Markwin Meeuws is behind the virtual jukebox that’s been streaming progressive sounds since 2011.
Declining music sales still threaten our proggy world where artistry rules over easy wins. New means to disseminate niche music to a larger crowd have seen us go full circle, as we re-adopt the kind of practices that got Metallica’s Lars Ulrich so red-faced.
One such proponent of forward-thinking, if not somewhat controversial distribution is Dutch journalist Markwin Meeuws, founder of album streaming site Progstreaming. “The philosophy is that we give a short try-before-you-buy. As a reviewer, I’ve always wondered: shouldn’t people hear the work, instead of [just] reading about it?”
It’s a bold move. With music piracy never far from the headlines, and still purportedly damaging the US economy annually to the tune of $12.5 billion (£8 billion approx.), does Markwin think streaming, as opposed to illegal downloads, helps to counter it? “I think the pros outweigh the cons by a lot, and though I’m not the only one saying that – Bandcamp pretty much says the same thing in their FAQ – some labels disagree, and I’m fine with that.” He continues, “I can monitor the sales and clicks on the links and buttons, plus I often receive messages from bands [who have] noticed a rise in sales or attention, requests from other companies, and the like.”
If an album isn’t talked about, it doesn’t exist
Markwin’s collaborative approach sees him working closely with labels, allowing their artists to appear on his site for up to six weeks. He’s also a dedicated prog fan who adores Camel’s maligned The Single Factor, describing it as “an album I still love, no matter what people think about it.” It’s this marriage of passion and pragmatism that looks set to reform the increasingly untrustworthy face of streaming. “I think it’s all just one small world where we should support each other,” he adds.
For artists, the site presents an opportunity to tap into an eager and open-minded fanbase and Markwin is adamant that they should jump at the chance. “I don’t presume to hold all the answers,” he says, “but doing nothing isn’t a luxury prog rock bands have.
If an album isn’t talked about, it doesn’t exist.”