Accessibility and value, or does “faster” mean “less”?

Two years ago, the first time I went to Music with a View in TriBeCa, Geoffrey Burleson (with whom I was lucky to study piano) and Mary Rowell performed a Marc Mellits piece called Spin. I immediately really loved the piece and wanted to know more about it, buy the CD, the score, the mug, etc. Naturally I went to Mellits’s website and started looking for a recording of the piece. What did I find? An excerpt.

Just an excerpt.

I went straigt to Amazon MP3. Nothing. iTunes? Nothing. YouTube? Nothing. Bummer. What was I supposed to do?

Listen to Marc Mellit’s album, “Tight Sweater”

I contacted Dacia Music, the company that publishes his music, and got a copy of the score, that I can now follow along the 3 minutes and 28 seconds of the excerpt. To this day, there is no commercial recording of Spin. It is frustrating, but isn’t it for the best?

This brings me to the point of this post: is it always interesting for a composer to make his/her music largely available online? And by largely available I mean fully available.

Following the laws of supply and demand, this piece became very “precious” to my eyes—or ears. It was funny to notice that a 99¢ track that I could not get on iTunes had now the potential to make me pay up to $20 for a ticket to a concert where I could hear it performed. I was suddenly brought back to a time (up to the second half of the 19th century) when people were being completely dependent on musicians to enjoy a piece of music (note that I don’t mention audiation on purpose.)

Now, as composers/performers living in the 21st century what are we supposed to do? Share our music as much as we can on platforms such as Soundcloud? Or just offer excerpts, a taste, a glimpse of a piece?

In early March, Music Marketing just posted an article on their blog about the same issue, but through the lens of waiting…

Waiting is OK

I just finished re-coding the music page on my website and I decided to trim all my “significant” pieces to roughly 30 seconds. This is something rather new for me, but I am confident that, in the long, run, it is beneficial to one’s music. I have made a limited series of CD samplers that I started selling at concerts and by mail. They are handmade in Queens (I documented the process on my Facebook page) and do not come with a download card.

Yes, life is getting faster, especially in big cities, but does one have to follow? I buy music online and get it instantly, but sometimes I almost wish it could take a day or two. I remember being a teenager in the South of France and playing, listening, and buying a lot of Traditional Irish Music (scores and CDs). The Internet was not even an option—or a word—back then. I used to get my dad to fax my orders, using my parents’s credit card and waiting for weeks, to get a fiddle method, a rare Paddy Keenan CD, or a tin whistle in Bb. The reward of receiving my package was really something.

I am not advocating for longer shipping times at Amazon, but I believe that leaving room for wait in the way one interacts with an audience is a healthy thing to do (a reaction to Dromospheric?). The mechanics of desire, or even’s Stendhal’s crystallization are tangible concepts. We are, in the end, not selling vacuum cleaners but bringing music to the world.

What is your position? Are you open to having your music fully available online? Feel free to comment on this blog or find me on Twitter: @tonalfreak.