How are the ways we value music shifting in the era of music streaming and intangible mp3s? This question was put to me in a recent episode of BBC Radio 4’s Digital Human (November 2013).
The show looks at shifting ideas of value in many fields of art. Auctioneer Anita Manning discusses the importance of scarcity value in the antiques trade. Evolutionary biologist Chris Speed considers the origins of bling and other varieties of conspicuous consumption. There’s also a report on a fascinating research project using clothes donated to Oxfam. Each donation is marked with a QR code which anyone in the shop can swipe with their smartphone to access a potted history, written by its former owner.
I appear briefly, explaining the choices I’ve made as a musician over the last decade. Increasingly, I’ve moved away from pure laptop performance and have reintroduced robots, acoustic instruments and other physical machines into my act. In doing so, almost by accident, I’ve created an act that can’t be distilled into a YouTube video or bunch of mp3 files.
The show also discusses the recent vinyl renaissance. I examine the lure of this beloved old medium and explain why I still find it problematic, musically, to release digitally composed works on vinyl.
The show is presented by technologist and journalist Aleks Krotoski. It was researched by Aleks, Peter McManus and Elizabeth Duffy. You can hear it on BBC iPlayer if you live in the UK.