Pop Music Activism

Screenshot of the Pop Music Activism web site

Have you ever been frustrated that some older music isn’t available on digital platforms like Spotify or iTunes? You’re not alone, and Pop Music Activism is trying to do something about it.

There are several reasons why music is missing from these platforms, and indeed there’s a list of the common ones. A lot of dance music from the 1990s and 2000s is missing, and this is often because songs were released by different labels in different countries. It wasn’t until the late 2000s that Spotify came along.

For some artists and bands, you may find their albums there, but not their singles. So remixes and b-sides are harder to come by. Or you may find that the song you want appears in a web search, but when you follow the link, it’s been geo-blocked.

This is where Pop Music Activism comes in. They track down who has the rights, and politely badger them to get the music online. And it works – the home page of the web site has hundreds of releases that are now available to legally stream and download. There have been some particular successes, such Things That Go Bump In The Night by *allStars, which after becoming available again appeared in lots of Hallowe’en playlists and has clocked up over 4 million streams on Spotify. Whilst Spotify pays a fraction of a penny per stream, it’s more than the nothing that these songs were earning before, due them not legally being available anywhere.

If you want to keep track of what ‘new’ old songs become available, you can follow them on Twitter/X. Usually, there’s something new each week on a Friday. It’s about the only reason I still occasionally log into Twitter nowadays. There’s also a monthly email list which I’m on, but can’t seem to find the subscribe link.

Disney Minus

A screenshot of our Disney + account setting showing it cancelled.

Last week, we cancelled Disney+. Our annual subscription was due to renew, and at over £100 for the year, we could no longer justify it.

We’ve had a subscription ever since Disney+ launched in the UK, in the early days of lockdown in 2020. In fact, before then we had a subscription to DisneyLife, which was Disney’s UK-only streaming service for video and music, and used to cost £5 per month. Over time, Disney+ has got better, especially now that content from 20th Century Fox is on there.

But we just don’t watch enough of it. When we signed up to Disney+, there was only one price tier at £7.99 per month or £79 per year. Whilst that was more expensive than DisneyLife, there was more content available so it was worth it. Now there are three price tiers, and the most expensive is £10.99 per month, or £109 per year. That’s more than double what we were paying just five years ago. Whilst there is once again a £5 per month tier, it’s with adverts, and we don’t want those.

Like many kids, our eight-year-old seems to just want to watch YouTube Kids now. It’s something we’ve tried to resist for years, but apparently watching home-made videos and Minecraft walk-throughs is far more interesting than the professionally-produced content that we were paying for. We’ll keep paying for Netflix, as you can download content onto an iPad to watch offline. We tend to clip our eight-year-old’s iPad into a stand fixed to the back of the front passenger seat for long car journeys.

We’ve had Amazon Prime in the past, shared using Amazon Household with another family member, but we don’t have this now. Again, it’s getting more expensive, and we’d rather avoid the adverts. And whilst we’ve had free trials of Apple TV+ and Now TV, we’ve never paid for these beyond the trial period. We also don’t pay for a TV package, and just have Freeview and Freesat for live television.

I guess we’ll just re-subscribe to these from time-to-time when there’s something we actually want to watch.

I do find it odd comparing streaming video with streaming music. There’s a handful of music streaming services – Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Deezer and so forth – and for the most part, they all have the same music. Yet with streaming video services, most shows are on one or two at best, and many or exclusive to one service.