12 January 2011

A brief musical interlude

I know I usually blog about science and science communication, but since this is about technology, I feel legitimate in squeezing this in here.

I've recently read a couple of articles about the state of the music industry and the rise of digital music.

A transformed musical landscape -

State of the indy music industry looks rosy, so why all the doom-and-gloom about music?
 - Cory Doctorow (BoingBoing)

Given that only yesterday I was Skyping Spotify lists to a friend and sharing them on Facebook, I can't pretend I haven't bought into the whole digital music scene. But I still feel the same nostalgia as Manzoor about record shops.

After a particularly meagre pre-wedding Christmas this year, myself and Mr Hayley headed to Fopp in Bristol and, in about an hour, spent most of the money we had saved DIYing our Christmas presents. But wow, it felt good. I left the store triumphant with a stack of shiny new CDs and all the pleasure of combing through the lyrics and artwork to look forward to.

Three of the albums I bought were ones I'd previously downloaded (and paid for, I might add) - thus, the record industry is actually making more money out of me than pre-digital era. These were three albums that I'd grown to feel I needed on my shelf, in physical form, and not on a stark white CD burned in iTunes. I don't like flipping through a CD storage wallet. I like to be able to run my finger along the spines of my CDs, all neatly organised by genre on the shelf next to my sound system. (Call me a geek, but... well, I am.)

Don't get me wrong: I do use iTunes, MixCloud, Bandcamp, You Tube, Spotify and the rest - all the time. But the possibility that in the age of the iPod, we'll see the demise of the album is one thing that really does make me sad. As much as I've been enjoying arranging our favourite tracks into a four-hour long Spotify list for the aforementioned wedding (when I could have been organising flowers, photography, invitations... and about a hundred other things we haven't even started on yet), I also value the lesser known tracks on every record - they're all part of the journey.

That afternoon I rejoiced in slowly and carefully peeling the plastic wrapping and price labels off my new babies, and then scrutinising the photos, illustrations and credits in the artwork. This is all part of the ritual. It's just not the same waiting for a bunch of digital files to drop into your "purchased" folder. I've even been known to buy two physical copies of the same album - one for playing, one autographed and never played... until ten years later, when Mr Hayley went rummaging through my CD collection without my consent. Well, I can tell you, he didn't know what hit him when I discovered the (previously) unplayed version stuffed in his glove compartment.

Anyhow, I only meant to post those links, but it seems that when it comes to music I can get carried away. Have a read.

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