I am guilty…I am as guilty as anyone else. From the late 90s I have downloaded free music from the net, and I used the same excuses as most people: I’m hearing the songs free on the radio (though…it seemed much more innocent back then!) …why not hear them free on my computer?
Keep in mind, there was no easy way to walk around with the music back then. I literally only listened to the music on my computer! Which was big and bulky and slow. And downloading was a pain…I could’ve walked to the Village Music Store in downtown Erin and bought the CD before the download was finished!
…and I was downloading the stuff I didn’t want to spend $20 on…like 80s Retro hits, or that ‘one’ song by the artist I didn’t like but didn’t mind…or that big album by an artist I see in stacks at the used CD store in Guelph for $5 because everyone bought it but no one liked it.
The problem with a good thing is that the consequences aren’t visible, and the future can’t outweigh the now. I was listening to an episode of Radiolab and they touched on the concept of the ‘Now’ you and the ‘Future’ you…for instance, in the case of quitting smoking, the ‘Now’ you wants to quit…but the ‘Future’ you is weak and doesn’t have the same resolve that you have right now.
The ‘Now’ me wanted to listen to a tune and found it online for free!
The ‘Future’ me is watching the record industry go to hell in a hand basket, and wonders if buying my favourite artist’s albums might have made a difference. Humour me for a bit…and please remember, I’m kinda rambling…consider it a thought experiment!
Imagine for a moment a different ‘now’ – a new future from your past – in which you had bought ONLY the music you liked. You didn’t splurge on the latest U2 album ’cause it was popular, or that pop album because there was one song you liked. If you like u2 or pop, let’s say you focused on them…in my case, I’m thinking stuff like Broadcast, the Jayhawks, and later Franz Ferdinand (which I *did* buy, btw…all of those) or even more obscure stuff, more indie. You and I focused on buying albums, going to shows, and dumping ALL my music-money into the stuff I loved.
…would that genre be all powerful now? If I and all my friends and the world (…or you and all your friends and the world) supported the music YOU loved, would that music be strong, the Top 40 be dotted with the next generation of your music?
…if this is how it works, then I guess the world loves the predecessors of Taio Cruz, of Jason DeRulo, of T.I. and Usher and P. Diddy…
We complain that the labels are conservative and not opening up to great artists who have to remain indie…but if they’re conservative, then it must mean that the Top 40 today is born out of evolution, meaning that it was the support of the populace that grew us from Boy Bands to Grunge back to Boy Bands and into electro-dance-urban and the rest of the pop we hear on the radio and in the bars today.
Honestly, how is Friday any different than ‘Baby?’ I’m gonna backtrack and mention that I think Baby is actually a fricken amazing pop song, it does everything pop should. Although I’d LOVE a world where Mumford and Sons, Phoenix and Art vs Science are the Top 40…I understand that pop means ‘Popular’ and despite piles of angry comments on YouTube and hater sites, Bieber is popular.
…and so is Rebecca Black. My roommate was singing Friday yesterday…but after he repeated the title in an effective copy of Rebecca Black’s voice, he uttered “Ooooo–oooh”…a la ‘Bieber’…a la ‘Baby.’ Because, at least during the chorus, they can be easy to mix them up.
We brought this on ourselves. We downloaded music instead of supporting it, and all the media had to gauge the pulse of the world (because, trust me, they AREN’T going to sift through thousands of blogs to figure it out) was what the labels told them, and what the labels knew was what we were buying, and what we were buying was pop, and urban, and dance.
I may be way off…this is more theory than reality, but I don’t think I’m that far off.
And what happens when no one is buying music anymore. How will musicians make music, unless they have rich parents who pay music ‘factories’ to make their little girls stars, or little boys playing guitar on YouTube and being discovered by an insider?
It’s almost impossible to say, because the ‘Future’ me is going to have to deal with it, and even though I’m trying to figure it out the ‘Now’ me is living in a different time. I just hope I make the right decisions from now on.