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I know this might come over as a bit ungrateful, but I’m really hacked off by the way copies of albums are distributed by some promotion companies. I know it’s 2014 and I won’t be flown Business Class to LA while hoovering the gross national product of Colombia up my nose to interview the latest semi-literate rock wannabe, but surely it’s not unreasonable to want decent sound quality on album review copies. For anyone who’s even slightly involved with the music business (or any creative industry) it’s obvious that it’s incredibly difficult to make a living out of creativity these days; we all understand that. This isn’t nostalgia for a golden era when music journalists were worshipped and every artist’s ability was recognised and they were rewarded accordingly; it’s always been a business dominated by the need to cash in as quickly as possible, dominated by pond life who would sell their grannies for a Snickers bar, and you can find the evidence in virtually every music biography. You might not like the robust methods of Peter Grant, but at least Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones saw some financial rewards from Led Zeppelin.

So where was I? Oh yeah, promotion copies. I know margins are tight and it’s difficult to quantify the benefits from sending out physical review copies, but there has to be a better way than transferring a bunch of MP3 files. I always prefer something that pops through the letterbox rather than into the inbox, but that’s not just me being old-fashioned. With a physical copy, you get the writer credits, possibly the lyrics and, if you’re really lucky, some sleeve notes from the artist; with an electronic copy you get a press release (if you’re lucky), maybe a photo and a few hyperlinks. I don’t mind doing a bit of research but if you’re reviewing a really new band, chances are that the website looks good but tells you zilch and the only other stuff you can find is YouTube “videos” filmed on the singer’s friend’s phone; it’s not helpful. I don’t even mind getting back to the promotion or PR company to request more information, but I have a piece of advice for you. It doesn’t matter how clearly you think you’ve worded your request, it will take at least three more attempts to actually get the information you need from the intern who’s been delegated the task of dealing with incoming email. And just bear in mind that you’re trying to get the review out before the release date.

And you know who’s to blame, don’t you. We all are, because we’ve all bought in to the hype about digital music reproduction and then compression of file sizes so we can carry our music collections around in our pockets. I’ve got nothing against portable media players as first line of defence on public transport, but how much of that stuff do you actually listen to? I bet you have songs on playlists that you skip every time they play. What’s that all about? So, now we all accept compressed formats that work for the industry because they don’t have any overheads like retail and physical storage space to worry about and they can keep copies of everything that’s ever been digitised, unless the artist refuses to play ball (take a bow the surviving members of Pink Floyd), and nothing is ever out of stock or deleted. There’s an added bonus; you don’t get patronised by a shop assistant when you buy something that’s even remotely commercial and you can have great fun trying to work out which algorithm recommended Ed Sheeran and One Republic for you. And because the transactions are all electronic, its’ easy to record sales and streams for chart purposes. A friend of mine got to 298 on the singles chart because a couple of people were heard whistling his song at a bus stop.

Seriously though, a physical review copy would be great; some of us can even play vinyl but CD’s still ok (and it fits through the letterbox), but an electronic copy isn’t the end of the world if it’s in an uncompressed format. It takes slightly longer to download, but it’s a better quality than its compressed and stunted sibling and, as a bonus, you could send an electronic press release and a jpeg of the artwork. See, it’s not really that difficult, is it?