The 405 Records Club follows Ben from Lazy Acre Records as he pontificates on random things and then presents a new free mp3 every week.
So I finally took the plunge. After months of sneaking sly glances and a lot of internet based "in private" browsing, I've finally succumbed to my fetish and bought an ipad. The fact that I bought an ipad the week ipad2 hits the shelves is not mere coincidence. Indeed its exactly the bargain-ously priced offer that finally broke my will and saw me parting with cash this week and clutching a large rectangular box under my arm as I headed back to the car.   Now its not for me to sit here and lecture you about exactly why iPad currently holds a place in my heart marked "officially the best gadget I've ever owned sweet baby jesus" (TM) but rest assured amongst the chaos of this week I have been a blur of app installing, configuring and generally having something of geekfest. The thing it did re-emphasise to me though is just how short the attention span is of large sections of the general population is these days.   Time was that just listening to music on your phone or looking at pictures on your ipod was the height of technology and represented something of a major technological milestone and yet now here I am with something about the size of a book that acts as an all in one bookstore, reader, ipod, movie theatre, reference tool, gaming centre and more besides. How the fuck is all this possible!?   Taking my awestruck consumer hat off for a moment though and replacing it with my cynical beard stroking label manager hat, something struck me earlier this evening that actually made my head spin. In buying into the technology (both financially and ideologically) what I’m doing is adding my weight (along with all of the other awestruck consumers) to the advancement of technology which makes keeping on top of my work easier and yet at the same time makes my bigger picture immeasurably harder.   See when I started working in music some eight years or so ago there were music magazines, radio stations and a few websites who had an audience sufficient that it warranted servicing with music. Just keeping on top of these outlets when it came to servicing new records and getting them heard / featured was hard enough. Fast forward a few years and there were the same guys (minus a few casualties on the magazine front - RIP Plan B, Logo et al) but now the music mags all had expanded websites with a dozen blog writers each, radio stations offer expanded web content and on top of that we had the birth of the blog. Thousands of the little blighters all over the bloody internet and these guys all want records and email and time and free stuff as well. Suddenly there are thousands and thousands of more places to be servicing music to to try and spread the word of the artists you are working with.   The trouble is however that all of these outlets on paper serve an awesome purpose and each warrant and deserve their own special time in your working week. Except the result of this is that the audience per site is going to be a much smaller percentage of the total audience. and as a result of that the reach and ultimately worth of that coverage becomes a diminishing return for the time spent chasing that review down.   Now lets be clear here - I am the first person to defend bloggers and their place in the system. Bloggers are the most important cheerleaders and supporters that any indie label could every wish for. When I begin to work records they are the first people that get to hear it from me and I count myself an immensely lucky person to have the support of as many wonderful bloggers as I do.   The point I'm getting to is that with dozens of new apps launching every day the time people normally spend browsing online or whatever is populated with an ever bewildering array of choices not just for their app game of choice but how they check out new music, when, where, for how long, on what app. It goes on. I've spent so much time this week in the rare hour a day of peace and quiet checking out the content in the New York Times app and the BBC app and a dozen other news and media apps I haven't had time to check out any of the blogs or webzines I normally do. Sound familiar? I'm sure it must be too many and it leaves me scratching my head a little as to how (without the budget to develop nor massive audience to sustain / justify a dedicated label app - before you say it smart arses) best to try and capitalise on the technology.   At the moment the conclusion I find myself at is that maybe I leave the super geeky fun stuff in my spare time and concentrate on the things we do well and do them better. At the very least maybe peoples constant connection to twitter and facebook through these devices will give them more opportunity / time to check out the blogs and facebook messages and tweets that go out each day.   For now though a band that definitely has had my attention this week is Cat Matador.   Matador are (I believe) an Oxford based band and there’s certainly shades of some of the cities musical fore-bearers on the tracks from the bands new EP - a smidge of Foals here, a dash of Youthmovies intricate guitar work there. Its an intriguing blend and one that actually took me a few listens to properly get my head around - like an iridescent colour that looks different each time you look back at it the songs almost seem to morph into something else of itself as its going along. Add this to the fact that the guys seem sickeningly young (although the older I get the less my ability to judge age functions properly) and that a number of cornerstones of the Oxford scene have already been vocal in their support and it would seem that while the future might not be orange, its certainly bright for these kids.       It's an EP that I definitely recommend you check out at some point when you've finished playing Angry Birds (head by their website www.myspace.com/catmatador)) and one that in light of all the techno turmoil actually brings me to something of a heartening conclusion - that in the warm bosom of the 21st century silicon rush, if the music is interesting enough, that's more than enough to hook peoples attention and keep them interested above all else. A great song will grab you by the heart and the ears and still wont let go and no technology can do that or stop it.    For instance all I have to do to stop reading this column on the 405 app is click the home button here on the left hand oooh a free sat nav...