Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Music and the Internet

The relationship between music and the Internet is an interesting one. On one hand, with a small bit of know-how, it is easy to obtain pretty much anything that has been released that more then ten people know about, so this means more exposure to good music. (Still, I can't really say that, knowing the musical tastes of the masses is based around top 40 and other terrible mainstream bands, and maybe if they are extremely lucky, something like the Beach Boys or the Beatles.)

On the other hand, whilst maybe it isn't technically as such, it is still stealing, from the bands, the managers, the record companies. But I say, so?

Looking at them, they want Korn and Limp Bizkit

Alright, I don't feel taking money from the bands is right. But I've heard enough stories to know that artists basically get nothing from CD sales, it all goes to the bigwig companies. Maybe if you are a big name band with a few well-selling albums, you might get a good deal, but if you are Mr-or-Mrs-Nobody, you don't have a choice; it's either sign with us for next to nothing, or struggle to get people to listen to your music.

I can personally say without the Internet, I doubt I'd be anywhere near as interested or knowledgeable as music as I am. I was also there at the start of file sharing (spending 5 hours downloading Shaggy songs on Napster, brilliant!), and when I started to find and listen to *real* music, it helped me, whether it be through buying CDs on ebay, or downloading entire albums.

First and last mention of Shaggy ever on this blog, I promise

Yes, I did download entire albums, and still do, and this brings me to the hidden dark side of downloading a lot of music. Disregarding the legal implications, what about the musical ones? If you have access to any album you want, human nature dictates that you *will* download as much as possible. Which means you'll either listen to all of them once, and hence won't absorb them properly (that's usually 3-10 listens for me), or I won't get to all of them, and feel guilty. Either way, it wastes lots of time, without being able to appreciate the music to the extent I want to.

So now, if I download an album, which is rare, I might give it a listen once, and then go out and buy it, or at least put it on my wishlist. I don't listen to it again, because if I really enjoy it and listen a lot, why would I buy it? I might get sick of it, and I could buy something else I'd listen to more.

Another point is that with the exposure of sites such as rateyourmusic, allmusic and the like, there are simply too many good albums out there that we know about. My album wishlist was getting ridiculous, so I stopped using it; I like almost every genre of music, and if there is only 10 albums I need from every genre, that's still a ridiculous amount. But alas, that is another post.

Random thoughts:

  • I just came back from holiday, with six albums and one compilation from various genres. All have been good, but the one that's jumped out and surprised me has been Ornette Coleman's A Shape of Jazz to Come. It's the first 'avante-garde' jazz album, but it's really quite accessable, with a strong focus on the sounds of the sax and the clarinet. I listened to it for the second time whilst reading, and it really clicked with me.
  • As I'll probably detail at a later, I've been listening to a lot of folk music, and have discovered a modern traditional folkist I enjoy a lot. Her name is Julia Kotowski, she's from Cologne Germany, and records under the name Entertainment For the Braindead (approapriate name considering I'm a fan!). I found one of her albums through another blog, and it is 100% legal to download here, and I highly recommend you do so.

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