Well that was the week that was! I promised to post each day and did including this, a ‘cheat’ post in which I wanted to take a brief opportunity to explain The Brew itself. If you've been reading regularly, you will have ‘got it’ by now. The Brew is here to offer a deeper insight into music industry issues than you might get from mainstream press or even most specialist media blogs.
It is sometimes vaguely topical, but not news, since music industry news is so widely available. If you don't already take them you must seek out Digital Music News, Five-Eight, Hypebot, Coolfer and MusicAlly for timely & savvy insights on digital music issues. And for all-round music perspective, Record of the Day of course.
On Juggernaut, I'm trying to write about the fundamental issues in music & the music business mainly from a consumer perspective – one so easily forgotten in the relentless tide of new technology and corporate shenanigans. If I occasionally veer off to more into discussing music more than business I make no apology for that, since in the end it’s all about the music after all. And writing about music itself can bring about the best, deepest insights.
Very briefly on the name, which a few more curious folks have asked me about. Well, it was, somewhat fleetingly, going to be a blog about music AND coffee, which is another life necessity and great passion of mine. However, I quickly realised I know nothing about coffee or the business of coffee, so that was that. The play on words is derived from 2008’s theme tune to my life, Elbow’s ‘Bones Of You’ (from the now miraculously popular and no less superb for it ‘Seldom Seen Kid’) in which the highly-stressed protagonist is "charging around with a juggernaut brow" (roughly 20 seconds in). Juggernaut brow/brew (coffee), geddit? Thanks for that.
In trying to take a lighter as well as more frequent touch this week, I managed to bemuse, daze & confuse a handful of regular readers. Have no fear The Brew will be back to business as usual from next time. I did however find another platform for a lighter touch – Twitter. I know, I know, I’m late to the party. To be honest I don’t think I’m long for it either, so get my Twitter updates (there on the right) while they last! Do the people at Twitter expect us to stick with this for life? No! We can’t create an existential vacuum this big for long, surely?
I wasn’t even curious about Twitter until reading Rob Fitzpatrick’s write up in The Word and coming across one comment on the therapeutic benefits of emptying your mind - getting your thoughts out of your head and into the cloud. Seemed a nice break from getting my head out of the clouds! Having tried Twitter I’m at least more qualified to comment on its application now, which for commercial brands I think is limited. The brand and record company feeds are boring. But it’s a fun way for smaller more specialist communities to bond and certainly a great way for bands to engage with fans. As to the commercial model – same as usual with new digital phenomena – to be confirmed.
Which brings me briefly back to yesterday’s post on the ongoing commercial challenges for digital music in which I neglected to register my concern and sadness over the closure of Fabchannel. The live music streaming site had been built up over nearly a decade and had a catalogue of over 900 separate performances. Firmly setting its stall out as free to users and ad-funded, ultimately Fabchannel could not make that formula work, despite a heroic effort.
The audio-visual digital space is an area in which I’ve done enough work to know just how hard it is. Fabchannel couldn’t squeeze enough blood from the stone even with the added value of exclusive, live content. For yet another gut wrenching account of how a digital music start-up eventually turned to dust, read Justin Knight’s ‘leaving letter’ on the current homepage. Ring any bells? Not too dissimilar from Justin Ouellette’s closing remarks on his closure of the original Muxtape which I posted on in December last year. What with the week's other fallout, I do hope Fabchannel doesn’t become symbolic of what’s happening in the music video space generally.
Ending on a better note, this week it struck me for the first time this year how 2009 is shaping up to be another good year musically (personally I thought 2008 literally, rocked). Wednesday’s post waxed lyrical on great music from unexpected sources, in this case Starsailor’s magnificent ‘All The Plans’. And with new albums up soon from Doves, The Hours, Laura Viers (anyone any news on this?) there’s clearly never a shortage of creative genius out there however they might all eventually get paid!