Heat-seekers and adventurers on a totally different trip – this is why music is exciting

Music observers and commentators will look back to the days of old because, well, it’s easier to write about and comment on old stuff than new stuff

The 1916 Easter Rising won’t be the only anniversary receiving a rinsing in the coming months. As has become the norm, music observers and commentators will look back to the days of old because, well, it’s easier to write about and comment on old stuff than new stuff.

In the coming months, you can expect much type and hot air about the Spice Girls (it's 20 years since Wannabe introduced us to them), the Sex Pistols (40 years since Anarchy In the UK was released) and er, Razorlight (a decade since America was the best selling single in the UK for a week, which probably comes as news to you as well).

One album that definitely deserves a re-evaluation is DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. Twenty years ago, Josh Davis' ground-breaking album captured a sound that dug and dug up other sounds with great poise and aplomb.

A record of true significance and status, Endtroducing persuaded other heads to put the sound they heard in their heads out into the world.


But 2016 won’t be just about celebrating the past. Music has a momentum which is never in lockstep with what’s gone before. For all the revivalists and copycats without a decent burr of an idea between them, you have those heat-seekers and adventurers who are on a totally different trip.

Let’s hear it for these mavericks and the dreamers. They are the ones who really interest us, they are the ones who make us go on Soundcloud, YouTube and Spotify treasure hunts every day.

Memo to the masses: just because we like DJ Shadow's Endtroducing a lot doesn't mean we want someone else who sounds like DJ Shadow. We simply want someone who makes like Shadow and turns the game inside out and upside down.

Over on the music business beat, you can already predict that the stories which will make waves in 2016 will, more or less, be much the same stories which had traction in 2015. Change comes slowly in this bailiwick. Expect much jaw-jaw about streaming and other technological fare which will basically repeat all the blather which has gone before.

Expect too even more me-too services to move into the streaming space to try to build a business for themselves. But as Apple Music and Tidal discovered in 2015, it’s not as easy as it seems, especially when the numbers are still far from a tipping point.

Even with services with considerable reach like Spotify and YouTube, there just isn’t enough of a reason for your five-albums-a-year dude or mainstream music fan to pay €120 a year for the pleasure of ad-free music consumption.

And, much as I hate to bring this up, remember there’s inevitably going to be something else that comes after streaming, so when do we start thinking and talking about a post-Spotify world?

Meanwhile, over on the side of the house where the money allegedly is, the live music business sector will continue to do its thing. There are many questions and issues to be addressed here, but the will and urgency to do this does not exist.

As a result, there’s little or no scrutiny of the vested interests around the secondary ticketing market, the over-supply of festivals and the monopolies who control venues, tickets and, increasingly, acts. Perhaps it’s time that music business commentators paid as much attention to these boyos as they do to Tidal, Spotify and co?

Of course, we could be wrong. A story may well emerge from the hedgerows and ditches that no one sees coming which goes on to dominate the year. There could even be a new U2 album. As Drake and Future said, what a time to be alive.