The Long Tail of music

Wednesday, 26 November, 2014

In the early days of 1993, Elton John was forced to end a concert in Melbourne half an hour early when a swarm of grasshoppers invaded the stage. During that same year, Steve Albini exposed the rottenness at the core of the popular music industry in an angry, derisive article titled The Problem With Music. The same Steve Albini delivered a 10,000-word address to the Face the Music conference in Melbourne last weekend and it’s a significant update on where the business is going. Unlike many in the music trade, he regards the internet as a force for good and he’s very enthusiastic about its Long Tail potential for small bands and obscure artists.

Speaking of that Long Tail, it can be seen at work in the current popularity of Gymnosphere: Song of the Rose, a pre-New Age masterpiece by Jordan De La Sierra. No one bothered much about it when it was first released in 1977, but now it’s all the rage. De La Sierra’s two-hour recording took place in a small studio in Berkeley, and he then recorded that recording while it was played in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, to capture the building’s spiritual reverberations. It’s a long tail that has no ending.

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