Monday, November 16, 2009

The Music Industry

I just downloaded Harvey Danger’s third studio album Little by Little… – for free – off of their website, and it got me reading their explanation as to why they were doing it and it brought up some thoughts from back when Minutes to Midnight by Linkin Park got leaked before its release. So now it begs the question, is the music industry surviving the holocaust of sales that is peer-to-peer music sharing?

More realistically, are our beloved musical artists now depending on and grasping tighter onto live concerts and guest-appearances to compensate for lost numbers, as opposed to what they release to Compact Disc where the sales should be coming from? Logically, judging from the considerable difference in cost between walking into an entertainment venue and walking into a record store, I would assume that the most money has always come from live entertainment, I mean when The Beatles were around, they did shows for Queen Elizabeth II, but does this advancement into the future have musicians breaking a sweat about ticket sales in lieu of record sales?

The downloading of music is illegal, yet socially acceptable, but only because it wouldn’t be easy enforcing that law. I download…everything. Let’s put it this way, my music library is nearing two thousand songs, my physical CD rack has fifteen albums on it; yes, I am quite ashamed. To my defence though, most of the albums on that rack were initially downloaded and listened to but were then subsequently bought by me in the act of support years later. So when Harvey Danger said that ‘plenty of music lovers in the world will buy a record once they’ve heard it’, I am semi-righteous in that sense, and who knows, one day I may walk into a store and decide to grab a copy of Little by Little… or Day & Age by The Killers or any other album that I downloaded and loved in the same act of donation when I was buying the other albums, but let’s just say that I don’t, am I, and everyone else who has done this, crippling what is essentially people’s careers? Record sale figures aren’t exactly the most full-proof way of finding out; they differ from album-to-album for all types of reasons. However, it would seem that each time a big artist is bringing out an album in a week’s time, it gets leaked onto the internet and it is quite easy to find someone that possesses a music library much like mine, which is a clear enough indication to me that this is a growing problem, I might even go as far to say that most of the people with an internet connection has some sort of illegal collection of tracks. In that light, kudos to those that spend their change on iTunes music cards and such, but that springs some more thoughts.

I love the effect that technology has on our lives, but on music, not so much. Paid downloading is something that I refuse to contribute to. It seems to be the way the industry is dealing with illegal downloads, which in part, I have contributed to such a change, but it’s probably the only part of technology that I am not so happy with. When I pay for music, sure the tracks are what I want, but it’s also that physical element, the experience even - waiting months and months, finally walking into the record store to see the same album cover you’ve seen in your dreams sitting five-times on the shelf, holding that case with that name on it, flipping through that booklet with those people in it with art that those same people created, the album logo filling that empty space on your CD rack; the click of a link just doesn’t have that same effect on me, unfortunately. You see, some people may say that this is thinking far down the track, but the existence of things like the iTunes music store and the fact that I can no longer walk into a JB Hi-Fi and purchase a music single indicates to me that this ball has already begun rolling.

“Whether or not people will buy something they can get for free is obviously a big question, and there are facts and figures to support both sides of the argument.” This is why I ask these questions. I don’t believe that people will ever stop making music, but as time progresses, will what we call the music industry further age until it no longer has any money value? I mean, the money means nothing to me, but if that time comes, will it mean that all of our rich pop stars will pack up shop (which would please me) or will it mean that even our good musicians will seem less prominent, not gone, but perhaps harder to find (which would please me less)? If that were to happen, then money would have a more considerable meaning to me. As well as this, in fifty years time, I don’t want clicking a link on an online music store to be the closest we can get to physically pulling out a booklet full of album art about the songs that I would be listening to at that exact moment, I want that slot filled on my CD rack, even if it’s filled on my media player too. I may be a serial-downloader, but for those bands that I am actually willing to empty my wallet out for, I don’t want MP3 to supersede the disc, just like CD did to vinyl. At the cause of what I have done and how technology helps us do what I have done, I fear for the music industry’s future.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you about buying tracks on online music stores. If im going to pay money for music I want to see that CD in my hands.

    The only times I've ever bought things off itunes was when i got a giftcard for free and choosing what I bought was a hard task. I sat there for days thinking about what track i wanted to have.
    OH and when I really REALLY loved certain music videos I bought them. Its harder to buy video clips physically and sure you can download them illegally but I want to contribute ^.^

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