Downloads: Thoughts of a 21st century musician.

During the time of my involvement with  instrumental music label AD Music, I’ve watched with interest the changing nature of the modern electronic music business, and the one thing that keeps popping up is the issue of the “download”. Yes, that seemingly irksome little process whereby we connect our computer to that big invisible thing called the “internet”, press a few buttons and hey presto! – instant music on our computer. But it seems that all are not very happy with this cocky little “download” whipper-snapper and what I have found to be most fascinating about this “download” issue is how it is nothing more than history repeating itself – yet again!!!

I’ll nail my colours to the mast right away – I love download. I love what it offers, I love what it represents and I love it’s benefits. I am old/young (delete as applicable) to remember the hoo-haa when the CD made it’s first appearance and with some amusement tinged nostalgia, I recall the heartfelt bleatings of the poor souls, bound by space and time to forever hold onto the icon that was – vinyl. Yes, vinyl, big round pieces of plastic that you put a needle on and everyone got hysterical about when the CD came along with shouts of “there’s no crackling noises” and “it’ll ne’er replace the lump of plastic!!!”

I’m a big fan of the “MP3 download” and I’ve expotentially increased my music library through download, I’ve found gems that I never thought I would be able to have as a digital file, lost albums re-discovered and for a fraction of the price of the physical equivalent. And as an artist, I’ll look for the way forward, the best ways to reach an audience so that the time and emotional investments I make to create the product in the first place will stand the greater opportunity of reaching those I want to hear my music. And for those who resist the download option, I wonder how they will deal with the notion that up-and-coming music execs will one day soon phase out the CD and what happens then? Do you stop listening to new music? The whole download thing is going to be a bone of contention in exactly the same way as things were when the CD came along. I personally have completely embraced the download option. Whilst it’s cool to have the physical product, you can still have the covers and artwork which come as a part of the download, and it’s at that point at which I begin the failure of understanding as to why there seems to be so much resistance to download. At the end of the day it’s happening, it’s going to keep happening and in the same way dudes desparately clung onto vinyl when the CD emerged, you have to face a certain inevitability that CD is gonna go the way of the dodo dude. The new generations of music buyers (our children and grandchildren) are not going to stand for the physical product and why should they. My 12 year old daughter regularly buys her music online. She downloads MP3 and /or FLAC files (where she can), listens to them on her laptop, converts them (in the case of FLAC files) to MP3 for whatever piece of equipment she wants to play it on (mobile phone, MP3 player etc) as well as creating her own CDRW’s for when she wants to use her hi-fi (a piece of retro tech talk there – impressed?). I’m 44 years old, not over the hill, complete techno-nerd and I think that’s simply marvellous because not only do we save on space through having to store the physical product, not only do we have full control over how we listen to the music we love (we all made compilation tapes as kids – and if you didn’t you need therapy!!!), not only do we have access to more music and a wider range than ever before, we also save on the expense – no postage costs and instant access to the purchase. I won’t go into the sound quality issue because I personally feel that in reality, that’s going into the realms of anal retention, and whatever loss is incurred, it’s a minimalistic price to pay for the ultimate and mind-boggling obvious benefits download online give.

It’s called progress, so at the end of the day, get over it, live with it, embrace it and reap it’s benefits. I did, and I smile often.

Neil Fellowes – December 2009

~ by admusic on December 12, 2009.

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