The music industry is currently buzzing with controversy over the actions of a London band who chose to make a statement about the current state of the industry. The Pocket Gods recently released their 72nd album of their 17-year music career.
100×30 by The Pocket Gods and Friends is not only yet another step in the cult indie band’s career, it is also the first time in history that an album of 100 songs has been released, not to mention that every song is only 30 seconds long.
Why pursue such an odd goal for an album? Mark Christopher Lee, the front-man of The Pocket Gods, describes the real goal as “trying to make a point about how messed up the music industry is at the moment”.
The album is dedicated to making a statement about the way that streaming services like Spotify mistreat musicians. “It’s an important subject and it would be great to get enough pressure to force Spotify and the others to change the way they are paying artists and songwriters,” said Lee.
The idea for the album came from Lee after he read an article in The Independent about why songs are typically written to be three minutes long. The article concluded that the reason for such a length was due to the vinyl record medium of the old days of music. However, the article also suggested that songs today might as well adapt to the current medium of the industry.
“Spotify and others pay out a royalty for a track once it hits 30 seconds and then no more – so why write longer songs,” said Lee. “After reading the article in The Independent, I went to see my manager in Soho, London for drinks and told him this is what I was doing next – I started writing songs on the train on the way home. I also decided to make all songs to be about some aspect of the music industry such as BBC, Soundcloud, Spotify, etc.”
Thus far, the attempts by Lee and The Pocket Gods seem to be working as planned. Many in the music industry have been discussing the album and its topic with various opinions. Most, however, seem to be in agreement with the statement.
“The album has been going really well – lots of press and fans,” said Lee. “It has been far more than I hoped for – national press in the UK, where the album has been seen as pivotal in the death of the three minute pop song and also in Billboard in the US, who saw it as some genius, out-of-the-box thinking. It has also been picked up in Europe and a lot of our Spotify streams of the album are actually from the home of Spotify in Sweden!”
Surprisingly, it is not only the fans of the innovative indie band and critics of streaming who are pleased with what The Pocket Gods has done with the album. Even Spotify itself has nothing bad to say about 100×30.
“I have had a meeting with Spotify and they are not going to take it down since it plays by the rules,” said Lee. “They were trying to shift the focus saying that YouTube and Google are the big guys and we should be targeting them. Yes, there is change coming. There is a class action that was just filed in the US against Spotify — where they claim there is a secret bank account with millions of unpaid royalties in it. It’s like in the past you always had a physical product like an LP or CD or tape — and with that there was always an audit trail – now in the digital age how do we know what the streaming companies tell us is real… it’s all electronic/digital there is nothing of substance to put your hands on and trace back.”
Although most of the talk about the album has been focused on its message and purpose, it is also worth noting that almost anyone would be able to find a song on the album that they can appreciate. It features songs from almost every genre of music and discusses many different topics related to the music industry as it is today. Ranging from psychedelia to country and everything in between, 100×30 is a fun listen which also provokes critical thoughts on the music industry of today which most would admit they have supported.
With 100×30 well underway, The Pocket Gods are now looking to their next venture: recording a song for their next album with Canada’s legendary Star Trek veteran, William Shatner.
Those interested in learning more about 100×30 by The Pocket Gods and Friends or listening to the songs can check out the dedicated website, 100×30.com