These days, listening to music has never been easier. It’s on YouTube, it’s on Spotify, it’s on iTunes, it’s on Bandcamp – and a million other sites. Most songs now have a presence on the majority of these sites in some form. They often come with track previews, and you can often listen to the entire song there and then.
But things weren’t always like this. I remember coming across Juno Records in or around the year 2000. Back then, you could listen to 30 second previews of tracks online – but download speeds back then were extremely slow. Broadband was still a fair few years into the future. And depending on your phone line, downloading that 30 second preview could potentially take several minutes per track.
Let’s go back a few years further. All the way back to 1996, in fact. “Higher State Of Consciousness” by Wink first appeared on a Strictly Rhythm compilation back in 1994. It was released as a single in its own right the following year, with a new “Tweekin’ Acid Funk Mix”, as they’d called it.
In 1996, UK label Manifesto licensed the song and commissioned several new remixes by Dex & Jonesey, the Sharp Boys and Itty Bitty Boozy Woozy – an alias of the Klubbheads, who had a big hit out that year called “Klubbhopping”. And it was due for release on July 15th.
But how could you hear the new mix before its release? Why, you got on the phone and dialled this number…
I found this picture in an old folder on my laptop – unfortunately, I don’t know exactly where it was sourced from, but I understand it appeared in a number of music publications during that summer. And if you did decide to call? 39p per minute at the cheap rate and 49p at other times.
According to none other than my wife, who has worked in telecoms for far longer than she’d care to admit, the cheap rate was typically one which applied after around 6pm on weekdays and on the weekend. Meaning if there were a number of mixes to preview, someone somewhere made a nice bit of money out of it…
The Six On Saturday column returns next week.