Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Polyphonic Spree and Obsessive Listening

A few weeks back we had the pleasure of seeing the Polyphonic Spree perform live here in Vancouver.  That was the second time we've witnessed the spectacle of that massive band performing in our city.  This show, though a little smaller than the previous one we caught on their Fragile Army tour (I think they had 21 people on stage then, this tour had 17) was just as enjoyable, maybe even more so as we were closer to them all in Venue than we'd been at the Commodore.

I kinda admire and love The Polyphonic Spree.  They have good songs, a wonderful live show and an inherently positive feel and message to their music.  Tim DeLaughter is a great frontman for the band, conducting them with passion and humour.  If you haven't seen The Polyphonic Spree yet, do so, they are more that worth whatever the ticket price may be, and will reward you with energy for days to come.

The weekend we saw the band I decided that buying their latest album (Yes, It's True) wasn't really supporting them enough.  I mean with all those band members, even going to the show can hardly make a dent in their expenses.  So I figured I'd play all their albums on repeat for the entire weekend.  We had The Polyphonic Spree going night and day in our house for the Saturday and Sunday following the show streaming on Rdio.  It was all in attempt to gift them another dollar or so to help them keep going.  I believe the final tally was 350+ plays, which at $0.0034/play should earn them about one  dollar.  (Streaming site pay out after 60-90 days).  It's hardly going to change anyone's finances but it does do a few little things.

One; it creates motion around their songs.  I have our Rdio account hooked up to our Last.fm account.  That means that what ever we play from gets counted on Last.fm and goes into their statistics.  The spins get counted and numbers move.  Once again, one person with a computer can't really generate the kind of numbers to place a band on the top 40 charts alone, but it does mean that our avatar shows us listening to the PS and perhaps someone poking around on the net will be intrigued enough to click thru and give them a listen too.

Two; it does pay the band a tiny bit more, hopefully encouraging them to continue making great music.  Even though I've already purchased their albums I still play them back (when at home at least) from Rdio in order to send a few pennies more into their coffers.

This past week it's been The Replacements and New Order that've been on high rotation.  It's been a pleasure to revisit those albums from the 80's once again.  Even though we still have almost all of their collection on vinyl, and some on cd, it's good to think that even listening to them on streaming radio can put additional money into their account.

So I guess I'm suggesting that you try the same if you use Spotify, Rdio, Deezer etc.  Maybe take a day and load up a playlist of your favorite albums and let it play all day.  Certainly any local indie acts you may know would benefit from this kind of love.  It's more than the pennies that count.  Those plays eventually make the act appear on charts, giving a better impression to new listeners, and hopefully create some momentum around a release to help spread the word.  You've probably seen it many times: a video with higher plays continues to get more clicks, while another song with lower play counts is passed over.  We instinctively seem to prefer going with the popular option as a short hand to learning a band's music.  Fair enough, I've done it for decades too.  But it's when you go deep into a catalog that you truly learn the full scope of an act, and hopefully discover the hidden gems that reward the true fan.

It's hard to make a living from music.  It always has been but it's even more difficult now. I know the numbers are miniscule from these streaming site but let me recommend you binge out on a few favorites and send them some love anyway.  Start a wave!

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