ECM is finally streaming, and I’m here to tell you what’s good

As some of you might have heard, the legendary Munich label ECM finally jumped on the streaming bandwagon. Yes, Manfred, I wholeheartedly agree that the beautiful music your label publishes demands to be listened on CDs and LPs, but these are harder and harder to take on a plane. With iPod Classic not sold anymore and iTunes morphing into Apple Music, music lovers will soon be left with only 3rd party solutions to keep actual music files on their smartphones. So thank you, herr Eicher, for allowing us to stream your whole catalog in 96 kbps Ogg Vorbis Spotify streams. (Did Keith Jarrett sign off on that btw? Nevermind, I know he didn’t. )

The New York Times recently published a list of their 21 “essential” ECM albums, and I agree with many of their picks. But at the end of the day they are just The New York Times, so what would they know? Here are my favorite ECM albums, which you should listen to at once. My list is of course highly subjective, but my taste is known to be notoriously better than NYT’s. Continue reading “ECM is finally streaming, and I’m here to tell you what’s good”

Spotify, Pandora and how streaming music kills jazz and classical

“All of my colleagues — composers and arrangers — are seeing huge cuts in their earnings,” says Paul Chihara, a veteran composer who until recently headed UCLA’s film-music program. “In effect, we’re not getting royalties. It’s almost amusing some of the royalty checks I get.” One of the last checks he got was for $29. “And it bounced.”

Scott Timberg writes about how the recent rise of streaming services like Spotify, Rdio or Pandora affects royalties in the world of niche music. It’s sad, but not unexpected. However, at least in Europe a jazz/classical music enthusiast observes a growing number of websites that sell uncompressed audio files from small labels. There’s the German Highresaudio and the Norwegian Gubemusic, and both these services have a pretty big catalogue (at least compared to the American HDTracks).1 They are also both targeting the narrow group of listeners, and their catalogues contain mostly jazz and classical music. Which brings us to the second quote from the article:

Here’s a good place to start: Say you’re looking for a bedrock recording, the Beethoven Piano Concertos, with titan Maurizio Pollini on piano. Who is the “artist” for this one? Is it the Berlin Philharmonic, or Claudio Abbado, who conducts them? Is it Pollini? Or is it Beethoven himself? If you can see the entire record jacket, you can see who the recording includes. Otherwise, you could find yourself guessing.

My question is: why hasn’t anyone figured this out yet? It’s an at-least-decent business idea, and there’s a consumer group that can be easily targeted. Jazz fans complain about Spotify’s lack of content all the time. They also tend to be affluent (or pose as such, or are willing to spend more money on music), so you can charge them more. And they’re often suffering from audiophiliac illness.

Create an elite, expensive streaming service for jazz and classical lovers. Take our money!


  1. Yes, I know high-res downloads make no sense. I don’t care. I only care that it’s lossless and that they have albums others don’t.