Friday, April 18, 2014

Actually buying things

Everyone knows music is free nowadays. I had a look at wikipedia and it pointed me toward a survey done in 2012 in which 29% of respondents admitted to downloading music from peer-to-peer networks. If we factor in the fact most of the others are lying and a lot of them probably don't care for music at all, then do a bit of faux maths, everyone and their mum has a account. You don't even have to go behind the back of the law any more in order to satiate your music fix thanks to Youtube, Soundcloud and Spotify. Hell, as a writer on Muzik Dizcovery I struggle to listen to promos faster than they arrive.

This has had a profound effect on how us music-nerds listen to music: we don't. A pile of albums are prepared, they are skimmed through and then they are dropped because on first glance they are not quite as good as OK Computer.

We are always looking for the next big thing, and when albums come in their thousands it's natural to want to cast your net as wide as possible. The problem is that in looking forward to the future you forget to engage with what's right in front of you. The result is a kind of constant numbness and disappointment. It doesn't have to be like this. An album might not be perfect yet there could still be a lot to draw from it. Take DjRum's ill-fated attempt at an LP last year: not fantastic in any sense but it had flashes of absolute genius.

For me, just slowing down wasn't much of an option. Firstly, I've tried it a couple of times and it didn't even come close to working. Secondly, I didn't really want to: despite the drawbacks of gluttonously devouring music it does have the obvious advantage of putting me into contact with a lot of brilliant, unheard-of music I'd otherwise be oblivious to. There's a lot of crap out there and someone has to sift through it. May as well be me.

The steady medium came in sectioning off a little of my student loan to buying music with actual real money. I don't buy everything I listen to, neither do I only dish out cash for the very best, but every now and again (pretty regularly, actually) I'll treat myself to something. Often only small things -again I'm a student, so money is primarily for food, rent and intoxicants- but things nonetheless.

It works, you know. I have a reason to sit down and properly experience an album even if I don't have the intention of reviewing it. “Getting to grips” with a random album purely for my own sake is something I haven't done since the days of dial-up and it's strangely liberating. I may not even like it too much: it's just nice to have listened to an album enough to know the tracklist by heart, which would only otherwise happen with the best albums of the year. There's also a lot to be said for understanding an album instead of just being vaguely familiar with it.

Are you someone looking to spice up the day-to-day grind of a music addiction? Here's my answer: start paying for some of it.

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