Music writer and ex-producer Harold Heath gazes deep into his navel and wonders what’s going to happen to all this music…
Before writing about music made me an ultra-rich oligarch, I was a millionaire record producer, raking in huge sums from the online sales and streaming of my minor-label house music releases. But I decided that I really needed a second fleet of solid gold yachts and so switched to writing about music instead.
In an occasional act of ego, I idly flick through my own tracks on Beatport or Spotify and wonder where they’ll fit in the general history of house and electronic music. It’s the ex-producer equivalent of paying nostalgia-ridden rainy-day visits to rave venues long gone, only more tragic and with less serotonin.
Our generation has created such a quantity of recorded music that the fate of my oeuvre, such as it is, will surely be different from music created previously. Thousands of individual pieces of music are released for sale in online music stores every day. Countless more appear from producers sharing their work through Soundcloud or Bandcamp. There are now more DJ/producers than actual atoms in the universe, probably, and the EU’s ‘Riders On The Storm’ re-edit surplus is fast reaching critical levels. Never have so many pieces of music been published and then ignored.
This all creates a particular conundrum for the forward-thinking small-time dance music producer. How will you get the archivists of the future to listen to your particular tune out of the several thousand other new pieces of music that were released on the same day as yours? I’d go with giving your songs titles like ‘You Won’t Believe What’s Encoded Into This Song’ or ‘The True Explanation for Tropical House Is Hidden In This Track’s Outro & Will Blow Your Mind’, that kind of thing.
The music of Harold Heath will leave a very faint musical footprint, among countless others. Perhaps at some point, there’ll be a revival of early 2000s fashions and culture that somehow facilitate a reawakening of interest in generic tech house and I’ll be re-discovered. But a time will come when it will be as though I never programmed a single beat, and no one ever listens to my music again. How many musicians from the 1930s are known today? In fact, my name sounds like I am a musician from the 1930s, and barely anybody knows who I am now.
Maybe productions like mine will be viewed as some kind of amateur folk art. Collections of old USBs, packed full of obscure underground house and electronica will elicit a vague murmur of recognition from older audience members on the Antiques Roadshow Moon Edition, whilst a robot incarnation of Fiona Bruce says that there was so much of this sort of thing produced that it is virtually valueless, although a charming conversation piece nonetheless.
Previous revivalist cults like Northern Soul or Rare Groove eventually stalled because they ran out of rare records to rediscover, a fate that seems unlikely for any retro-scene of the future. Instead, whoever decides to revive “Organic House and Melodic Techno from around 2020, before it went commercial yeh?” may have so many tunes they’ll never have to listen to the same track twice. Which may well be a blessing anyway.
All of which is a very roundabout way of saying that there are around 40,000 pieces of new music put up on Spotify every day, so if you’re making music, my advice would be to slow down the pace of your release schedule and stick to releasing only the very finest pieces of music you finish, the top one per cent. Only utterly brilliant, beautiful, stunning, sublime pieces of art should reach the release stage. You’ll be doing us all a massive favour as well as making it way more likely that you’ll get a mention on the History of UK House And Techno BTEC course too. You might even get a shout out from Robot Fiona Bruce – and if that isn’t motivation then sure, I’d love to hear your six-hour DAW-less modular ambient drone jam. Laterz.
Main photo by Frédéric Thiphagne
Original artwork by Kyle Platts
Harold Heath is on Twitter