Your 50 Favorite Roots Music Albums of 2018

Thanks - - always an interesting read for me (a year-end-list-lover).  There's usually a fair amount of overlap with my own year-end list and the ND Readers list, but here's a few quick notes contrasting the two this year:

 - 4 of my top 10 are not anywhere on ND's list (6 String Drag; Mike and the Moonpies; Ruston Kelly; Rhett Miller);

 - just 2 of my top 10 appear in ND's top 10 (Tweedy & Musgraves);

 - my #1 is ND's #27 (Ike Reilly)

 -  we matched #7's; and

 - I'm a big Dylan fan and I love 'Blood On the Tracks', but never got around to picking up the Bootleg.

I agree with you regarding 6 String Drag.  I bought their latest cd when they rolled through D.C.  Great show and really good disc!  

No problems with John Prine being up there.  Really good album.

6 String Drag has a new album out. Thanks.

I remember watching them at a few clubs in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area some 25 years ago. Had no idea they were still going strong. 

Kenny Roby (frontman for 6 String Drag) has released several solo albums you might want to check out.

I've got a few of Roby's solo albums (Mercury's Blues/Rather Not Know/Mercy Filter).  Of those three, I like Mercury's Blues the best (fave songs being the title track, and "Ace, My Radio & Baseball", but it's solid thruout).


Also, hope the whole No Dep crew and everybody here is enjoying a fine Holiday Season!

Thank you.  I will check them out.

Musically, the decade from '85-'95 was a great time to live in NC. 

Mandolin Orange, Hiss Golden Messenger, Megafaun, Phil Cook, Mipso, Chatham County Line, Yarn, American Aquarium, Iron & Wine, Branford Marsalis, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mount Moriah, The Rosebuds, Superchunk, Tift Merritt, The Mountain Goats, etc.

I would argue it still is. 

Agreed.  It's not LA, NOLA, roots music central Nashville, or Austin yet but a heck of a lot of good acts, festivals, and clubs.  Asheville area and Research Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) becoming music hotbeds requiring an annual visit by most roots acts.

To add to list Mel Melton and Wicked Mojos, Bob Margolin (blues), Toubab Krewe (Mali rock) , Kruger Brothers, musician and public TV music show host David Holt, Harris Brothers, Malpass Brothers, Joe Newberry, Red Clay Ramblers, New Reveille (roots rock), Avett Brothers, Rhiannon Giddens, Six String Drag.   

Yes! As you expand outside of the triangle the list gets even longer. I love living in a place where music, and especially roots music / Americana is so highly valued. 

And Chip Robinson/The Backsliders, Chris Stamey, John Howie Jr. and Dexter Romweber.......

What Garry said -- always an interesting read. Also similarly, my top 6 were nowhere to be found on the Top 50 list: Perry Keyes*, Becky Warren, Phil Cook, Brian Fallon, Kyle Craft, and Hawks & Doves. Just shows how much interesting and appealing roots-related music there is out there. Thanks for compiling!

* Perry Keyes' Jim Salmon's Lament was my #1, and it didn't make the ballot. (I lobbied for it but failed to compel.) Brilliant songwriting and a sound that combines Springsteen, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, and Keyes' country mate Paul Kelly--in other words, a who's who of ace rockers/roots rockers of a Certain Age--tempered with a touch of Philly and Detroit soul. Keyes' record is a lot like Becky Warren's Undesirable: both consist of street-level stories expertly told, albeit one set is from Sydney and the other from Nashville.

So, so happy to see Michael Nesmith & The First National Band Redux's "Live at the Troubadour" make the list at #16.

It's Nesmith's finest recording and the best band he's ever fronted.  The fact that Nez collapsed during a tour this past Summer and had to be rushed into emergency heart bypass surgery just days before the release of the CD and album overshadowed its release and resulted in the recording getting lost in the shuffle except by hardcore fans. 

I hope that oversight is corrected now and folks hear this wonderful album.  Hey No to send you a copy so you can review this fine work and maybe do a story.  Michael Nesmith is now healthy as a horse and his muse is on fire!  2019's going to be an incredible year with some amazing projects in store...

Springsteen's Broadway was released on 12/14 the day voting closed.  Hmm.......loyal fans voted on without listening?  I wonder how many of those votes came from "verified purchase" listeners.

And while I'm on the subject, I watched Springsteen on Broadway, and those monologues? He needs an editor. If you want good storytelling go see Todd Snider. 

Snider and Steve Goodman are probably the best I have ever seen...Goodman had no peer...

Good points made R....



Hey ND-

Would it be possible to put up actual vote numbers?  Are we talking hundreds, thousands of votes?  Did Florence and the Machine get 5 votes or 500 or 5000?  

I vote that you don’t post the numbers. We already know that it’ll sway heavy at the top and light on the bottom. Bad enough that we rank the results, no need to give us the gory details. 

That was kind of my point. I want to see the car wreck.  And how did Springsteen get so many votes for an album that was released the day the voting closed? Why was it on the Top 50 list rather than an artist (#51 for example) that actually released an album before the voting closed?

He got votes because he was on the list, not necessarily because 10,000 people heard it. I mean really, you’ve heard all those songs a million times so if you’re a fan he’ll just get your vote for being Bruce. And there is nothing in this poll or any other that require a verifiable purchase. So seventies, Mr. Mutt.  

62 not 70. Show some respect please.

Hmmm...that's too bad, maybe there should be a check box for "purchased" or "listened to". For what it's worth, I only vote for albums I actually own (and love, of course). 


I agree!

Today I’d say my two favorites this year in either order were Prine and Hiatt. And maybe of what I heard this year my favorite song was Prine’s “When I Get To Heaven”.

I love that Nathaniel Rateliff record, he was new to me this year.

The more I listened to the Dave Alvin/Jimmie Dale Gilmore record, which is quite good, the more I want to hear Dave’s next record of original material. 


I keep trying to get into the Rateliff record but it just doesn’t connect for me. Maybe I just need to wait a little more to let it get through. Saw him do a song with Prine a couple weeks ago and he sounded much mellower than on his album. 

And speaking of Dave, where has John Doe gone off to? 

Rateliff kinda snuck up on me. The song I’ll Be Damned is simple enough but catchy as hell with the horns and got in my head, got me listening harder to the rest. I think that’s one of his older songs retooled with a fleshed out arrangement. That’s how it went for me anyway.

The Flesheaters are back at it, Dave, John Doe, Bill Bateman, Chris D. and I forget who else are putting out a new record and touring. I have tickets to a show here in March, regrettably after buying them I found out I need to be out of town on business. 


That's good if they will put the Knitters back together??

I like, but don't love the Ratlieff record...I have played it 4-5 times...feel like I should like it more than I his voice, love what he's trying to do musically...I'm sure they'd be great live, like St. Paul/Broken Bones...I'm not nuts about their records either...good not great records, amazing live...Lake Street Dive is another one...incredible live...on record...just moments...

Couldn't agree more. I've not seen Lake Street Dive live but the other two are just sensational live, whereas the albums suffer hugely in comparison

I'll go!   :-)    

This list makes me think I go to the wrong website for my roots music. Paste Magazine's top 10 had 7 that were on my top 10. Only one of those, Alejandro Escovedo, made the top 10 and only 3 others even made the top 50: Dave & Jimmie, John Hiatt, and Boz Scaggs. Missing altogether are Bettye LaVette, Jimmy LaFave, Kevin Gordon, Kevin Welch, Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis, and Steve Forbert. There were a few on the top 10 that didn't quite make my top 10 like John Prine. I like his album but it hardly matches some of his past brillance or stood out as one of the best of the year.

Is there going to be a critics list this year.

There are reviewers and columnists who will offer their favorites for the year in some sort of format. 

I think the list is reflective of the 10,000 people who chose to respond. There are over 100,000 followers of the ND Facebook page alone, so it’s a rather small percentage. The poll has nothing to do with the content, columns, reviews or print journal. It’s just people sharing what they like, Dennis. I think it’s a good thing that it’s different than yours or mine. 

I get a weekly newsletter every Saturday from too. It has alerted me to a lot of acts I might have otherwise overlooked. It's a much smaller as far as viewership/readers. Just another valuable source of music information.



Thanks for the heads-up on I now have subscribed to its newsletter, too.

Although the readers' rankings differ from mine in some ways, I still think it's a good list. I've listened quite a bit to at least 30 of the albums, and five of the albums in my top 10 made it into the readers' top 10 (Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires, Alejandro Escovedo, Kacey Musgraves and Willie Nelson). 

Although two of my 10 choices did not make it into the Top 50 (Robbie Fulks, Cowboy Junkies), I'm most surprised -- and even disappointed -- that Courtney Marie Andrews is nowhere to be found. Her album is my favorite of the year. Two more of my 10 favorites (Jayhawks and I'm With Her) also made into the Top 50.


When I read thru the list, it appears a lot of people voted for artists not albums? I can't understand what Bob Dylan, Bruce Springstein or Paul McCartney are doing there ... are their albums really that good? I thought the site is about Roots music ... are Florence, Springstein and McCartney such; and Neko's last one or two albums don't feel like Roots music, and I thought Mumford and Sons moved away from that after their first album. However, I will use the list to try some albums I didn't buy, some from the top and other artists I like further down. As for my list, I'm trying to remember who I voted for - one or two albums have come in since because I chose to vote early. But at the time I looked at my 2018 album list and picked out my top 10, not in any particular order. The albums I bought in 2018 include NZ artists not listed so were not in the mix, the two NZ artists that were I didn't vote for. So I think my 10 were: Amy Rigby (The Old Guys) I think her best to date, Coco Connor (This Ol' War), Courtney Marie Andrews (May Your Kindness Remain) outstanding songs and voice, Dawn Landes (Meet Me At The River). Gwenifer Raymond (You Never Were Much of a Dancer) incredible instrumentalist, Larkin Poe (Venom and Faith) they could kick start a blues revival!, Lindi Ortega (Liberty), Lori McKenna (The Tree) incredible song writer, Mary Gauthier (Rifles and Roseary Beads), Sue Foley (The Ice Queen). So I ended up with 2 in the top 50! #15 and #40.

I like your list better than my own, which also included Lindi Ortega. Think I’ll check out some of your titles I’ve skipped or missed, so thanks for that. And yes, people sometimes vote for artists rather than albums and the ND readers lean more mainstream than I thought they would. 

Bingo! I  really liked 7 albums on the master list  and then checked Dylan, Springsteen and McCartney to round out my Top 10!

As long as the Springsteens/Dylans/McCartneys/etc continue to appear on the list of candidates, folks are going to vote for them (whether there should be some kind of a "roots purity test" for ND's album candidates list is a question for another day...heh) .  But I don't check out these kinds of lists (and maybe even more useful, the comments to such lists) for those kinds of artists - - I already know them and whether or not they get votes here is irrelevant to my enjoyment (or not) of their latest efforts.  I'm mostly on the look-out for good albums that I've either not given a fair chance (e.g. listen to 30" samples of each song and then move on; or listen thru an album once as background music while I'm distracted, etc), or to albums/artists I've missed entirely.  Two examples:  (1)  I've loved (as in top 10 faves) albums by the Great Unknowns, and Becky Warren, in the past, but this year I sampled her new album and it didn't "hit" me right off, so I moved on and it got lost in the shuffle; but seeing Becky's new one appear on some year-end lists (just in comments here, though) made me go back for another listen, and man...another fine album from her!  (2)  I saw a Perry Keyes 'Jim Salmon's Lament' mention in the comments here that made me curious so I checked him out even though I've never heard of him before, and yeah...good album!  It definitely has a 70s rock throwback vibe to it, and if you like that sort of feel in your music, you might also want to check out One Eleven Heavy's 'Everything's Better'; and the Sheepdogs' 'Changing Colours'.  Both are "Hon. Mentions" for me this year.  So anyway...what was my point?  Oh yeah, people will vote for who they wanna vote for in Readers polls, and name recognition/popularity always factors in.  So pick & choose wisely, and always check out the comments!

I think the Bob Dylan "More Blood, More Tracks" is probably excellent (I bought the single CD version but haven't spent much time with it), but it is an archival release with alternate takes of songs from a classic album that came out in '75, so I personally wouldn't have considered it.  I haven't spent any time with the new Paul McCartney album, but I can see how he, Bruce,  and someone like Elvis Costello can be "Americana friendly." 

I have to say, while I'm not surprised to see it on the list, I am surprised with Isbell's live album being as high as #2.  I've been an Isbell homer since my first listen of DBT's Decoration Day album and have pre-ordered every one of his solo albums.    I think his last three albums are great and deserve all the praise they get.    This new live album, which draws exclusively from those three albums, just doesn't feel essential to me.  Maybe if it had mixed in someone of his older songs, DBT songs or the covers that he often does, it would have felt more like the live Isbell/400 Unit concert experience (e.g., like Live in Alabama).

we are all different and that is about it - some of us dance and others don't - besides on something like this there is no data and i notice that many of these lists and such are just the opinions of the people in charge - and some of those are opinionated to the point of their way or the highway - 

i really liked the john prine, wood brothers (not even on the list) and john hiatt for what it is worth 

Was disappointed to see that the Whitey Morgan and Kieran Kane/Rayna Gellert albums (8 and 10 on my list) didn't crack the top 50. Also, while I didn't expect many people to be aware of the Mickey Stephens & Poor Blue release (my #9), I hope it gets some more attention going forward.

Agree with you on the Kieran Kane/ Rayna Gellert, which I bought a while back but just listened to recently...I have pretty much everything Kieran has ever done from the O'Kanes through the Dead Reckoning stuff...if his name is on it I buy it...

I pulled up something by Mickey Stephens and the Poor Blue just now..."Wasteground"...interesting stuff...not crazy about his voice but the music is really good...maybe the voice will grow on me...


I came to the Kane/Gellert album mostly via Rayna, including her work with Uncle Earl. Yeah, I've heard others have reservations about Stephens' voice. I actually like it, but mostly appreciate his melodies and storytelling. Stellar band too, though I think he's in the process of pulling together new people.

My favorite album this year was May Your Kindness Remain by Courtney Marie Andrews.  My favorite song is probably Two Cold Nights in Buffalo from the same album.  Like Gary Larson above, I was genuinely surprised that it didn't make the top 50.    She seemed to get a fair amount of roots music buzz this year, like getting an AMA Emerging Artist nomination and I've seen her in a couple of AmericanaFest promos.  I figured maybe she'd be in the 20's or so.  Two others selections of mine that I thought might make it but didn't were Brent Cobb's Providence Canyon  and Wild! Wild! Wild! by Robbie Fulks/Linda Gail Lewis.    Others that I really didn't expect to make it were Starfire by Caitlyn Smith, Jumping Over Rocks by Jamie Lin Wilson and Baby You Win by Cliff Westfall.

The ones on my list that did make the top 50 were albums by Richard Thompson, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, John Hiatt and Colter Wall, with John Hiatt being my highest appearing album at #14.

If it was 12 favorite albums, I think John Prine and Brandi Carlile would have made my list.   

We're like-minded, Jack!



We're like-minded, Jack!


We're like-minded, Jack!


I gotta share at least one video of Courtney Marie Andrews, who didn't appear on the Top 50; her 2018 album was one of my top 10. This is the title song of her album. The video shows her solo acoustic, but there are also excellent videos of her with her band. She's currently on a solo tour in the UK.

Lists are lists and are meant as discussion starters which it has sparked.   

My personal rule is not to vote on Live or bootleg albums because it isn’t new music released in the year.   My wife got to see the First National Band show though and said it was spectacular.     

I thank everyone who has contributed because I’ve picked up great suggestions that I missed so far.  I look forward to discovering more from your comments.

Even though Spotify tells me I listened to 27971 minutes of music through them in the past year, there still aren’t enough hours in the day for all the great music.   To save some time and for sampler purposes, let’s have the Cliff Notes version with great singles in the year.  

Some that stood out (on mighty fine albums) are The Rattle Within and The Storm Won’t Come from Richard Thompson, The Comeback Kid and Afraid of the Dark by Lindi Ortega, The Bottle Never Let Me Down by Sarah Shook, Juniper/The View by Red River Dialect, David Francey’s Poorer Then, One Trick Ponies by Kurt Vile, Kevin Gordon’s Saint on a Chain and way out of format – Make Me Feel by Janelle Monae who channels Prince without being derivative and is sexy without being crude.  

My song of the year isn’t even my favorite on the album - John Prine’s When I Get to Heaven.   It hit closest to home for me in 2018 and will be one of the things I most associate with the year.   I look foward to seeing him in Toronto in 2019.         

Happy Holidays everyone.    

It may not be new Roots Music, but personally, I thought Dylan’s “More Blood” the album of this or perhaps any other year, for me, the best of all The Bootleg Series. When one’s been waiting for over 42 years to finally get hold of this stuff, (various dodgy bootleg copies of certain songs not withstanding), it was simply the real deal, so much detail in there, and even now, a couple of months later, just can’t stop playing the thing. If only someone could now arrange something similar with Neil Young whilst we’re all still alive, that would be much appreciated.


Have to agree with Dennis regarding some of the missing albums, in particular Betty LaVette’s “Things Have Changed” and Jimmy LaFave’s “Peace Town”, I thought both were superb. Also worth a mention with LaFave in mind was Eliza Gilkyson’s “Secularia”, not her best album by a long way, but the duet with Jimmy on “Down By The Riverside” is quite outstanding.


Along with a few others here, also really surprised Courtney Marie Andrews “May Your Kindness Remain” made such little impact, for me, possibly the album of the year. Similarly, thought maybe Chris Smither’s “Call Me Lucky” would have made the top 50, I think his take on “Sitting On Top Of The World” is one of the very best versions I’ve ever heard.


Also, again from a purely personal viewpoint, I thought the John Prine, Willie Nelson (“Last Man Standing”), Rosanne Cash and Alvin/Gilmore albums were all placed too highly. I was surprised to see JP made no #1 with “Tree”, a very good record, but nowhere near as strong as some of his previous work. But again, I would have placed Ry Cooder and John Hiatt much further up that list, I thought RC’s “Prodigal Son” his best album since “Borderline” (1980).


All of this is highly subjective though, and very much one’s personal taste, I enjoyed reading all the previous comments, and some very valid points/opinions were made. For me, your magazine continues set to the standard for coverage of all of this type of music, (and there’s a lot of it out there!).


I second your comments on the albums Courtney Marie Andrews, Bettye LaVette, and Eliza Gilkyson. I didn't listen enough to the albums by LaFave, Smithers, Rosanne Cash, Alvin/Gilmore, and Hiatt to form a strong impression about them. On the other hand, I appreciated the albums by both Ry Cooder and Willie. 

For me, John Hiatt's "The Eclipse Sessions" is the one record from 2018 that I find myself playing over and over again.  I agree with those who have also saluted Richard Thompson's work - he's a vastly talented man with a significant amount of great music out there.

Other favorites this year: Gretchen Peters, "Dancing With The Beast"; The Wood Brothers, "One Drop Of Truth"; Kim Richey, "Edgeland"; and Lori McKenna, "The Tree."

One final note: If I were a PR person and could influence the rest of the world to discover one more artist, it would be Caroline Spence. 

If I'd waited a little before voting (some were still in the mail), Becky Warren (Undesirable) probably would have pushed out Dawn Landes (Meet Me at the River). Other 2018 albums I bought  were by: Amy Helm, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, Caitlin Canty, Carolina Story, Courtney Barnett, Cowboy Junkies, Dana Fuchs, Danielle Nicole, Eliza Gilkyson, Erika Wennerstrom, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, Holly Golightly, Janiva Magness, Joan Baez, Lake Street Dive, Laura Veirs, Lucinda Williams and Charles Lloyd, Marcia Ball, Marianne Faithfull, Martha Scanlan (late arrival - honourable mention), Neko Case, Rosanne Cash, Rosie and the Riveters, and  Sarah Shook and the Disarmers (honourable mention). I think the only NZ artists on the ND list were Marlon Williams and Tami Neilson (well Canadian really), I don't think Delany Davidson appeared on the list. Would be interested to hear comments about any of the above, noted some have already had some mentions. Note that ND is my go-to site for "alt country" and "nu folk". I sometimes feel it is a little light on blues music? Love scrolling thru the ND releases list. Thanks Mutt for the disturbing top 10 list, listening to sad country songs pales! The List


A fascinating list as usual, with some major disappointments, including:

1. Jiimmy Lafave and Pistol Annies not even in the top 50 list - you could easily swap these for two (and more) of the artists not even in the 'roots music' category, viz Paul McCartney, Florence and the Machine, Elvis Costello???

2. Gretchen Peters about 30 places too low - this was an outstanding record, well up there with her best

3. Lori McKenna too low as well, considering the extraordinary consistency in the quality of her albums.

A shout out, too, for Robby Hecht and Caroline Spence's EP. She is the most exciting new(ish) songwriter around and has now been signed to Rounder Records - brilliant! Have to agree with Ron Barry

Best New Music Releases of 2018

From Danny G. in South Carolina:

1.”Children of Paradise”: Willie Nile

2.”My American Dream”: Will Hoge

3.”Bit Logic”: The Bottle Rockets

4.”Things Change”: American Aquarium

5.”Rifles & Rosary Beads”: Mary Gauthier

6.”Poor Until Payday”: Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

7.”Venom & Faith”: Larkin Poe

8.”Town Burned Down”: Adam’s House Cat

9.”Campfire”: Kasey Chambers & The Fireside Disciples

10.”Karma For Cheap”: Aaron Lee Tasjan


I just noticed the readers' poll from Americana UK. It's a short list, with several runners-up for each category. The winners:

Best band -- Bennett Wilson Poole 

Best male artist -- Jason Isbell

Best female artist -- Courtney Marie Andrews

Best live act -- Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Best album -- "May Your Kindness Remain," Courtney Marie Andrews

Link to Americana UK article

Thanks for the UK link. It's a nice site with a large list of album reviews. It's been awhile since I've visited a UK site for music, I used to get the Maverick Mag a few years ago. I stopped getting it when the editor got into some politics I didn't agree with. I see this site is doing the same, though I don't disagree this time, I think the music sites should stick to their knitting. If an artist wishes to get involved in politics in their songs (and many do) that's fine, but ... . They call themselves Americana and that to me often conjures up music that is more acoustic and folk like, whereas Alt Country conjures up music that rocks a bit more and is a bit more punk, and obviously they overlap a lot. Given it is a UK site there is more UK, Irish and European albums in their review list. Somewhere else to browse.

Chagrined to say I don't have anything on this list--these days, I can't afford the luxury of buying everything I might like. How do folks stay on top of all the new stuff coming out? I will have to get the Prine and Tweedy albums, but everything I've read about Isbell's live album suggests it's a disappointment. I'm sure there a lot of other things here I would like.

>>I can't afford the luxury of buying everything I might like. How do folks stay on top of all the new stuff coming out?<<


Volunteer (maybe even DJ a show to air the music you enjoy) at your local college/noncommercial/community radio station that airs music, and then burn/download from the station's music library!

Y’all ever hear of something called Spotify and their free option? Or maybe the $9.99/month subscription from them or Apple? That’s how you can afford access to listening to pretty much everything. 

From "Upstate" by James Wood

"The authors say that very soon music will be like water, flowing freely through pipes and networks and plumbing, straight into people's homes. It'll be a fact of life, Like turning on the tap. You'll pay a flat fee for the right to turn on the tap. And that'll be that. The record companies, though, still want you to buy water in little expensive bottles-Perrier, Evian. Imagine trying to fill your bath with little bottles of Evian! That's how the big record companies are still thinking. But it's not the future. The future is the tap, not the little bottle of Evian. That's what the book is arguing."

Spotify is not for me, nor Prime Music. I have borrowed CDs from the library and ripped them to audio files, which feels slightly unethical, but there it is. I'm a CD and MP3 guy.

I the public radio thing.  It works!  I also use Napster/Rhapsody streaming for $10 per month primarily to figure out what to buy that I can load on to an iPad when I'm walking or doing busy work or driving (CarPlay).  I'm old enough to remember the days when our family  would go to a restaurant and I would beg my dad for a quarter to play  songs on a jukebox.  Now you can have your own jukebox of millions of songs for dirt cheap.


I don't know how much of it artists get, but I pay $10 a month to Spotify. And I get to choose and hear nearly everything I want. For 2018, after reading about an album in No Depression, American Songwriter, AllMusic, Rolling Stone, or somewhere else, I'd go to Spotify, search for it, and add it to a playlist. I play the music through Spotify apps on my computer, my TV/sound system, my smartphone, my car, my bedside radio, and another speaker gadget. I love it!


Spotify pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights. And the "holder" can be split among the record label, producers, artists, and songwriters.


Spotify pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights. And the "holder" can be split among the record label, producers, artists, and songwriters.

If I hear this argument against streaming one more time I’ll scream. Yes you’re right: the payment structure sucks for the creative people. But using your logic to not stream because of the inequality, I should (if I could afford it) buy clothes only guaranteed to be made by adults who get paid a fair wage. I should also turn off the electricity to support the candlemakers and start utilizing the local blacksmith. Listen...we can argue against industrialization and technology, but then we’d have no recorded music at all nor a website to discuss it. 

Couldn't agree more, I've been buying music, first vinyl, then CDs, and then the "re-mastered" CDs with bonus tracks etc and finally the "Limited Edition" Box Sets in a serious way since 1969. To mention just a few names, I don't think I owe Dylan, Neil Young, The Dead, Van Morrison, Joni and Springsteen anything, so if I choose to stream or download some music now because it's cheaper for me, then so be it. Incidentally, the last album I bought was Neil's "Songs For Judy" on CD from Amazon UK a few days back, £9-99, (there are some artists where one just has to have the "real thing". However, I just can't keep up with all the Dead/Garcia re-issues and live stuff, much as I'd like to! 

I don't argue against streaming--just that I'd never do it because I don't want to receive music that way. I don't want songs by an artist but their whole creative unit as released in an album. And I want the cd as a physical unit with the tracks listed and the information about it there for me to read like who wrote and plays on it and, hopefully, the lyrics. I don't want to have to download that information and try to keep track of it somewhere. In other words I refuse to join the collective and experience music the way the powers that be want us to now consume it because it's easiier for them and enough people are willing to consume it that way.

Now that’s a fair and clear choice you’re making Dennis. But also consider the materials and energy being used to manufacture and distribute your physical products. And albums are hardly a palette designed by musicians; they are a commercial vehicle invented by Columbia Records to extract more money back when it used to be one hit song and nine throwaways. 

You're probably right Ed that "albums are hardly a palette designed by musicians" but it used to be after we got past the "one hit song and nine throwaways" like it was when peopele released singles as the main product. Now we have gone backwards to songs instead of the collection of songs that make a statement. But I think old artists that created through that medium still tend to and new artists that appreciated that medium may still wish to create like that. My only complaint with streamers like yourself is that it has helped kill the album as an art form but if that's how you prefer to get your music--to each his own. The materials and energy that's used to make a tangible product also provides jobs.


Thank you. This is what I'm saying.

>>Yes you’re right: the payment structure sucks for the creative people. <<


But acknowledge the (huge) central problem with streaming (the pay structure sucks for the creative folks who actually create the product), and then you blow right past it.   To me, the entire argument begins, and ENDS, with "the pay structure sucks".    Just like Congress eventually stepped in to enact laws that required greedy, recalcitrant employers to pay workers a minimum wage, something similar should be worked out to protect creative folks who sell their wares to the public.  If that means that Spotify (and the like) has to charge $50/month for streaming in order to pay a fair "wage" to the artists, then so be it.  And if Spotify won't do it voluntarily, laws could be fashioned to compel them, just like laws eventually compelled recalcitrant employers to pay a living wage to workers.   Folks who want to stream and can afford it will pay the $50/month (or whatever), and the rest of us can go back to CDs/Tapes/vinyl, or advertiser-supported radio (or streams) that seemingly did a better job of rewarding the creative folks (not always, of course).  This isn't really a "technology marches on" situation like autos usurping the horse & buggy, it's simply an outright failure of the pay structure. 


What if it was policemen, or teachers, etc, who were paid by such a "pay structure"?  If teachers, for example, were told "you get one dollar each year for every child you successfully teach math (or history/English/whatever) to".  And then the teachers were expected to sell "World's Greatest Teacher" T-shirts; give public speeches (i.e performances); and hawk other educational paraphenalia to be able to really "make a living at it".   Would you just say "wow...that pay structure sucks" and then move on?  Creative folks are in a different "zone" when it comes to how they make a living, and legitimate arguments could be made that longtime commercially popular acts like the Beatles or Stones who have already made their money many times over might be put into a different category.  But something could be done to re-balance the scales between newer & less-wealthy artists & bands who aren't getting a fair shake and are struggling, while the Spotifys of the world profit off their work.


:::stepping down off my soapbox:::



It’s a good soap box to be on. 

Here’s the thing, I blow past the creative pay scale because I don’t have a ready made solution for it. Maybe a streaming service should be $50 per month; I’d be willing to pay that. Or perhaps the government could offer a grant or stipend to help subsidize cost of living for creative folks. And maybe health care could be free, so that artists and musicians and poets don’t have to take ‘day jobs’ at Walmart just to get benefits. And so it goes: ifs and maybes. 

I certainly don’t expect the defunct government to fix it, nor do I think the major corporations are too concerned that musicians can’t make a buck unless they perform. It’s a conundrum of how this plays out but you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You’ve gone from being ripped off at $15 per album to a free ‘rip the artist off model’ to a monetized one price all you can eat buffet. We are in the world of the Jetsons, where everything is on demand and at your fingertips. Somebody will eventually figure out the compensation, but I probably won’t be here to see it.  


This discussion went on for a long time on the old ND a few years ago and was never resolved.  I have to agree with Easy Ed on this one. Before I started streaming I would buy a couple of individual songs from iTunes for 99 cents when I did not want a whole album.  Before that it was buying the whole album used on Amazon.  In either case, little or no compensation went to the artist.  If I were to use the $15 new album route, I would buy a lot less music so many musicians would still get little or nothing.  The compromise I have come up with is to buy a CD or other merchandise from the merch table at a roots music show.  My impression is that these sales, as well as a share of the gate, is what keeps a lot of artists going and that is a reason they are willing to meet you at the table after the show.  If I go to a concert of a wealthy rock musician I will skip the purchases and just go to iTunes or streaming to listen.  A final point is that some artists have the iTunes purchase option as the only option on their website.  I agree that artist compensation is important and wish there were options to satisfy everyone.

Well I certainly don't want to hear you scream, although I am intrigued (is it a mannish howl raging against the darkness or that of an excited young girl on Christmas morn?)   I think the better analogy would be what if I went to the soup kitchen because it was free instead of buying groceries? Starving artist, homeless-makes no difference to me!

<http> output/audio  [SCREAM] <repeat> <ND> html 

But then again if I hear this argument against screaming one more time I’ll stream.

Another analogy is listening to a live concert from outside an outdoor arena or a club with loud music coming through open doors to avoid the ticket price.  I used to do this but now pay to go inside (and buy a CD to two) if its a roots music artist of the ilk favored in ND but not for a major rock act.  I've "heard" the Stones a couple of times this way. 

For folks who live in or near a major metro area with plenty of music venues one way to help the type of roots artists featured in ND is to pass up the expensive rock act in the local arena or glamorous "performing arts center" and use the money to go to 3-5 club shows for about the same outlay.  In the clubs you can eventually find a spot right next to the stage, holler out a request if given the opportunity, ask a band member for the setlist when the show ends, and meet the band at the merchandise table when you buy a CD.  In our region we have a beautiful modern concert hall seating 2,700 with $75 ticket prices.  Never been.

Another option that I need to push myself on is to go head and go to a roots music show that you are not totally sure you will like.  Many times you will be pleasantly surprised, help out the act financially, and add to the size of the audience (artists respond well to an enthusiastic packed house). A lot of times the concert will be different and better than what you previewed on YouTube. 

Agree with you 100% Dave.  The last stadium show I saw was U2 at Soldier Field during the Pop Mart show 1997.  Loved it, but nothing compares to getting nailed by a great band hitting on all cylinders in a small club. For instance, Webb Wilder tonight. The interstate is fine but the interesting stuff is invariably on county backroads.  

Leaving the streamers  out of this, if you do buy albums buy 6 albums by those small club artists rather than the 14th 6 disc bootleg box with 7 versions of the same song that you might, might, maybe, listen to one time all the way through. That is the shit you should stream! But okay, to be honest I was hoping to get that Bob set for Christmas (with a gift receipt).

And don't get me started on $400 tickets for Springsteen or Hamilton (think tulip bulb craze in the Dutch Golden Age).

Support local music and those touring bands that play the smaller venues.

Agreed on Springsteen, Hamilton.  No performance is worth that much.  I think I paid over $50 one time as a spousal concession for a Three Tenors show.  At least I got a good nap.

Best deals are the roots music festivals such as Merlefest, Bristol Roots, Delfest, etc. where you can see 12 hours or more of music for $30 to $70 per day.

I was at a Rhiannon Giddens show where she told the audience streaming services really don't help her and encouraged us to buy our merchandise there and then, at the concert. So I did. Granted, I'm a fan and I knew I would probably like whatever I bought. But when it comes to the artists whose work I love best, I try to do right by them. 

It is not possible to buy everything. You go to the lolly shop, make a good choice (hopefully), and so be it. In the future (hopefully for the artists) you go to one of your go-to libraries, get a loan of a song or album and pay a small amount to the artist and library (each time the artist clips the ticket). If you wish to buy then the artist and library charge is higher. The artist in both cases always clips the ticket, if the library wishes to put a ceiling on it's own (monthly charge) then so be it, but the artist always clips the ticket. I see a pink elephant flying across the sky, but one must hope. We need those artists, they help keep us sane (in all the insanity) and hopefully send a message to those who rule the roost. (Oops - sorry for the politics, but times seem a bit grim.)

I usually take a roll of pennies to a concert. If I get a chance to chat with the artist I tell them I didn't buy their CD but I streamed the album.  A penny/spin is quite generous. It is amazing what a few pennies will do for a starving artist!

Damn. I thought I'd listened to a lot of records this year, but reading the list and the comments I now have a list of around 30 to check out... thanks for the suggestions everyone