The news that SoundCloud has sacked nearly half its workforce and faces an uncertain future is one of those periodic tremors through the ever-changing construction site of streaming platforms that makes you wonder what might come crashing down next. Few of these edifices, from SoundCloud to Spotify to Mixcloud, make enough money to stand on their own feet, which means many need periodic injections of cash to prop them up.
Me, I used to love SoundCloud, although, uh, I guess it’s been a while since we last hung out. For a time, it was my go-to listening tool while editing at work. I would clamp on my headphones, marvel at the sight of the waveforms, like orange-coloured exotic sea creatures, and follow connections from artist to artist and see where they led. For artists, it became an effective place to store new tracks for anyone to check out, instantaneously and for free.
Our bust-up came when SoundCloud started to follow tracks you wanted to listen to with completely inappropriate ones you didn’t, like an overenthusiastic music mate who claims “If you like that, you’re gonna LOVE this” but views your tastes through a lowest common denominator lens. I have a similar relationship with Mixcloud, where searches for particular shows or stations often yield only alternative or half-related shows from long ago. More recently, SoundCloud has started to nudge you to login or register at each inconvenient opportunity, in order to keep you plugged into the social network side of the platform. But since most SoundCloud track comments say little more than “dude sick!” or “fuck yeah!”, they’re music conversations I can do without. On the grapevine, you hear about a darker kind of social networking with SoundCloud – it was apparently recruiting people for new jobs in new cities just weeks before this current tsunami of sackings.
Louise Gray, in this month’s review of archive releases by Jocy De Oliveira and Annea Lockwood in The Boomerang, says, “The speed of contemporary digital communication is double-edged. For all the near instantaneous access it allows us to the cornucopian content available, there’s a counterbalancing loss: of slow-forming communities, of gestating ideas and intuitive leaps.” Rather than the near instantaneous appreciation and opprobrium of SoundCloud comments or Discogs reviews, Louise lauds forums such as the 1960s publication Source, a global network for mutual support of experimental musicians through writing, editing, correspondence and collaboration.
This idea chimes with Luke Nickel, who is interviewed by Tim Rutherford-Johnson in his piece on composers who unsettle conventional musical scores by bringing performers into the equation. By using musicians as ‘living archives’ – real-life guardians of his compositions in preference to written records – Nickel creates what Tim describes as socially networked forms of composition. This initiative has since expanded into micro-broadcasts addressed to particular performers, and even instructions that “have to be deleted, Mission Impossible-style, after hearing”.
In June I attended Mark Fell’s small weekend festival Lush Spectra in Sheffield. Saturday night’s centrepiece – or so it seemed to me, drifting between hyper-awareness and sleep at 3am – was Ryoko Akama’s rendering of one of Éliane Radigue’s OCCAM pieces on tape, synthesizer and other electronics. Akama, who writes this issue’s Inner Sleeve about Yoko Ono, another innovator in the field of instructions and oblique strategies, says that she used “an oral description of what OCCAM was and how it should be played”, and spent time with Radigue to discuss the piece and attune to her philosophies.
As I write, I get an email from Bandcamp, a site for music sales and streaming that does much to nurture musical communities and work directly with artists. Luis Alvarado’s amazing Peruvian label Buh has just dropped a new album – “Enjoy!” it says cheerily, with none of the cajoling to plug yourself into the network that many streaming platforms view as the route to commercial solvency.
One hopes that SoundCloud and other music platforms are not about to blow up, Mission Impossible-style, but in the meantime, it’s a reminder that the social networks we most value, online or not, are the ones with real relationships at their heart. Derek Walmsley
UK, Europe & Rest of World (excl USA) COMAG Specialist Division Tavistock Works, Tavistock Road West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 7QX Tel +44 (0)1895 433800 email@example.com
USA Ingram Periodicals Box 600, 18 Ingram Blvd La Vergne , TN 37086-7000 Tel 800 627 6247 firstname.lastname@example.org
Worldwide Central Books (Magazine Dept) 50 Freshwater Road, Chadwell Heath, London RM8 1RX Tel +44 (0)20 8986 4854 email@example.com
Independent record shops
UK & Europe Shellshock, 23A Collingwood Road London N15 4EL Tel +44 (0)20 8800 8110 Fax +44 (0)20 8800 8140 firstname.lastname@example.org
USA Forced Exposure 219 Medford St Malden, MA 02148-7301 Fax 781 321 0321 email@example.com
Rest of World Contact The Wire direct Tel +44 (0)20 7422 5022 Fax +44 (0)20 7422 5011 firstname.lastname@example.org
NB The Wire can also supply record shops in Europe direct
4 | The Wire | Masthead
12 issues UK £49 Europe £69/€82 USA/Canada £69/US$88 Rest of World (Air) £79
12 months Worldwide £30/US$40/€36
See page 104 for details, or go to thewire.co.uk/subscribe
The Wire is published 12 times a year by The Wire Magazine Ltd. Printed in the UK by Wyndeham Group.
The Wire was founded in 1982 by Anthony Wood. Between 1984–2000 it was part of Naim Attallah’s Namara Group. In December 2000 it was purchased in a management buy-out by the magazine’s then current staff. It continues to publish as a 100 per cent independent operation.
The views expressed in The Wire are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. The Wire assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, illustrations or promotional items. Copyright in the UK and abroad is held by the publisher or by freelance contributors. Unauthorised reproduction of any item is forbidden.
Issue 403 September 2017 £4.95 ISSN 0952-0686
The Wire Unit 5, Textile Building, 2a Belsham St, London E9 6NG Tel +44 (0)20 7422 5010, fax +44 (0)20 7422 5011 thewire.co.uk facebook.com/The.Wire.Magazine @thewiremagazine Subscriptions email@example.com Listings firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher Tony Herrington email@example.com Editor-in-Chief Chris Bohn firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor Derek Walmsley email@example.com Deputy Editors Emily Bick firstname.lastname@example.org Joseph Stannard email@example.com
Advertising & Licensing Manager Shane Woolman firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Sales Gustave Evrard email@example.com Advertising Sales & Media Partnerships Astrud Steehouder firstname.lastname@example.org Online Editor Daisy Hyde email@example.com
Online Content, Subscriptions & Shop Meg Woof firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions & Listings Phil England email@example.com Listings & Newsletters Sophia Ignatidou firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Direction & Design Ben Weaver email@example.com Gareth Lindsay firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscriptions & Systems Consultant Ben House email@example.com Online Development Dorian Fraser Moore firstname.lastname@example.org
Archivist Edwin Pouncey email@example.com
Contributing Editors Frances Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org Anne Hilde Neset email@example.com Rob Young firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks this issue to Philippe Karrer and Sam White
Words Jennifer Lucy Allan, Steve Barker, Mike Barnes, Dan Barrow, Robert Barry, Tristan Bath, Clive Bell, Abi Bliss, Marcus Boon, Britt Brown, Nick Cain, Philip Clark, Byron Coley, Lara C Cory, Julian Cowley, Alan Cummings, Erik Davis, Geeta Dayal, Katrina Dixon, Phil England, Kodwo Eshun, Phil Freeman, Rory Gibb, Francis Gooding, Kurt Gottschalk, Louise Gray, Andy Hamilton, Adam Harper, Jim Haynes, Ken Hollings, Hua Hsu, Maya Kalev, David Keenan, Kek-W, Biba Kopf, Matt Krefting, Neil Kulkarni, Sam Lefebvre, Dave Mandl, Howard Mandel, Wayne Marshall, Marc Masters, Noel Meek, Bill Meyer, Aurora Mitchell, Keith Moliné, Will Montgomery, Brian Morton, Joe Muggs, Alex Neilson, Daniel Neofetou, Andrew Nosnitsky, Louis Pattison, Ian Penman, Richard Pinnell, Edwin Pouncey, Nina Power, Chal Ravens, Simon Reynolds, Nick Richardson, Bruce Russell, Sukhdev Sandhu, Claire Sawers, Peter Shapiro, Stewart Smith, Nick Southgate, Daniel Spicer, Richard Stacey, David Stubbs, Greg Tate, Dave Tompkins, David Toop, Rob Turner, Val Wilmer, Matt Wuethrich
Images Chris Buck, Tara Darby, Max Doyle, Mateo Gomez Garcia, Mikael Gregorsky, Jacob Johnson, Adama Jalloh, Joyce Kim, Stacy Kranitz, Gábor Arion Kudász, Dawid Laskowski, Chad Moore, Savage Pencil, Lua Ribeira, Michael Schmelling, Rosaline Shahnavaz, Rebecca Thomas, Jake Walters, Juuso Westerlund
You have no current subscriptions in your account.
Would you like to explore the titles in our collection?
You have no collections in your account.
Would you like to view your available titles?