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Audio: Alan Cross on the Impact of Streaming

  1. Listen: Alan Cross on Streaming and the Music Business 31:57
It’s obvious but important to note that popular music always has been controlled by the limits of the technologies used to record and deliver the music to its audience.

I argue that there have been three major breakthroughs in popular music technology,  each with their unique incremental steps. Broadly, they are transmitting music over the air, making music portable and making individual songs available. The third is streaming.

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Alan Cross (Photo: Nathalaribeiro)

The Daily Music Break had the opportunity to chat with music commentator and analyst Alan Cross recently about how streaming, which of course more or less defines the third category, has changed the business. The conversation stands on its own, but the questions were based on a recent edition of his “The Ongoing History of New Music” podcast entitled “Trying to be a Superstar in the 21st Century” (here it is at Spotify). I highly recommend the podcast, which can be at all the usual podcast hangouts and through Alan’s blog, A Journal of Musical Things. Alan combines deep knowledge with insightful analysis.

The bottom line is that streaming brought ubiquitous, structural change to the industry. It has transformed how creativity is expressed,  the ground rules controlling how artists are compensated, how music is consumed and more or less eliminated production and distribution costs. Each of these changes are important. Taken together, they are transformational.

Alan, who explains it all well, is a busy man. “The Ongoing History of New Music” also appears as a radio show – expanded with music — on various radio stations across North America. In addition, he has an hour-long show weeknights at 7 PM ET on 102.1 The Edge in Toronto. Alan runs another podcasts, “Beats and Geeks,” which focuses on music and technology. More information about him, links to his various endeavors as well as music news and analysis can be found at A Journal of Musical Things.

 

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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