Monday, June 18

The MP3 Generation

There's almost no time spent on trying to get to know the music you eventually come to love.  It's so easy for people to just skim through any album on iTunes and say, I like this one, I don't like that one, this is good, this didn't do it for me etc.  Not that this is precise, but you'd have to estimate that people who do this must be spending a few minutes max flicking through an LP to find tracks they liked and just buying those.  I suppose this is all good and well, but I can't help but feel you miss out on a lot of music this way.  Growing up, buying albums on CD and vinyl, I can remember numerous times skipping tracks on LP's at first, only to come back to them later and find that it's grown on me, or my tastes have developed more, or even that I just didn't give it chance first time around.

It's a shame that in this day and age, the younger generation that buy music to fill up their MP3 players had no 'formal training' and are probably gonna miss out on some amazing music.  I suppose I just have to be thankful that never happens to me.


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the music buying model has shifted this way, but one might argue that people could just as easily fire up the iTunes store to click through tracks they previously didn't purchase and buy them at a later date (yes, I'd say it's unlikely, but hey - Devil's advocate and all that). What I don't like is that when people pick and choose from an album, they can end up getting the tracks out of context, so all the time and effort you put in to order and flow of an album is lost, and the album doesn't feel like so much of an art form anymore.

Things have changed for sure, and so despite there being people like you who prefer to do things the way they know from way back - the younger generation these days consume music in different ways and perhaps part of the hard work involved in marketing your music (if you chose to do so) is finding a way to target this mentality, as opposed to just brand it as a lack of 'formal training'.

Presumably the older generation have something similar, where they had even less access to music, and find it mind boggling that we had so much choice in genres or styles growing up. They might argue that you had to select your vinyl even more carefully than CDs since it was perhaps harder to find, store and take care of.

I'm not sure I have a real point to make here - but I worry a lot of people cast off the younger generation as needing things too quickly or requiring that instant fix. Problem is - there's not much can be done about that mentality, it's just how to better cater for it, since I feel a lot of younger people perhaps don't know any better, and sadly, that's not going to improve.

Goody said...

I'll admit that when i first discovered the 'autonomic' scene and found yours and consequences albums, i found them quite difficult to listen to all the way through. mainly because it was a sound i was unfamiliar with, but using the 'tactic' of listening to tunes that i like, i could use them as 'landmarks' when listening to the albums. nowadays your albums are some my favourites ever. Its just people listen to music and absorb it in different ways. ( I may have missed the point here) much respect though

twftt said...

Great post, thanks.

And so, so true.

The differences you point to in the way people consume music these days is very much a symptom of consumer-culture, as I see it. Such behaviour is mirrored across many other aspects of modern life. I put time and study into this.

Our attention is scattered and shattered and we don't give anything time. We avoid risk. Growth and development takes time and learning involves making mistakes. We are losing touch with that.

I remain devoted to vinyl for the reasons you describe. For decades I have bought music based on an album cover, a short but respected review, or just on impulse.

Some of those records felt like mistakes once I got home. But tastes change and over time, gems have gradually emerged from the dust of those 'mistakes'.

Vinyl is like the 'slow food' of the music industry. MP3's and the 'try before you buy' attitude to music may serve peoples attention-deficits and help them feel protected from 'mistakes', but I'm sticking to the risks of deep water and time taken in the slow lane.

Unknown said...

yes, sometimes i feel the same. and what's even more unbelievable is the amount of music you could have access to through the internet.
when i see an album by an artist i really like i often buy the whole LP digitally without pre-listening to them. so i get kind of a CD/Vinyl Feeling.

djemptyx said...

with rapid improvement in accessibility tech fattens the demand for instant gratification and this creates a giant wake in traditions and cultures such as the record collecting one you describe. digital music distribution services who offer the ability to purchase single tracks from a release are only doing what feels natural for their economic well-being and by appealing to that incessant need for instant gratification and feeding the consumerists that we are they effectively turn an album into a small music buffet table. but little thought goes into how general music culture is being affected by offering up new accessibilities. that has nothing to do with profit and so it is of no interest. imo labels and their distributors (yes, small and large) are just as much to blame for the cultural climate change and not only the young attention deficient consumerist or these buffet table services. i can expand on that but perhaps i don't need to do so if one considers that it takes 2 sides in an exchange of goods/services and both are willing to take part in the exchange. the reasons do not matter. the end result is that we feed the consumerist inside. this won't get any better ;)

speziale said...

I think there is a lot of truth in what you say but where there are losses there are also gains. I am your generation and have a ton of vinyl, but I moved to Australia and was forced to leave it behind. I am nostalgic for it and the whole record shopping experience. But at the same time the vast availability of mixes online, some really amazing, has become a great source of music and inspiration. One can feed off other people's discoveries, and when it is buried in a mix you are less likely to skip it, perhaps. Maybe not but I think the curious will always dig deep. Not only that but the ability to exactly craft my own mixes the way I wanted by cutting and pasting audio is something I always dreamed of back in the day and now I can do it.

The same goes with following people online, you can get referred to stuff in a way that might never have happened back in the day, particularly if you lived away from any good record stores and did not have a musically like minded crowd around you.

The problem for an artist is obviously the difficulty of leveraging an income from this.
But I must say you new data trans podcast is an absolute joy, and there are definitely some tracks on there I would go out and buy if I just knew what they were!

djemptyx said...

Hi speziale. I don't -think- he was referring to "mixes" or digital music in general. I think more what he is saying above is that services like iTunes who offer a one minute clip of every track are making it so that that is what people base their shopping decisions on. The end result is that people buy only the tracks from an LP or EP, based on these -samples- that they liked and not the entire work. He seems to think people are missing out on a lot because they are not buying the complete works and giving -every- track time to soak in. Back before mp3 services like these, people were forced to buy entire albums (despite maybe listening to it first in the shops and not immediately liking every selection on the record) and then take the entire work home. Often people come to enjoy the whole work after some time listening to it in its entirety. Fans are no longer forced to take an entire album home. They can use the mp3 shops to pick and choose tracks they think they enjoy on an album based on initial impressions made by brief clips of ea. track. Before, if one wanted only one cut from an EP/LP then one was still forced to purchase the whole record. I myself recall buying CDs and Vinyl from other fans all over the world on newsgroups...not having more to go on than text descriptions at times. I agree with you that mixes are an excellent means of discovering music. Yeah, if one is interested enough then one will investigate the origins of a certain track and actually go seek it out on/offline.

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