Thursday, June 9, 2011

Out of Step (With the World)

I don't download a lot of music.  Sure, I'll buy a song here and there on Amazon, but it's usually songs I already have on vinyl or cassette.  I guess I'm helping the artists since I know there are scads of "pirates" downloading their shit for free because, you know, musicians should just serve the people and not get paid for their efforts.  In that case, I don't mind paying for something I already have because it's usually only a buck, and I believe people should be compensated for their efforts.

This isn't about the ethics of stealing music, however, this is about the days of my youth.  In particularly, what it was like trying to find new music.

Before the Internet gave you everything from bestiality to revolution with the click of a mouse, if you wanted new music you had to search for it.  This wasn't easy for a true music lover, a person who wanted to go beyond what was on the radio and MTV (back when it played videos).  This meant going on an expedition where everything avenue was explored.

I spent countless hours talking to music store employees, friends who had the same taste in music I did, and going through interviews with the bands I liked hoping a name would be dropped.  Not only did I read the interviews, but I read the thank you lists on releases and looked at photos of the band hoping someone would be wearing a t-shirt I didn't recognize.  (How many people found out about the Misfits because Metallica wore the band's shirts?  Cee Lo wasn't the first to wear one, you know.)  I read 'zines and traded tapes through the mail.  This was how I found out about new music.  I lived in an area that didn't have good record stores.  I relied on outside sources for just about everything I liked.  It was a lot harder than jumping online, but there was also something more satisfying about it.  It made the music mean something to me.  It added a sense of wonder to everything.  It's not like that now.

The Internet is a double-edged sword when it comes to music.  More people around the world can hear your band, but look at what shit is still sought after.  It's the same garbage that polluted the airwaves before.  Those who truly love music will still go out of their way to seek out quality material, but most of what gets mentioned is Ok Go.  If it weren't for an "amusing" Youtube video would anyone care about this band?  Unlikely.  This is what the Internet has done.

The good music is still out there.  Finding it now, however, means you have to swim through a sea of crap to get to it.  You have to go onto crowded Myspace pages, click on questionable links, and scour forums. You can still find the stuff if you try, but it seems like part of the thrill is gone.  When something is so easily obtained, does it hold any value for the listener?  Sadly, I think not, which is another reason stealing music irritates me.  The music has become what the major labels have been trying to make it for years -- product.  A product to be stolen and disposed of as easily as a pair of threadbare socks.

Enjoy the crap.

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