Today morning, I was on the bus playing one of my Spotify playlists, and suddenly I had this urge to listen to ‘Masakali’. One of the cool things about Spotify is its extensive library, and sure enough, ‘Masakali’ came up in the search. But not the original version, this was from Mohit Chauhan’s unplugged sessions, and a brilliant live rendition it was. I began playing the complete Unplugged – Mohit Chauhan album, and by the time the acoustic version of ‘Dooba Dooba’ was underway, I thought I should tell people about it. Spotify, like any self-respecting application nowadays, allows you to tweet about what you’re listening to and I did, accompanying it with a handy link. Of course, none of the people in India could access it. And then I had to google for “mohit chauhan unplugged 320” which brought me to a handy download link that I could share. (That’s a hint for you, in case you want to listen to something and torrents are not handy at the moment)
And they wonder why people pirate. Seriously, what does a guy have to do in order to share music? Send Youtube links, sure. And if I can do that, why not anything else? What, in this day and age, explains the stupidity of disallowing applications from working in certain countries? Fuck you, music companies, I am not asking for free music. All I need is a way to painlessly recommend music and listen to music others are recommending without having to jump through hoops. You are not “restricting” anything, you are just adding an extra step to whatever it is I have to do. The logic and economics of this escapes me.
Paying for Spotify has removed the need to (illegally) download – and manage – a huge library of music. I do not need to carry my external HD around. The app really has everything, or close to it. Sure, not all of Rahman, but I am discovering a shitload of new music every day and I don’t need to worry about storage. Or even being on a network all the time, because the handy “offline” feature just downloads the songs to the phone. Something like this was long over-due, because I am still not happy with 99 cent downloads. I do not need to own or store all of the music I have, just be able to listen to it where and when I want.
Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to another of these questions that do not really matter to anyone but me. You see, I use Last.fm fairly extensively. Not the radio station, but the site’s excellent mechanism of storing scrobbles. It gives me a neat way to keep a record of what I am listening to and to track this data historically. I therefore get a little anal about tagging tracks properly. [aside: Fucking piracy sites. Every one of these sites have serious ego issues about proving ownership. So the artiste-name becomes “www.downloadmeh.com” or whatever the site is, so does the album-name. WHY? Isn’t it enough to just sign the comments section of the ID3 tag, fellas? This means I have to spend time cleaning up the tags before I listen to the songs, because I really do not want to know that I am listening to a track called ‘songs.pk – songs.pk – Hawa Hawa(songs.pk)’.]
With Indian film music, however, we have a problem.
Take any film track. You have the composer, the artiste and the lyricist. Whose name should go onto the <Artiste> field? Sure, I put in the name of the singers, but I lose the information that this is an AR Rahman song I am listening to, unless Rahman is singing the song himself. This also adds a peculiar kind of chaos, where we have no fixed way of noting different artistes in a track. For example:
- Sukhwindara Singh/Sapna Awasthi – Chaiyya Chaiyya
- Sukhwindara Singh, Sapna Awasthi – Chaiyya Chaiyya
- Sukhwindara Singh & Sapna Awasthi – Chaiyya Chaiyya
Which one of the above do you use? Currently, last.fm treats all of these as different artistes and not as individual artistes separated by a symbol. Like I said, this screws up the historical scrobble data in a bad way. Not only are every one of these differently worded artiste names treated differently, there’s no correlation between this track and one sung by Sukhwindara Singh by himself, or with some other singer. Sure, I could just replace the singer name with AR Rahman, but what happens if I want to know who the singer is? The only solution I could come up with is to rename the track as – AR Rahman – Chaiyya Chaiyya (feat Sukhwindara Singh & Sapna Awasthi), but that adds to the title of the song, which is pretty stupid once we get into songs involving 4 singers or more. Let’s not even get into the confusion that arises from Indian singers changing names every other year for numerological efficiency. As of right now, I have no idea if Sonu Nigam is called Sonu, Sonuu, Nigam or Nigamm. Or if he has dropped a vowel or two.
You know what we need? Standards, that’s what we need.