on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2017 14 Nov

ECM catalog now streaming

von: Brian Whistler Filed under: Blog | TB | 15 Comments

From the ECM website:


Over the past week we have begun the process of entering the world of streaming, and from November 17, the full ECM catalogue will be available to subscribers to services including Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Qobuz and Idagio. This simultaneous launch across the platforms – facilitated by a new digital distribution agreement with Universal Music – invites listeners to explore the wide range of music recorded by our artists in the course of nearly five decades of independent production.

Although ECM’s preferred mediums remain the CD and LP, the first priority is that the music should be heard. The physical catalogue and the original authorship are the crucial references for us: the complete ECM album with its artistic signature, best possible sound quality, sequence and dramaturgy intact, telling its story from beginning to end.

In recent years, ECM and the musicians have had to face unauthorized streaming of recordings via video web-sharing sites, plus piracy, bootlegs, and a proliferation of illegal download sites. It was important to make the catalogue accessible within a framework where copyrights are respected.

ECM Press Office
Munich, November 14, 2017


I have many thoughts about this and have expressed them on the FB ECM listener page, a passionate group that posts music and has lively discussions of all things ECM. This is a very divisive subject and a heated discussion is going on there right now. Here are a couple things I wrote:


I doubt the artists will see much in the way of revenues. I suppose they will be told it’s good exposure and I guess it could be argued that this venture will attract a wider audience. But I doubt most of these new listeners will buy anything if they can stream it. For most listeners today, streaming quality is acceptable to them: i.e. this IS the way they listen to music. For me however, I will get to audition things before I buy, by which I will be able to make more informed choices. I will still buy hard copies.

I was staying at an Airbnb not long ago and and my 30 something host listened to music on his iPhone. He placed it in a plastic coffee mug for what he considered to be „high fidelity“ sound. Either that or listened over his laptop speakers. He is not poor – it’s a choice. This is how many millennials listen to music.


… and this:


Maybe this is just succumbing to the inevitable; ECM was one of the last holdouts.

I do think we’re reaching the end of an era and it concerns me for several reasons. The irony is, while there’s never been an easier time for a middle-income person to own an audiophile (or at least near-audiophile system) most folks settle for way worse sound quality through compressed files and listening thru earbuds or shitty laptop speakers etc. Some of this is due to being low income (which is perfectly understandable), some ignorance, some convenience, and some of it is just simply being of a mindset of simply not caring.

That being said, most people, when given the opportunity to hear quality recordings over a decent system usually have a positive reaction, and are amazed to discover what they’ve been missing.

I do have a concern that eventually CDs will go out of production completely or will become such a niche thing that they will become cost prohibitive. There will of course be HD downloads, but as many passionate collectors know, downloads have zero collectible value, nor do they have any appeal as the „magical objects“ that CDs and LPs, with the artwork and the booklets, possess. I have dabbled in downloading hi def music, but the majority of my purchases are still CDs. As CDs go out of print, there will be a collectors market that will drive the price of out of print CDs even higher than it already is.

Of course there is the whole issue of artists getting paid for their work. As far as I’m concerned the $0.006 to $0.0084 cents an artist gets paid per stream is a total joke. I have friends, such as composer / performance artist Amy X Neuberg who actually get respectable plays, but even after some 43,000 plays she received a check for $1.27 or something like that (she posted the stats on FB). Yes, it’s all about touring these days, but setting up a tour is expensive and here in the states we only get to see most European artists once a decade, if we’re lucky.

Of course, it is better to post say, Spotify links, where the artist gets „something“ instead of YouTube links where the artist isn’t compensated, not even minutely. And there is also the revenue an artist gets when someone actually attends a concert by an artist they were exposed to on a streaming site. So there’s that …


I would love to hear any thoughts my fellow Manafonistas have on this controversial subject.

This entry was posted on Dienstag, 14. November 2017 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Lajla:

    „The first priority is that the music should be heard“.

    This is the message. I imagine, that Manfred Eicher doesn’t like streaming. He stands for quality. If you want to hear quality, you have to visit the Punktfestival. If you don’t have the time to go there nor into a recordstore, you start listening music through apple music, Spotify …

    I do not agree with the message. Music will be just consumed. A deep listening is not aimed. Why didn’t Eicher & friends think of a way to get their own streaming thing. Is it a question of money? Of technic? Concerning the earnings of the artists, I think that it has been always pretty hard for them to survive.

    I personally still like to go to recordstores, I buy CDs. I go to concerts.

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Freedom of choice.
    No regulation.
    Decision okay.
    Rarities can be found … if it is the w h o l e catalog :)
    A younger generation on discovery mode.

    Once upon a time I listened to midwave radio or transistor radio. No one will tell me the audio quality had been that high. Or a cheap battery fuelled cassette rekorder. Very cheap. I was living in a hotel with one cassette only, six weeks long, no high fidelity. Cheap rekorder. More Songs About Buildungs And Foot. Talking Heads A revelation. Every night.

    You can detect the quality of music – to a certain degree – on the most damaged or data reduced sources.

    Only remember the time of shitty grammophones … many listeners were sent to heaven by old scratchy opera voices …

    Take some Charlie Parker bootleg, real minor quality. Vinyl. A lot of hiss. Someone sitting in the fifth row recording. Bad recording. A creative act to detect the excellence of the music. But can be rewarding.

    Then there is the field of high resolution streaming. Excellent quality. Another option.

    The listening habits may change. So what?

    Cds and vinyl will not disappear. And we have enough soul food for five lifetimes.

    Would never get the blues over other people‘s mp3-happiness … may they love Spotify …

  3. Michael Engelbrecht:

    My wonderful new friend, Cameron Howe, she heard – you can see it on HALT AND CATCH FIRE, SEASON 1, loud punk and new wave, out of quite cheap ressources, it was a kind of background music to stimulate her creativity ….

    I know a lot of people in the high end business who are dumb as bread. Real shitheads. So there is – per se – no real hierarchy of creative / deep listening, and purely passive fast food for the ears …

  4. Jochen:

    Fully agree to Michaels statements (exept stealing my girlfriend Cameron) and, by the way: there is an addiction to somehow „moral“ standards you better get free from.

    Or like german philosopher Peter Sloterdijk mentioned: „Discourses don´t bring it“ …

  5. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Joey, we always find a way to our new second best friends.
    Question: Did you find interesting new characters in your life?

    Answer: Yes, two women. Corrie Coon and Mackenzie Davis.

  6. Brian Whistler:

    Sorry if I sounded elitist. It wasn’t my intention. I do think some sources such as punk and garage band stuff fare better in low bit rates. But hey, forget all the other stuff. I don’t really care how people listen to music. It’s their prerogative.

    But does this „addiction to a moral standard“ apply to streaming services ripping off artists? Is this too not worth considering?

  7. Michael Engelbrecht:

    If I would be an artist, in these days, it would be fine with me.
    Even on a low area of income … cd, vinyl, Spotify etc. – pas de probleme …

  8. Brian Whistler:

    I’m sure it works for Justin Bieber. As for the little guy, I guess you could say she/he has nothing to lose, so it probably doesn’t matter one way or the other.

  9. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Excuse me, who is Justin Bieber?

    Doesn‘t ring a bell, don‘t hear a sound, a song. I have to go to Spotify …

  10. Brian Whistler:

    Hehe, and by the way, I just bought my first ECM album that was brought to my attention thru Spotify. It’s Benedikt Jahnel’s Equlibrium. What an amzing album!

  11. Michael Engelbrecht:

    You see

    Where the devils work, the angels sing

    Or how did this old saying go ….

  12. Rosato:

    Since yesterday I made my first experiences with ECM streaming – NIK BÄRTSCH’S RONIN, STOA. Uncompressed via qobuz. At the time the complete ECM label isn’t yet available.

    Like every ’new thing‘ availability of the ECM catalog on streaming portals is ambivalent in many aspects. Should I complain the unreasonable low salary of the artists, it’s on me to buy the artist’s albums (no matter in which format).

    In former times, when I could afford only a few albums a year, these albums have been companions for a long time, without many rivals. Thus you deeply immerged into the sounds and structures. Streaming provides abundance. So I have to control myself not to drown. On the other hand I have the opportunity to discover more than ever. Travelling becomes easier …

  13. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Fine comment, really.

    A propos Qobuz, here some details…

  14. Brian Whistler:

    That was a fine comment, and my sentiments exactly at this point.

    In the 21st century, for music lovers such as ourselves, we are faced with an embarrassment of riches. I tend to fall in love with an album or an artist and listen deeply to that one record or artist, (sometimes almost to the exclusion of all others) for a long time. This is probably why I could never be a prolific reviewer like the great John Kelman, who is like a musical sponge. I am slow to absorb new music.

    So this idea of streaming the entire ECM catalog (including one presume, all those difficult to find OOP releases,) is like giving a kid unlimited access to a giant candy shop – it is at once exciting and overwhelming. And of course there are also the other 50 million or so recordings on there.

    Unfortunately Qubus is not available in the states. It would’ve been my streaming service of choice. As it is, I am getting set up to stream Tidal over the Oppo. Knowing myself as I do, in the end I will probably purchase more, not less CDs from ECM!

  15. uwe Meilchen:

Manafonistas | Impressum | Kontakt | Datenschutz