And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #232: Noel Gallagher v Coffee

By | Published on Friday 14 November 2014

Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher is really angry about coffee. Because people will happily buy coffee, but often they’re less willing to buy his albums. Imagine!

Speaking to Noisey, the former Oasis guitarist said: “It infuriates me that people are more willing to sit in a coffee shop and spend a tenner on two coffees, talking about the weather with their friends, and that coffee will last 45 minutes, yet they will physically get angry at you for asking them to buy an album for a tenner that will last a lifetime and might tell you about yourself and might even change your life. It’s a strange moment we’re in where people are willing to spend money on shit”.

I’m not sure where Noel is going to buy his coffee, but if it’s costing him a fiver per cup, he’s getting ripped off. And his new album is £8.99 if you pre-order it on iTunes at the moment. So the economics of this argument are way out.

But comparing music and coffee is something people do on a regular basis and it never gets any less stupid. Stop comparing music and coffee. They are different things.

For starters, in Noel’s imagined situation, two friends sit down and talk for 45 minutes while drinking ludicrously expensive coffee. If they’re happy to pay that much for coffee, they’re probably both utter bastards, but at least they’re maintaining a friendship.

And while I’ll quite happily spend a certain percentage of my time sitting all on my own listening to music, sometimes I like to go outside and engage with the people I call ‘friends’. So the coffee isn’t really the thing here, the coffee buying is merely what allows me to sit somewhere warm and dry while I have a conversation. There might even be music playing in the background.

But that’s not actually the comparison people usually make. Usually, when people make this comparison, they say something more simple like, “Oh, you know, the thing is that nowadays people are happy to pay £2.50 for a cup of coffee on their way to work, but they won’t spend 99p on a download from iTunes”.

Now, even if you bought my critique of Noel’s specific scenario, you might now be sitting there thinking “that is a good point, people do spend money on coffee without thinking about it'”. But you are wrong. It is not a good point. How are these two things similar? They aren’t similar. We buy each of them for entirely different reasons. In different places. And we get entirely different things out of them.

Coffee is more like live music, if anything. It’s made right in front of you and the effect you get from it is an instant back and forth between you and it. A coffee seller might reasonably ask why people are willing to pay £50 or more to see a concert that might be disappointing when for £2.30 they can get a cup of coffee which they can be reasonably certain will be made to a high standard. Except that wouldn’t be a reasonable thing to muse, because like all comparisons of coffee and music, it’s fucking stupid.

Anyway, sorry, this wasn’t really about Noel Gallagher. It was more about me. Beef Of The Week #231 is more Andy Malt v ‘people who think that comparing music to coffee is a good idea’. I just want you to know that if you are one of those people, then you are on my list with those who still insist on saying “digital downloads”. I hate you.