Impermanence matters

Written by Piers Cawley on

Cool URLs don’t change they say, and that’s true. You’ll always find my upcoming livestreams at, along with maybe one or two of the previous ones to catch up with. What you won’t find is the full three year archive of streams. Here’s why…

Back when lockdown started, for all we were both classed as ‘critically vulnerable’, we did pretty well. We had each other for company, the house is paid for, we have some private outdoor space, Doncaster Market remained open and I’d got a 25kg bag of flour. Life was… tolerable.

Except, as any musician will tell you, making music needs company. At least it does if you catch the magic that happens when a group of people are together making something beautiful. Which is why I started singing folk songs to the internet1 every Friday night.2 At first, I just sang into the dark to the two or three people who showed up in the text chat

Thank you all of you! You were awesome.

but I was still missing harmonies. So I worked out how to use Logic for live sound and did on the fly multitracking of chorus harmonies and that was great. Recently, I’ve switched to using Loopy Pro on my iPad3 and it’s been great – I can sing harmonies on far more songs now and I’ve started experimenting with fancier arrangements too.4

A key realisation came after a late night conversation with Squeezy John [Spiers] on Twitter about how a YouTube archive of performances can become a millstone around an artist’s neck. After all, if someone can catch a performance online from a couple of years ago, why would they pay to watch you doing it again? I don’t think most people think this way, but the life of a professional musician is marginal enough that it doesn’t take many to have an effect. So I started making the catch-up videos private after a week.

Or whenever I got round to it, if I’m honest

It was incredibly liberating. I stopped worrying too much about repeating myself every week – I always open with the same song, I usually close with one of about three songs, there’s a couple of staples that people seem to miss if I don’t sing them and if I fuck something up, it’s gone in a week and I can concentrate on doing better next time. My audience seem to be fine with it. If I do something particularly well, or something funny happens like my cat bringing the backdrop down on me

then I have the original video files, so I can edit and upload a high quality clip that I’m happy to leave available forever.

And it’s closer to the experience of music in person, too. Live music is a magical transient thing that lasts as long as the song and then it’s gone. Recordings are souvenirs, they can be delightful, but they simply can’t be the same as being in the moment.

It’s gone. I might sing it again next week, but just as you can’t cross the same river twice, that performance will be different. And that’s brilliant.

I’ll tell you what is permanent: the repeating Friday night entry in my diary that reads ‘Folk Stream.’ It doesn’t matter whether I’m streaming for 2 people and no tips or a busy room and £100+ in Ko-fi’s hat, singing to the internet never fails to lift my mood. It’s like I’ve made an appointment with joy.

  1. Catch me every Friday night at from 8pm UK Time. ↩︎

  2. I tried a few of the Zoom singarounds that sprang up, but for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, I found them far more stressful than just singing to the camer and interacting with an audience in text chat. The audio only Clubhouse ballad sessions that I started were way less stressy for me too. ↩︎

  3. And a fancy dual-USB audio interface that means I can capture Loopy’s audio really cleanly. Check out the iConnectivity AUDIO4c (affiliate link) if that’s a thing you might need. There are other dual-USB audio interfaces that are probably at least as good, but this is the one I’ve got experience of using. ↩︎

  4. Check out for an example. ↩︎

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