This isn’t an easy letter to write, but after 13 years (‘member since 2006’) and getting on for 12,000 filesI feel it’s time to say goodbye. It’s not me, I’m still here with my hard drive and itunes folders. But you’re not the person I entered into an annual contract with all those years ago. We have to talk.
When did things go wrong? I guess there’s always been some label churn, but the website relaunch a couple of years ago co-incided with what felt like half the catalogue disappearing overnight. It’s been downhill quickly from there, every month bringing news of more defections and more baffling statements about Blockchain (quick hint – no-one wants it, no-one trusts it). Ours was a relationship founded on some very simple and clear ideas. You bring us indie labels – no-one’s expecting Apple Records or the AC/DC catalogue, and we give you a monthly sub. Simple.
What happened over there? Is it that the labels all left, and Blockchain was the child you wanted us to have to keep us together; or was it that Blockchain was like the jealous girlfriend meme, turning your head while the labels all frowned. Because the results are sad to see. A proliferation of ‘remastered’ music labels (equals ripped from a dodgy vinly original). I mean come on – the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan on emusic. Kind of Blue? Er, no. Kind of dodgy. And in the actual indie label scene it was like that Neil Kinnock Sun headline, except it’s you guys turning off the lights.The new music carousel is full of albums released six months ago. There’s a general air of tumbleweed flowing through the entire site. The Facebook page is full of angry ranters asking for their catalogues back.
It doesn’t matter now. It seems to be done. It’s over. So let’s raise a glass to the good times. 2006 eh. Before Spotify, before Facebook, almost before Youtube. No iphone. Wi fi was barely a thing. Streaming was something your nose did. But there you were, a tip off by someone at work. 75 tracks a month – DRM free – from Rough Trade to Domino – for oh a reasonable monthly fee. A fee which became so reasonable as the years went on it felt like the only reason to hang around. But hey, let’s remember the good times. And they were great.
Whole genres of music, from jazz to minimal house, were opened up to me via your downloads. The National, John Coltrane, The Field, Bonobo, the second coming of Wire, Ghostbox, Merge and on and on. Daughter moles has used the last few months credits to load up on Earache Records finest. And you only made more sense when Spotify came along. Try on the green dot, buy on the red dot. My ipod died, but you could still load your tunes onto my phone.
Yes, maybe the catalogue back three years ago didn’t feel quite what it was. Reading The Guardian reviews on a Friday, there were the warning signs when you failed to pick up that 5-star indie album with increasing frequency. But we were still working. We were. And then came the website relaunch, the catalogue vanishing, the Blockchain thing (hey if I’m going on about it, then you started it).
I come to bury emusic. 7 digital, qoboz, google play and maybe even some physical product are the way forward. But also to praise it. It had its time and its time was glorious. Just never mention blockchain to me again.