9 Jul 2012

Is Music Dead?

I just read an interesting blog post on Etsy and its comments, about an article by an intern admitting she had never bought a CD and had thousands of songs in her Itunes account. Apparently this has created a shit storm. You've got the youth hating brigade there who will absolutely find a negative angle and use it to bash the yoofs of today, the struggling artist who may as well be holding a cup out on a street corner and the right ons who immediately will point out how they would NEVER do anything so vulgar as listen to music on a digital device.
The post raises the point that many people will choose fair trade coffees but steal music files. These are the same people that will not hesitate to complain if the server of the fair trade coffee didn't smile in the right way so they get that coffee for free. As consumers, and the 'entitled' population, we've allowed ourselves to want everything, quickly, and for as far below the retail price as possible.
I am a music lover.
I love good music.
Be it pop, pop indie, pop rock, pop punk, pop classics.
It's all pop music to me if people from more than 3 countries know who you're talking about.
People who still believe their music tastes are unique, or eclectic, or 'indie' are deluded or probably under 30. As you get older, you look at your Deus and Smog and Sigur Ros, not as a way to 'define' you as a person but simply a nice set of tunes that have probably seen you through (or caused?) a few bouts of depression in between the Abba and the ZZ Top. It generally means some suited marketing over qualified graduate somewhere in the head offices of a corporation, be it Myspace or EMI decided they were getting their investment back and made sure you wanted to hear this music. So you did. There's no magic to it. It's been a decade since I heard anything that made me want to copy the singers clothes or tattoos or hair colour, but that's a good thing as I approach 40.
I have wasted literally thousands of pounds on albums, because thats what the companies want you to do. With the advent of cds wiping out the EP format (which was generally all the good songs off an LP plus a couple of mixes and half the price, and better artwork) now there is the album, and the singles.
I bought an album after hearing a couple of songs, and mostly was disappointed. When album music is so different from the singles released, you can't help but feel cheated. I want my money back. Back to Black? 5 good songs. Hysteria? 5 good songs. Everything by All About Eve, ever? 3 good songs. Have em back, honest.I'd rather have the cash.
Not a popular view.
Some people still think if you LOVE music you must suffer a little with the shit songs because that shows how much you love the artist. Bollocks to that. It's music. It's a luxury. The price was always over inflated to compensate the zillions of people involved in the distribution. The savvy artist puts the work in with the tour and makes the millions endorsing products, writing good material for other people, being reliable, consistent and not just fucking around shoving coke up their noses and firing members of the band.
Or did you think talent equated riches?
If the record industry had shown anything approaching the genius they get paid for, they would have seen the wave of digital media coming and released DRM protected content, with embedded lyrics and videos or photos on memory sticks and MP3 players, and made the hardware sexy. It's the ease of use that makes the mp3 and 4 so appealing, not because its attractive, and so many of us music fans wanted the sexy black records, the sexy glinting steel and wood of a quality stereo, the artwork on an inner sleeve. Well it was when I was younger. Now I just want the song. I could care less what the band looks like, or how it makes me look as a consumer of it. Handel, who I listen to every day has been dead for a fair few years. The mp3 is the musical equivalent of a ready made sandwich. Quick, cheap, fills a gap but you wouldn't want it instead of a Sunday dinner. And thats because with the exception of Apple, the people who make the MP players aren't thinking about the people who are using them really.
As for the old record shop culture, yes, the 80s were great, I had hours to spend perusing the racks of new releases, only to end up buying some compilation from the bargain bin, courting the staff so they'd greet me as one of them, batting eyelashes under a floppy fringe at the guy who always seemed to be in there at the same time as me. Nice memories, but frankly, I'm over it and the judgement and the cliqueiness and the pretentiousness of it all, and if I am, you should be too.
So there.
I will buy albums if I like them and know there's a good chance I'll like more of it than not. For my 40th birthday its going to be me, a bottle of good champagne and the entire Rolling Stones back catalogue. I've devoutly refused to buy anything from them before, as I felt they were age inappropriate to a child of the 70s. Too predictable, but I'm really looking forward to it.
Not the handing over of hundreds of pounds though.
So, where do I stand on the file sharing versus legal distribution?
File sharing (full stop) is wrong.
It is wrong and against copyright laws.
It is morally wrong, and always a roulette game. These days. Do it enough, and your anti virus software will have a meltdown. There are legal sites where you pay a reasonable membership or fee per tune and you soon have a collection you NEVER have to fast forward.
All killer, no filler.

1 comment:

  1. Funny enough, i still buy cd's even though i do buy albums on itunes too. Some of the albums i want, itunes wouldnt touch with a bargepole, and some on itunes i can't get anywhere else, so it just depends how i'm feeling. I'm prob the only person i know who doesnt own one of the adele albums, and i've still got some 'proper' vinyl records that i still listen to and enjoy, and i'm happy about both of these things :)
    As always your post has made me have a train of thought i wasn't having a minute ago, so thanks for that, it's what keeps imagination fresh, and that's only because your writing's so good x x x


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