Woe Is Me – The Agony Of Streaming

promo, rant, streaming can suck my balls

I appreciate that I am in a rather privileged position as a music reviewer. I get sent albums before they are out; I get to go to gigs and take photos and generally have a good time for next to nothing. I get to meet and talk to some of the people that have made some of the most exciting music I’ve ever heard. Being a reviewer certainly has its perks.

Now, I’m not about to bite the hand, or burn a bridge, or shit where the breakfast things are laid out, but there are elements of this writing lark that I could do without. Mediocre albums are undoubtedly the hardest thing to deal with. A truly great album is a doddle to review – superlatives are never a problem. Similarly, a truly epic piece of shit is an utter gift. In many ways, such works of art are much easier to review than the great records. A chance to vent is never a bad thing. I try my best to be as positive as I can about most of what I review, but sometimes it is impossible to hold back. An explosion of disbelief is probably good for the health and prevents the onset of stress tumours or heart conditions, probably.
A mediocre record is a travesty. Something so bland and ineffectual that it barely registers is almost impossible to review. If anything, they really deserve a heavier pasting that the truly shit albums just for having the audacity to even exist and waste everybody’s time.
The one thing I cannot stand however is being sent things to review via stream. It totally gets on my fucking tits. I can’t be bothered to sit in front of my laptop, listening to things on tinny headphones, or throwing signals to various devices, or listening to them on a phone, or whatever it is people do these days. I mean, I’m not exactly a fan of CDs or MP3 players, but at least they are portable. Streaming stuff feels like an appalling chore that requires me to be in one place constantly to listen to an album, and at the end of it, there’s nothing to show for it, other than a review that has been created out of nothing but brain power. There’s very little in the way of reward for writing these days, and though I’d like to say I do it for the love, that’d be a lie, or a slight untruth. Obviously I write about music because I love writing about music, and I love music but sometimes it is nice to be rewarded for the effort. There’s no promo CDs or vinyls these days, not a lot in the way of cash (if anything at all), just a bunch of downloadable MP3s and an occasional guest list. When there’s not even a copy of the album as reward for engaging my critical faculties then frankly I’m not that bothered thanks.
Even worse are the albums that you get a set amount of time and a set amount of chances to listen to. For instance, your ability to stream a record might stretch to five attempts and you’ve got three days in which to listen to this prized asset. Well thanks a lot. So, lets see how these five sittings go shall we?
  1. Attempt to figure out whether it’s possible to break the source code. It isn’t. And I’d never do such a thing.
  2. Lost internet connection. Fuck.
  3. Interrupted by a phone call. Vaguely figure out there might be an in depth concept at work here. Probably wrong. Consider purchasing time share option from cold caller.
  4. Actually listen to album in full. It’s a bit shit, but that might be because of the situation you now find yourself in. Fuck.
  5. “These songs are no longer available”
So now it’s time to write the review. Let’s look at the notes.
“This album sucks, and this band can fucking do one. I would gladly put each of their heads on blunt spikes once I’ve stopped fucking their eye sockets”
Hmmm, not a lot to go on there.
Obviously I’m slightly more professional than that, but only just. I swear slightly less. I like to think I’m objective, and I am, but this is the kind of thing that could push a reviewer over the edge. Albums have depths. They are supposed to be listened multiple times. Quite often they take time to reveal themselves and what they have to say. They are supposed to be listened to on proper stereos and through proper speakers. The minute bands start mastering their album for phones, then that is the day that those bands will be removing phones from their orifices. It’s only a matter of time I’m sure.
So there you go, that’s the downside of reviewing. There’s plenty of upside too. I get to hear new and exciting music all the time (and some utter shit too) and for that I’m thankful. If I’m required to engage my brain however, it’d be nice if it was worth the effort.

Oh and that Play MPE thing can suck my balls too.

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