By Demetrius Trisvan (Whetstone Staff Writer)
There are a few issues I have with technology, but none is more infuriating than the funneling effect it has had on the distribution of music. While YouTube and Pandora have turned everyone’s teenage sister into a DJ, technology has made access to your favorite song easier – but there are fewer places to get studio quality music.
Although some argue the best things in life are free, it comes at too great cost with music. Pirating music has crippled the music industry since Napster. Bootlegged copies of MP3’s and zippered files of albums have flooded the Internet with garbage quality, and robbed artists of untold sums of money.
I have to admit that I have gone digital over the last two years. However, my change from purchasing CDs is primarily because there are fewer places to buy them. This forces me and others like me to conform, which has made the 8-track, Cassette, Vinyl and CD’s nothing more than trendy decorations and conversational pieces.
The days of Sam Goody and FYE are long gone. Now, online shopping is the only way to buy new music. Platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Google Music and Tidal are only a few of the major players. While access is easy, what do the artists get out the deal? What do these large companies have to gain by promoting the local band down the street? The days of taking a demo into a record store are over.
This new convergence of music has led the way to “Internet sensations,” artist who are simply looking to get rich quick. Now the only way to blow up – become famous – usually includes some marketable gimmick trendy style. This truth is a slippery slope that often times leaves music as an afterthought.
Without the possibility of promotion by local stores or hometown outlets, artists and bands have to compete with each other over the World Wide Web. This reality is daunting: having your song played on the radio is no longer the beginning. Artists need to have millions of followers on Twitter, or have hundreds of thousands downloads on iTunes before they can be considered relevant in the public’s eye.
The chance of stumbling upon some up-and-coming artist on a major music distribution website or application is slim. There is no store clerk to refer you to any new genre or artists, nor is there someone to suggest to you which album is the best. The nostalgic feeling is gone; everything is point and click. Ratings are based on some angry person’s comment at the bottom of the screen, while album quality is graded by how many followers that artist has acquired. And if the numbers don’t add up, why would anyone listen or take the time to try something new?
I’m just a little tired of having to carry an AUX cord with me everywhere I go, or being required to log-in at some website to access my playlist. I miss my CD books, and my album cover artwork. I am afraid that good music will have to sellout its identity for instant Internet fame. I am afraid music quality will no longer be important because fancy headphones have blinded the ears of listeners from the sounds of pure studio quality. I just wonder what will happen next.