Chime Out: The Nottingham Music Project Platforming Queer and Female Artists

Daria Paterek

From The Sugababes to Shostakovitch, Nottingham-based music commentary site Chime Out reviews music for fun, to be political, and just because they want to. Impact caught up with Mattie and Marie, the recent graduates behind the project, to put the music world to rights.

Chime Out is a recently launched music commentary website that aims to critique the music industry through a political lens. Mattie and Marie, the recent graduates behind the project, discuss problems within the music industry, future ambitions for the website and how consumers can help change the music industry for the better.

Interestingly, the development of Chime Out developed because of academia. Mattie reclaims how: “I did a module on music criticism which kickstarted my thinking about music critically.” Adopting a critical mindset towards music was the catalyst for the development of Chime Out. For Mattie, “writing essays at university wasn’t an outlet for that energy.” He continues thoughtfully: “A lot of my angst comes from the lack of accessibility and representation. The classical music scene doesn’t present itself accessibly. It focuses on the same narratives – which is only representing cis white people.”

“We’ve got females on stage. We have some POC artists. But it’s not where it needs to be.”

Marie also brings up issues with the music industry that encouraged the formation of the website. One problem is the environmental impact of the music industry, which listeners often are not aware of. While Marie highlighted that while “there were great discussions in academia, where it was quite widely known that streaming isn’t that great for the environment, many people are not aware of these issues. Marie also talked about the political issues within the music industry. “We’ve got females on stage. We have some POC artists. But it is not where it needs to be. Representation also stems from decision-making and the people off stage. The more diverse the music scene is, the more representative, and the more relevant it becomes.”

Chime Out are hoping to expand their reach and grow a safe and learning community. “We are hoping to attract people who want to learn more and engage with in-depth conversations, but academia feels a bit too serious and overintellectualized.” Instead, they want to generate more in-depth conversations in funny and engaging ways. Most importantly, they do not want their audience to develop the idea that “our word is the gospel.”

Initially, Marie recalls, Chime Out started as “a music review website, but we’re a music and commentary website now.” This change was prompted by the desire to continue writing from their perspective and not have to censor themselves when expressing their opinions. Marie believes this change is “quite freeing” since Chime Out continues to be “accessible but authentic.” We want to reach people who want those conversations,” Marie explains, “and who don’t think of music that way.” Marie recalls an experience where someone disagreed with her over one of the articles. “I occasionally get the email where someone disagrees with me. It started a long email chain of discussion, but I enjoyed it” she laughs.

Marie and Mattie’s also have many future ambitions for Chime Out. Upon reading their articles, Mattie hopes that the audience will: “take away is that their voice doesn’t feel insignificant in comparison to mine.” He continues: “We want to create a community where everyone can contribute. Just because you don’t have academic proficiency in music doesn’t mean you can’t engage. If you contribute to the culture you should be heard.”

“If you only listen to the Top 40, and no local artists, you aren’t engaging with music to the fullest extent.”

Increasing their social media reach is Mattie and Marie’s main future ambition. Mattie voices that he wants to create TikTok’s and Instagram reals as well as podcasts: “We want to convey ourselves in an unedited way and create more engaged discussion.” While the pandemic staggered Chime Out’s engagement with the local music scene, Marie looks positively at the future. “As well as expanding the digital side, we want to have in real life gigs. We want to support local artists and be able to do it in person and build a community.”

In discussing the issues within the music industry, Mattie and Marie’s outline steps consumers can take to reduce and challenge issues such as marginalisation and lack of representation in the music industry. Mattie comments: “The easiest way is to look at who you listen to. If all the people you listen to are all white, cis, and straight, you can grow and expand.” Yet changing these issues is also about engaging with local artists.

Mattie continues thoughtfully: “If you only listen to top 40, and no local artists, you aren’t engaging with music to the fullest extent. If you invest in your local community, change comes quicker.” Marie follows that up with other ways you can change the music scene. “Consider buying an album from a smaller artist rather than streaming. Buying an album gives the artist more revenue. Yet I fully recognise that is not always possible to do, especially for students.”

One of the biggest issues in the music industry, which Chime Out has posted about on their Instagram, is the low pay artists receive from streaming platforms. Marie explains how you can help support artists: “Use platforms such as Bandcamp, which prompt you to buy a song if you listen to it a lot. When you use a streaming platform, pay a premium since artists receive a bigger chunk of revenue. Do what you have the means too.”

“Don’t be afraid to call people out. Email Spotify, tweet them, sign petitions.”

“Awareness is the first step,” Mattie adds, whilst Marie summarises the main things you can do to help artists receive liveable wages: “Don’t be afraid to call people out. Email Spotify, tweet them, sign petitions. There is an enquiry going on in parliament into low pay on streaming platforms. Don’t be afraid to be proactive.”

Daria Paterek

Featured image courtesy of Michelle Ding via Unsplash. In-article image courtesy of Ehimetalor Akhere via Unsplash. In-article image courtesy of Jonas Leupe via Unsplash. Image use license found here. No changes made to these images.

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