For more than hundred years, music groups duplicate their concert salary by recording their music, forward it to the media and sell it to the public – from the early wax cylinder recordings to modern digital compact discs. However, in the second decade of the 21st century there are great changes underway.
CD sales have dropped, not only because of the poor economic state but changed listening habits as well. There are many young people who have no CD player and have probably never bought a CD in their life. Their music collection is stored on their smart phone or snatched from stream sites.
Yes, the FolkWorld webzine is affected by the trend. Artists question to pay mail and send us physical CDs, but offer mp3 downloads instead. Still, the physical recording medium remains an issue. This is maybe because folk and roots music is largely a cottage industry, radio and TV is rarely broadcasting this kind of music, and many acts have no chance to be seen live in concert because they get never near you.
"Playing live is what we do and you can't substitute that with anything else, it is our trump card", says Irish accordionist Benny McCarthy. The successful Scottish folk band Breabach is constantly on the road, stating that many CDs are still purchased at their concerts. The band's guitar player Ewan Robertson is convinced that folkies want to retain something from a concert. That doesn't work with a download code.
Benny McCarthy adds, "A CD these days is more a business card to get gigs or a souvenir to get the act to sign after the show ... You need a new album to get a new tour, it tells your fans and the general public that they will be seeing a new show, and going into a recording studio hones your skills and makes you think about your performance."
Andy Irvine's new band Usher's Island has just released their debut album, two years after their live debut. He agress, "In this day and age, it doesn't matter who you are, you still need to be able to show your wares to potential promoters and, importantly to listeners and people who still buy music." Andy even goes so far as: "I think our progress has been hampered till now, by not having anything recorded."
With FolkWorld's 20th anniversary approaching, we realize that there is a lingering interest from artists and promoters as well as the listening audience in magazines and webzines and their reports and reviews. There's still loads of CDs piling upon our desks, which need to be listened to, evaluated, explained, praised and damned. FolkWorld's reviewers try to make a good job. They invest a lot of their spare time to get the music to you - only for the glory, and sure, the fun of it.
There is a difficulty. The FolkWorld team is unfortunatly just a small group of people, so it might sometimes take some time that a CD is eventually reviewed. I don't like it, and I feel bad about it. But how can we change this? Are there no people to complement our team, who want to learn about the latest folk and roots music and tell the world about it?!
Yes, we need you!! We do not only depend on our readers (of course), but we badly need CD and concert reviewers, interviewers and commentators. Don't be frightened, there is no need to spend hours on hours, any contribution, however small, is welcome. You feel addressed? You love folk, roots and world music? Don't hesitate, approach us, ask us, and we all together may keep FolkWorld going for another 20 years!
All the best and a beautiful summer, Tom Keller (Walkin' T:-)M)
Photo Credits: (1) Cordeen, (2) Breabach, (3) Usher's Island (unknown/website).