Digitization and the Downfall of Culture
Maybe it’s not as bad as my instinct tells me it is. My fear: with the proliferation of on-demand downloads of single songs, people will miss out on good music. Prior to the radio and recorded music, people went to concerts, social events, and the like and heard what the musicians wanted them to hear. Sure, the musicians may have received some suggestions or requests, but they still had license to perform.
With the advent of radio and recorded music, we had critical ears deciding what songs would and would not be heard. This still exists today. For the music buying public though, you had to purchase the entire album if there was more than one song by the artist you wanted to hear at your convenience. Yes, singles existed in vinyl, cassette, and CD format, but were really only placebos. Fact is, you ended up buying the whole album.
And therein lies the beauty. You get the song you wanted to hear, and then there are 5 to 9 additional pieces for your listening pleasure. They may be a little too long, or slow for the radio, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good song that will enrich your existence.
Will digital music make it so that the critics are controlling our musical culture? I hope not. I hope that for 99 cents, you’ll get the song you want to hear and maybe put out another 99 cents to get another song by that artist. And if you like that, keep on going and get the whole album. Otherwise, we’ll end up with mass produced music with little variation or value (some may argue that there are a couple of categories of that music now).
Note that I’m not an RIAA mole, an artist, or in any position to gain from the sale of music. I’m just an avid fan of a lot of different music and I want to see musical artists continue to put their heart and soul into their work.