Investment options in music

My friend has improved at playing the guitar. Particularly during lockdown this year he has spent time learning, recording and sharing songs online. His repertoire has grown. An investment in his own musical skills which will pay off many times over.

His efforts got me thinking about investment in music. The result is a scattering of options in the form of a blog post. Here are a few random thoughts and discoveries from looking at investment options in music.

There’s a company called Hipgnosis which recently listed on the London Stock Exchange. It buys up music catalogues from artists or other owners with the view that the IP will retain its value and pay back the investment over time as the songs continue to sell. You can buy their shares on the LSE today.

In March 2008, Anchorage Capital Partners announced The Guitar Fund, a $100M fund investing in the rare and vintage guitar market, citing an average annual return of over 31%, according the ’42 Guitars’ tracking index. I would find these sorts of guitars impossible to let go of, and very stressful to keep with toddlers running around my house wielding weapons and generally destroying everything in their wake.

Music Memorabilia can also be a source of alternative investment income or growth if you have the time and the inclination. There is a market for almost anything touched by a rock star. Proof of the rock n roll connection is often the hard part. I have some signed pics of Clapton, Beach Boys, BB King and Aerosmith. Hopefully the signatures are all real. How would I ever find out?

How do you invest in music?

Music plus tech

As a teenager I used to think I would listen to my walkman for the rest of my life. It was so essential to me – the cassette tapes I had painstakingly curated, the stock of fresh AA-size batteries, the headphones I found in an airport in England. The ritual of plugging it all in and pushing play. It just didn’t get any better.

One day in my early 20s I found my dad’s LP collection and an old hifi setup. I heard classics like Otis Redding and Springsteen in such clarity and power. Besides the fidelity, there was the long beautiful process of choosing the record, cleaning it, playing one side through and flipping it over, reading the liner notes, poring over the album covers, adjusting the needle and the audio settings. A new ritual was born. My life changed.

Now in my 30s I have my iPhone and an Apple watch. New tech, new ritual. I can call up any song I want no matter where I am. The digital liner notes are getting better every day and the sheer convenience of Bluetooth and music on the go is changing my life again. Don’t even get me started on Spotify’s daily mix and discover weekly playlists. That revolution in curation is a topic for another post.

Older forms of technology can all still be used of course. And often they retain their original power even though the convenience factor is low. Vinyl has made a come back. Audiophiles also tout the benefits of CDs and cassettes. For me this means I now have an arsenal of ways to access the Music drug. The music is the constant, Platonic form while the tech revolves and morphs around it in a clumsy, circular dance.

Perhaps one day the headphones will be nothing more than chips in our brains. A neuralink device Elon Musk sells for a fee. What might a music listening ritual look like for this scenario?

I get comfort from the fact that the music never changes. Taste and quality may vary, but a song is a song no matter what. The catalogue keeps on growing, but the essential form and function of a song is set. It is information in the form of a sound wave being received by the brain. Only the tech for delivery varies.

Waste, tension, and music

The garden waste piles up each week in the corner of the property. Each time the gardener cuts the grass, sweeps up the leaves, or cuts down a branch he puts the waste into bags, and these bags pile up until a truck is organized to cart it off for composting. As the owner of the property this system can stress me out. Watching the relentless growing piles of waste sometimes feels like one of those awkward “white lie” situations – you know the one – you’ve told a little lie or made a transgression which is never confessed. The lie gets bigger and bigger, worse and worse until there is inevitably a release. Either you and your lie are found out, or you tell the truth. The pickup truck taking the waste away feels like eventually telling the truth.

Great music is just like my home’s waste management system. When a song is well written, a tension builds for the listener. The verse builds up to the chorus. The verse places bags of musical notes and dead ends in the corner of the listener’s head. Repeated phrases and hooks. A story in need of some resolution. Eventually the tension is too great and a switch to the chorus is like a clearing out of all the accumulated rubbish. The verse is the lie and the chorus is the truth.

This is most obvious for me in blues music. Think of Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man”. The verse is simple and repetitive to the point of ridicule. The harmonica’s five notes over and over moaning and groaning that Something huge is coming. Trust me he’s coming. Gypsy woman told my momma. Muddy is coming. Just now……Wait for it. It’s almost unbearable until Muddy grants us sweet relief with “But you know I’m here!” The chorus plays and all the rubbish in our mind is cleared away. Then the cycle starts again with verse 2. What a song.

Smelling in stereo

Although we often think of the word “stereo” relating to music, what it actually means is “relating to a three dimensional effect”. We smell in stereo.

From my great new book:

“Though humans’ nostrils are only about two centimeters apart, this is sufficient for people to detect slight differences in the concentration of a scent cloud, and thus provides information about the scent’s location and source.”

Humans can be trained to track scents like dogs, and when they do, they zig zag across the trail, just like dogs, chasing the higher chemical concentrations to the smell’s source.

It makes me think that Perfume and deodorant are to scent what headphones are to music – giving our brains close proximity to the pleasant sensations….and all of it in stereo.

It blows my mind how much we take our senses for granted. Smell, sound, touch – all of them have a huge impact on our enjoyment, health and peace of mind.

So says my new book, and who am I to argue with that? 😉

Happy Friday chimps.

Footage

I received a video yesterday from my dad. He was fronting a full on soul band. A blues brothers style suit on, he was singing on stage playing his Stratocaster next to my sister who played saxophone.

It made me think that not many families have such cool footage. It reminded me that my family roots are creative, bold, and musical.

It was such a great video to receive and I was so proud of them. Thanks dad.

Podcast ambitions

Today I am starting to work on a new series of podcasts for the blog.

This is a misleading statement because as yet I don’t know what it’ll be about, who will be on it or how many I will do.

Perhaps more accurate would be to say I am starting to think about starting to work on the podcast!

One idea is to use the blog itself as a resource, looking back over the most popular posts I have written and use them as a guide for podcast topics.

But like I say – still early days. So watch this space, and prime your ears in the meantime 🙂

Hifi and sacrifice

If you listen to music, you have chosen not to do something else. Sacrifice.

In western culture today the idea of sacrifice is often over dramatized. The words conjure up images of lambs slaughtered, pain, blood, sweat, tears. What is not often explained or acknowledged is how sacrifice happens every second of every day. It is fundamental to achieving anything. It is something we should get our heads around and I think it is something many of us deny exists.

With music and Hifi this means we must choose what to sacrifice in the quest for audio quality and listening. Perhaps we need to eat beans and water for a few weeks to afford those new speakers. Perhaps we choose to listen to an album rather than play sport or talk to our kids. You can have your listening room in the house, but you’ll need to give up on the big social lounge.

Everything is a sacrifice of some sort. And that is the dance we are all doing! 🐵🎧

De La ChimpWithCans

To those of you who don’t know, I’m a chimp who likes to listen to music while I write. The Bantam civilisation implanted a chip into my brain when they invaded Old Earth. The chip allows us animals to understand human language. While I still can’t talk with the humans (as some of the other animals are able to do) I can understand what they say. This means I have to listen to people as they quibble and argue all over the place. It also means that a huge back catalogue of human music is now accessible to me. A regular old chimp with modifications, I am now a blogger and a music junkie.

On the cans this morning is the De La Soul album from 2016. This is a wonderful sound. Beats to jump up and down to, guest appearances all over the place to make me screech and grin my wide chimpanzee grin. I love a good album and the fact that this was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign makes it even more satisfying for some reason.

Variety of voices from Usher to David Byrne keeps this album interesting. Lyrics and rhymes mixed with audio scenery give it depth.

A most pleasant listening experience for this chimp. Now it’s time for me to find some bananas for breakfast.