"Attention span"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsThe average attention span of a goldfish (Carassius auratus) is nine seconds. We do not consider them as focused. However, the average attention span of a human being is eight seconds. This is surprising. We used to be more attentive. Our attention span has dropped with over 30 percent in the last two decades. Mobile devices, multi-tasking and activity based offices are some sources when it comes to deflect our attention. If you are a slave under your cell phone and simultaneously perform work tasks in an activity based office your productivity is close to zero. An abundance of information creates a poverty of attention. It has become a scarce resource. Attention economics is an approach to the management of information that treats human attention as a scarce commodity and applies economic theory to solve various information management problems. I believe shorter attention span has changed how we listen to music. Not from A to Z as the artist intended, but stochastically and abruptly. When something is stochastic and abrupt, it is very difficult to predict the direction. My informed guess is that we are heading for the abyss, but no one will pay any attention.


"Social media minus social is media"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsOnce upon a time social media was a tool to interact and keep in touch with others. Initially, some interactions came closer than you anticipated. I remember a coworker complaining: "I haven't seen my classmate for 30 years. Then she added me. And now I know what she's having for dinner. Every night". There was a time when nothing was too insignificant not to be posted or shared. This was also the golden age for social media lurkers who was active on social media platforms, but instead of participating or engaging with others, consumed informantion and scrolled through content feeds. The last couple of years Facebook has been taken over by influencers, suggestions and advertisment. Their algorithms has actively supported this development. This is maybe an illustration of the different phases in the lifecycle of social media (up, down and out). I'm a stranger in this world and a very late adopter. When I joined Facebook almost 10 years ago it was anonymously under a pseudonym. I have several reasons to remain private. I had one purpose: to promote the website. Anyway, here I stand with 41 FB-friends (a few real friends, some like-minded music lovers and many "friend collectors"). I'm an easy target. I accept almost every friend request. After all, I don't exist. However, I do have a lot of website content to post. Nowadays, 50 percent of all Facebook users doesn't post anything. A large part of the remaining 50 percent are very selective about when, how and what they post. It has become dubious even to make a post. Where does that leave us? Social media minus social is media.

"Streaming Farms"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsSpotify is ripping off artists. What goes around comes around. It was only a question of time until Spotify got ripped off themselves. Big time. This is how it works. First you buy the music catalogue of an obscure artist. Then you play the songs on repeat on hundreds of computers and cellphones. This is known as "Streaming Farms" and gives the concept of passive listening a new and deeper meaning. This way you can earn money. Spotify pays between $0.003-$0.005 per stream on average. To generate any money and make it worthwhile the scale must be enormous. Spotify didn't want to talk about fake streams before. They downplayed the problem, claiming fake streams was less than 1 percent. Now Spotify has woken up and as a new deterrent, beginning early next year they "will start charging labels and distributors per track when flagrant artificial streaming is detected on their content. This new deterrent follows improved artificial streaming detection technology we rolled out earlier this year, as well as the establishment of the newly formed Music Fights Fraud Alliance." The alliance take pathetic oratory to a whole new level: "Music Fights Fraud is a global task force aimed at eradicating streaming fraud. We represent, for the first time, all corners of the music industry aligning as a united front to combat fraud in music streaming. Our mission is to ensure that the global music streaming market is fair and that all members actively contribute to solutions intended to balance the equity of its operations. As an alliance, our members hope to detect, prevent, mitigate, and enforce anti-fraud measures, thereby moving closer to an industry where fraud has no place." Spotify cries crocodile tears. "We believe this will meaningfully deter labels and distributors from continuing to distribute the music of known bad actors that attempt to divert money from honest, hardworking artists." But, who is the real swindler here? The one who pays between $0.003-$0.005 per stream or the farmers? 


"More merchandise than music"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsI follow bands and artists through their newsletters and social media updates (Facebook, that is). When an update is made, I get excited. However, nowadays the updates are more about restocked t-shirts, badges and flasks than new music. It's a sad fact that many bands and artists find it hard to make revenues from music. In fact, many bands and artists basically have to pay to put out their music. At least, if they release anything physically. This can't be right. The ones to blame are companies like Spotify. Their motto is an insult. "Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it." A true motto would be "Our mission is to deprive the potential of human creativity—by ripping off a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and deny billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it." Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. For Spotify, that is. I have nothing against merchandise. Unfortunately, I have all the t-shirts, badges and flasks that I need (and it's not much). I don't judge. And definitely not moralize. But, I do care. In my world, music always comes first.      


"One Year Lost At Sea"

Giving My Bones to the Western LandsI have been listening to Reverend Glasseye's album "One Year Lost At Sea" lately. The self-released album from 2009 consists of demos recorded from 2007-2009 in various locations across Austin Texas, telling angrier stories from a very defeated Adam Glasseye. The rare cd-r was sold at their concerts wrapped in a silk screened cover. "One Year Lost At Sea" is on top of my list 10 rarest albums in the gothic country genre, read more here (opens in a new window). The number of copies is 50 or 100 (figures vary). I have never seen it for sale, but I have been in contact with a guy who actually grabbed a copy at a concert. The album was released digitally in 2015 with bonus tracks on Bandcamp. The six bonus tracks takes the edge of the album. I only listen to the first ten songs on the album. And what an album it is. The songwriting quality is exquisite. Songs like "No Road out of New England", "Notion of Kindness", "Christiania", "Howling Jane", "The Bastard" (placed no. 9 on my list 10 longest songs in the gothic country genre, read more here (opens in a new window)), "The Good Times" and, last but not least, "Last Long Rattle" placed no. 3 on my list 10 best crescendos in the gothic country genre, read more here (opens in a new window). Reverend Glasseye is placed no. 7 on my list 10 most important bands/artists in the gothic country genre, read more here (opens in a new window). Very deservingly. Abundance of talent and there's really not much more to say.

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