Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Indie Record Company Folds

The indie record company Touch and Go Records is going out of business. Whether one follows the kind of music they promote or not, this is worth a check-out as it's symptomatic of much that is going on with indie arts.

Tip of the hat to Carrie over at NPR's monitormix for her very good post.

CB's reaction said it best:

"I read the news about Touch and Go today. I was sitting in a restaurant and I checked my phone and gasped; my friend actually asked what was wrong. Something is wrong. We are careening toward a paucity of experience and a paucity of means with which to evaluate music. I mean, can we really engage with art on a Web site and in a vacuum, without ever bothering to contextualize it or make it coherent with our lives or form a community around the work? If we never move beyond the ephemeral and facile nature of music Web sites -- and let's not lie to ourselves, that's where it ends for a lot of us these days -- then that makes us worse than blind consumers; it makes us dabblers. We have become musical tourists. And tourism is the laziest form of experience, because it is spoonfed and sold to us. Tourism cannot and should not replace the physical energy, the critical thinking and the tiresome but ultimately edifying road of adventure, and thus also of life."

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Anonymous said...

"a paucity of experience"

very well put. i don't know this record company but i concur with the reaction. art needs to be supported. esp. the indie kind.

Anonymous said...

looks like a good bank of info. bookmarked it.

Sra said...

Maybe I just don't get the article, but what's the problem here? Is she complaining that music seekers have taken to finding music only online, and positing that they no longer buy music in real life?

If so, first off, I happen to disagree that the internet age has caused record sales to dwindle. I just think it has caused them to change in nature. Used to be the only place you could find new music was on public radio, and you bought what they wanted you to buy. Now people have access to a very broad selection of music at the tips of their fingers, and so support for music has spread out accordingly.

On the one hand, it is easier than ever for a no-name band to gain recognition and a following, on the other hand, it is more difficult for records to gain platinum and multi-platinum status as people are not buying just the prescribed music. We are able to define our own tastes and follow what we want.

Furthermore, the nature of the music industry has changed, and if the economic models of the music industry don't adapt accordingly, record labels can be expected to go under.

I'm not sure I really get the article, though. I'm not sure what the demon is and what we are being asked to do about it.

Anonymous said...

Well, it is a good idea to support indie record companies because they have the know-how to discover the real talent. As much as many of us would like to think we can see what's for real and what's not, the professional ear is not a thing to discount.
I'd agree with Carrie Brownstein even though I don't know the particular projects of this indie label.

B.R. said...

I agree with Carrie's point because I happen to be one of those consumers who appreciated informed feedback. I believe in the importance of the contribution that the music critic and the rock journalist makes.
I don't think that people, on their own, can always find the most qualitative superior art. We all need some direction and help. Granted, one of the beauties of the internet is the freedom it affords some musicians to decide on their own how to promote their art.
Business like Touch and Go Records represent a voice of information and expertise that the rest of us don't have.
I don't consider myself a connoisseur of music. I'm a 'liker' even 'lover' of music but I'm very much a dabbler, at best.
I trust the opinion of those who know how the business the works.
As Carrie puts it this 'paucity of experience' needs to be corrected.

Unknown said...

We all need to be informed and educated by those who are trained in the specific fields. Music journalists and record label folk definitely know more about the ins&outs of music industry.

Sra said...

Ah, I see. I didn't understand the issue. I guess to me it's a non-issue, because I'm not much of a label or brand follower myself. I don't think you have to have a trained ear to know what you like musically. You just have to listen to something and ask yourself if you like it. Movie critics don't all always agree, and sometimes even if they agree they miss the point. I feel the same way about music and all kinds of art. Something may unequivocally exhibit more skill and talent than something else, but if I don't like it, it doesn't matter. I don't think we really need labels to tell us what's worth listening to. We just need those cartilagey things on the sides of our heads.

B.R. said...

This is NOT about simply being a brand follower. If anything, indie labels tend to discourage brand manias and unsubstantial/undeserved following.

Certain brands, however, represent a kind of text that, on account of their history and past record, bring some measure of reliance to the table. The brand is not enough to clothe an item qualitatively, of course not. Other things matter, too. At least, I think so.

I don't think it wise to neglect informed 'authority' and assume that a subject will know, solo, which forms of art are great and which aren't. Personally, I find that attitude presumptuous.

For instance, to get some specifics on Dante, I talk to a Dantista instead of a modernist.

I tend to (cognitively) rely on the analyses of the informed. I don't need the critic and the professional to influence my likes/dislikes, however. I need them to give me that all-too-important, bigger socio/cultural/historical context. Maybe I take my likes/hobby all too seriously. Maybe the modus operandi I espouse in my primary field is spilling over. Anyway, be that as it may, I am the kind of art consumer who appreciates feedback.

Sra said...

I suppose I just find the idea of greatness to be relative. Something may be great if it exhibits skill, talent, genius, whatever, but the measure of those things is at least in part a measure of taste as well. I can ask an authority to help me understand art, but the value of that art to my life depends upon my own impression of it, regardless of what the authority thinks about it. But I am willing to agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think I see CB's point here. It's not about being a blind follower of a business but rather paying tribute to the art of music reviews and music production.
Half the fun of music is enjoying the music reading community's feedback on, well, music.