songs.
every now and then i get pointed towards columns and articles where various people vent their spleens about the damage that they think file sharing is doing to the music business, and to music itself – most recently this one on the wire, and this one on mess+noise. when i read stuff like this, all i really hear is “i don’t like what The Internet has Done to Music”.
what i’m also trying to say is – i like what the internet has done to music. i LOVE what the internet has done to music. this story shows you how embedded the internet is in every stage of the process now for me as someone who makes and distributes music. it provides the inspiration, the means of collaboration, the means of distribution. it has enabled my musical education, providing me with access to the myriad histories of music, through vast catalogues of streams & downloads, not to mention its enabled me to learn how to use my tools better, with endless online tutorials, advice, production ideas. it even provides the platform upon which we can build really smart discourses about music, and about its distribution and its production. i honestly can’t imagine what it was like to be involved with music before the internet happened and i don’t care to. i can’t make music without the internet. if there’s hiccups along the way as paradigms shift, old businesses and structures fail and new ones alternately flounder and prosper – so be it, the internet has opened so many doors for me and my music that arguing over the finer details of business models sometimes seems so irrelevant. how to sell shiny discs to people who don’t know any better?… seems so distant from my actual experience of music.