A tale of two (Music) websites and why using Bandcamp wins

By • Apr 2nd, 2013 • Category: Music


I started writing this on Facebook while waiting for the servers to reboot/verify (overnight power outage) and then thought I would pop it here instead.

Let’s start with some background (get comfy this is a bumpy ride)

Every month FolkCast, put out a podcast that arrives in my MP3 player and provides 2 hours of interesting folk music, some old stuff and some new.  Folkcast is run by Phil Widdows and Ken Nicol (who’s website exhibits some of the very issues we will be covering later) This is mainly about the new stuff and one #hit and one #fail.

Lets start with the hit. The theme for the show was “Spring Into May: A Seasonal Special Music and poetry for the Spring to early Summer, from Easter to the Merry Merry Month of May.”  I would suggest that you click on the link and you can have the show playing in background – who knows what you will find.


NC_beachAbout 5 tracks into the show was “The Hit”” was Neil Cousin and his song “Oh For The Spring” (that’s it below)

I followed the link on the Folkcast website  and found myself at Neil’s  Bandcamp site.  A quick sampling (or 2 or 3 or lots) and it was a no-brainer to slip him the 5 quid and get the album (as FLAC – insert audio snobbery here).

So, 2 days to check it out,  a painless fiver via Paypal and a 15 minute download. Deal is done. (My PC automatically uploaded it to my phone and tablet so it’s there for me to check out on the tram to work in the morning)

And as added bonus Neil had already responded to the tweets I left and he seems to be a really nice dude. (I love Twitter)

This is how music works for me in the 21st century. Podcasts replace radio’s curation function (except for 3RRR and that is a whole other story) and they do it better, friends recommend stuff via Twitter (follow @dubber or @solobasssteve. It’s rare for a day to go by and them not to mention something new) and then there is the joy of seeing who else a performer is listening to and following up their lists.


What about the miss I hear you ask, well a dozen or so tracks later (Folkcast is a 2 hour show remember) was a track by a band called Magicfolk.

Same deal – tasty guitar, I follow their link and end up at their website.

I spot “listen” in the side menu and was taken to a page that had a good selection of material, including the song I was looking for (Green Man  for those of you playing along at home).

And here is where the wheels all fall off.

ALL the tracks listed on the page are 30 second samples. Yep, and to add insult to injury – it wasn’t even the 30 secs with the guitar bit that caught my attention. #megafail.

I rummage around and sadly this is as good as it gets, I head to Twitter (of course I do) and here I run into the next problem.

Their twitter and Facebook links are only on the contact page in their entire website (oops just spotted another brace of links at the bottom of the News page).  So I send off a tweet and suddenly realise that they haven’t actually used it since Feb. Somehow I don’t see me getting a tweet back any time soon.

I could go to their Facebook page (which I subsequently did) and it hadn’t been touched for ages either, but wait it has a “Listen” button on it. BUT that takes you to “the new MySpace” and the same 30 sec samples, except none of the new stuff is there.

By now I have lost interest, the Folkcast podcast has over 20 tracks and there is some other great stuff to be followed up. There is a killer Steeleye track that I had never heard, and in a later tweet Phil told me that it was from a Live 2009 album Steeleye did, and yes it too has tasty guitar… but you already had guessed that 🙂

The End

Let me start with I am not “picking on” Magicfolk, they are just the latest in a long line of performers who go out of their way to make it near impossible for me to hear their music. Ken Nicol’s website has the same problem. I can’t hear the tracks before I whack down the money.  On the plus side there are some great YouTube videos.

Over half the acts that I follow up in the UK folk scene have exactly the same website issues. You can’t hear the music – go figure.  You are in the business of selling music. But you don’t want any one to hear it – the bad guys might steal it. The punters might get something for nothing. And so on. I have heard this argument time and time again.

Let’s look at  an alternative, Steve Lawson, plays solo bass (and if you thought English folk was obscure – Steve wins hands down in the esoterica stakes).

Lets have a listen to him here  This is his album Grace and Gratitude.


Now Steve let’s you hear and share all his music.  You never have to give him a cent. But people do (I am one of them – hint buy the “everything” USB stick). I have chatted with Steve on twitter, he is a generous and inspiring soul.  Through Steve I have found Emily Baker, Lobelia, Mike Outram, Neil Alexander, Daniel Berkman and a cast of hundreds.

Do I like everything he suggests? Hell no. BUT do I give everything he points out a listen? You betcha.

Is he successful? Go onto twitter or his website and ask him. I think he is.

What I heard on the podcast was interesting enough to make me jump through the Magicfolk  hoops. BUT the experience (i.e. no music) has left the fiver firmly in my Paypal wallet.

This was also cross posted on thatchspace.


is fascinated by guitars, music, guitars, production, silly noises, guitars and used to be a musician. Did I mention the thing about the guitars?
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