A rant about music

For the past weeks or two I’ve been contemplating doing a 2010 music post. Not necessarily what I thought were the top 10 albums or anything, but more like my soundtrack of 2010. I still might. First though, I need to get a thing or two off my chest..

Number one. I believe that music is made to be shared (we’ll get into the legal vs illegal debate later) but it can also be an intensely personal and private thing. I’ve made friends through music, and sometimes there’s nothing better than a chat about what you’re currently listening to or what you bought last.

Introducing others to music is all part of it too. A lot of new music is discovered via word of mouth, from friends’ recommendations or listening to some records while in someone’s house or at a gig or whatever. Not wanting to sound too corny here, but I honestly believe a strong bond is created when people share music. It’s unspoken, but it’s just there.

Which brings me onto the slightly contradictory point of music being private and personal. I’m not talking about a couple having ‘their song’, but more so that people can become extremely emotionally attached to a song or album. Music can be a stronger reminder of an event or a period in someone’s life or a person than any photo or diary entry or physical thing. I know people will disagree with me here and say the idea is ridiculous, but I understand why certain people may want to keep certain music to themselves.  It may be the most over-played Lady Gaga song or an obscure classical song; it doesn’t matter. To that person, this album may have changed their lives, helped them through the tough times, or might just serve as the most effective reminder of some time in the past. People can be protective of and slightly possessive over music, but that’s why it’s so important.

Number two. I far, far prefer to listen to music on a CD than on my laptop. It usually takes that little bit longer to find the CD you want and put it into the player, but it all adds to the true experience that listening to music should be. If that record player sitting in the corner of this room actually worked, I’d go for vinyl, but for now, it’s CDs. At least they’re a million times better than MP3s.

I see people with iPods full of stolen music. I’m the first to put my hand up and say that yes, I was a semi-regular downloader at one stage, but not any more. I can see why people, especially younger people, feel the need to obtain music for free. The media never shut up about how easy it is to download illegally, and with people trying their hardest to save a few pennies it’s inevitable that spending on entertainment will be hit.

It annoys me. It really does. I feel sorry for these people too though. When you buy a CD or a record, you part with your hard earned cash, so it makes sense that you’ll value the music. You’ll make an effort to listen to it, get to know it, develop an opinion on it. It’s a physical object too. You can leaf through the inlay, examine the artwork, read the lyrics or notes while you listen, the list goes on.. You download an album without leaving the comfort of your couch, listen to it once, and then forget it’s there. Also, depending on where you buy it, picking out a record and buying it is an event in itself. You talk to other music fans about the artist, the latest releases, or just life in general. You might report back on what you thought of the album, and generally just appreciate the whole process more. Head to a P2P for your illegal download and you’ll get none of this. Your choice I guess..

Then we get into the legality and the morality of downloading from the internet. Well it’s illegal. Full stop. Morally though? That’s up to you. Some people couldn’t give a crap about the artist who created the music, but others do, and rightfully so. If you’re listening to music, getting enjoyment out of it, you should be giving something back. That’s just my opinion. I’m not talking about bands or producers who are just starting out. There is, of course, a time when artists just need to get as many people as possible to hear their work and that’s when people should enjoy music for free. Artists lose out, small record labels fold, and independent record stores close, all because you couldn’t be bothered paying a few bucks for your music.

Number three-ish. I love music. Alot. Years ago, I didn’t love music as much. It just didn’t feature. But thanks (probably) to a lovely little record store here in Cork I now love going to buy new music. For me, it’s worth every penny and I love coming home on a Saturday evening with a new album to get me through the week. I don’t claim to have a hugely extensive music knowledge, because I don’t, but I love what I know so far. So here’s to many more years of new and old music, live gigs, in-depth discussions of an album, charming record stores, CDs, vinyl and maybe the odd song through a tinny laptop speaker.

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