Easy Come Easy Go
“It’s just fucked up, is what it is. I mean, you pour your heart and soul into something, spend two years trying to get it just right, and then four days after the release people are like: “yeah, that was cool – so when’s the next album coming out?” Our “NEXT” album, really!? Makes you wanna just physically hurt somebody, know what I mean?”. I can’t really say I do. After all, I’ve never spent two years perfecting anything other than my Netflix-user flow, but I nod empathically at my friend and gaze around the room. Most people in the hip party-venue – my frustrated friend included – are in the creative fields; self-employed musicians and struggling filmmakers. They’d probably know exactly what he means. With the introduction of streaming-services like Spotify and Apple Music, and pretty much unlimited access to media online, the way we consume culture has been completely altered, and while vinyl is experiencing a small renaissance, sales of CDs are continuing it’s rapid journey into extinction. And perhaps with them – the album format?
"We are nearing a point where some artists will more than likely break away from feeling like they have to deliver an album as their definitive piece of work and they will be happy with that. But I think the vast majority of musicians at
Is there really any point making an album, if all we care about is a hit-single?
the moment don’t want to hear it. You can see how to suddenly to be told, 'Well, you can record an album but, bar a small fanbase, most people are only ever going to hear one track, and if you don’t write that one hit track that is going to rise above the parapet, you may never get heard', is going to be a tough time for artists. But I think a new generation will emerge who will have less of a problem with that. Slowly, artists are going to have to let go of the album. The digital revolution is transforming the industry and that is unstoppable, whether we like it is irrelevant”, says George Ergatoudis, head of music at BBC Radio 1 and
1Xtra in a 2014 interview with The Guardian. And, with a few recent exceptions like Adeles album “25”, Justin Biebers “Purpose” and David Bowies “Blackstar”, the trend of a single-based market has only grew stronger.
This is also true for the fashion industry – a notoriously capricious business – where small brands are finding new ways of marketing and distributing in a fast-paced climate. By scraping the traditional seasonal collection, Los Angeles-based Swede Anine Bing has built a profitable and highly coveted fashion brand almost exclusively marketed via social media. The former models Instagram account is followed by around 330 000 people, and by posting new items every week – while simultaneously releasing them in the official web shop – Anine has obviously found a formula that truly speaks to a restless market. To put it in music-industry terms:
She’s not focusing on albums, just keeps dropping hit-singles. After only three years, Anine Bing now has 26 employees, stores in four major cities and yearly revenue in excess of 11,5 million dollars. “In 2016 we’ll be opening stores in Paris, Brussels and in San Francisco”, said Anine in an interview with Swedish business magazine DI Weekend. Whatever she is doing – it’s working.
So has it come to this? Is all future design and entertainment about quick fixes, about handling the publics ever shortening attention span and “pumping out singles”? Well, it might seem that way. But one cultural phenomenon in particular is going against the current and growing in strength, in many ways breaking the mold of contemporary pop-culture: Crowdfunding.
Having exhausted his personal savings, as well as the small financial grants given from local art-organizations, director David Sandberg took to creative funding-platform Kickstarter in the hope of raising a few thousand dollars to complete his childhood dream. His project, a short-film about a rouge cop with cobra-bite infused superpower travelling back in time to kill Hitler may have seemed like a hard sell, but the response was nothing short of astonishing. Over the following year more and more people gave their time and money, some going as far as to travel from distant parts of the world just to help out on set, just to make Kung Fury happen.
This has proven to be the case of many crowdfunded projects all over the globe, where an idea catches on and turns into a movement. Right now, if you want to find long-term dedication, patience, commitment and loyal customers in contemporary pop-culture, look to the web-based crowdfunding platforms. So yeah, maybe the “album” is dead. Maybe we’re a little more easily distracted, and prone for a quick-fix, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost the capacity to dig deep. As they say, sometimes all it takes is a time-traveling-rouge-Kung Fu-cop to get us to commit.
Words: Jonas Pekkari
Design: Marc Strömberg
Model: Cecilia Gärding
[1,70 cm tall, wearing mens M]