We're heading into a fresh, new year of 2021, and given all that went on, we've been hanging around online much longer than we normally would. With all the content we consume every second, music is certainly one of them, although nowadays, there isn't much reason to spend a few bucks to own the music we enjoy. Why is that? What ever happened to visiting a music store, or a store that has a music section, and buying CDs and enjoying all the exclusives packaged in the cases and booklets?
Back then, Shazam never existed and internet access was only available at local libraries. Therefore, if you ever tuned to the radio playing a song that clicked with you, or even a song you heard in public, your best bet was trying to snag some of the words and hoping there'd be a website specializing in song lyrics that matches what you typed in the search engine. During that time, it was Yahoo! that was the most popular search engine. If there was a time where you caught a song's instrumental melody, you'd hum those notes to yourself, or in your mind, and perhaps wish to an ever-expanding Universe that there may be a possibility you might find what the title of that song is/was. Sometimes, you would ask around, namely your schoolmates, coworkers or your family, if they ever heard of the song(s) you wish to know and want to listen more of. Whichever that song was, you then get to know who the artist behind that musical beauty is, and thus, began to follow and even support them. This is the general way of how it was liking an artist based on a hit you liked, wanting to know about them, their history and what they've got lined up for the future. Nevertheless, we've all had this struggle in our lives knowing one thing: Music is the soundtrack of our lives. It's a tough life progress living without the aesthetics of rhythmic "noise" that get you going. Like Life, music is our gift.
As we executed that technique, we would get better at it and familiarize ourselves with band/artist names, who they collaborated with, who they opened for at concerts, attend their live shows, and even who their musical inspirations were. It would lead us to branch out to other avenues of artists and music types that we feel most curious about. All this became a natural phenomenon during our growth, seeking artists that produce tunes that cater to our every mood and speak to us in many different ways, teaching us about ourselves, about life, about relationships with people and other thoought-provoking messages we don't often get taught about growing up. It's no wonder why our teen to college years, we use music as our "go to" when things are well or when the going gets tough. Music, then, is a melodic compression of a message the artist conveys to an open, or specific, audience that opens their minds and see things differently from the common things we experience and learn by ourselves.
With all that said, shopping for music was a fun time; It was a chance to spend time with our friends and explore various artists advertising their albums with unique, often times artistic, covers that caught our eyes. Whether we knew about a new album release or not, we would know our favorite artist's name and see an artwork that we've never seen before, even if it is a Greatest Hits album. Another great thing was going through the booklet packaged with CDs which often times included lyrics to all songs on the album, photographs, exclusive writing pieces and factual information that were only available on physical copies. Not only is the purchase justified, let alone financially supporting such favorite artist, but it feels like an indirect gift given to those fans who do such thing (the content printed in the booklets that are usually not available online). The same was felt when buying cassette tapes or vinyl records: You get to listen to all the songs provided onn the album carefree, without the hang-ups of an internet connection. (This statement stands with physical copies of movies and TV shows.) Best yet, you can repeat the song over and over if you love it that much, or dying to memorize the lyrics, especially if you're listening on a personal CD player. It feels like a personally performed soundtrack made just for you, done and played at your own pleasure and enjoyment, equivalent to a birthday gift. You not enjoy what they've provided, along with the approval of the record labels the artist is under, but you feel proud to own their music physically.
According to Tears For Fears fans, this is the one of the rarest CDs to own: The Saturnine Martial & Lunatic album with the gold stamp (Catalog number is 528 114-2).
Where do we stand today? Using all that was previously mentioned, the struggle has piled up, and continues to do so, let alone all the mishaps occurring in our daily lives. There's so much to think about, along with staying focused on our own personal needs and growth. Work has become more difficult, competitive and lower paying, and keeping up has been tiresome. To sooth out our solitude, and embracing our need for peace, we've been looking toward music to appease the pain and anxiety we're suddenly living with. All this stress needs to seep out of our minds, and music helps with that. In such case, including the big controversy with music piracy being adamant in the early 2000s, we want our music immediately without resorting to loading the discs and playing the song(s) we want. While we critique modern music being veered into producing lyrically pessimistic songs, which affects our minds from opening up, it's no wonder why many people have been miserable (we will discuss this on a future article). We're busy doing something, whether it's for our own personal gain or being involved in a group project, we've made no time for musical exploration. It's become incredibly easy finding music on the internet, an app that detects a melody in the case the song has no lyrics, and searching for song titles wasn't as difficult as it was before. However, relying on various music streaming services, play counts and advertising, it's understandable why some artists are trying to make ends meet, despite the awesome tracks they're known for. Suddenly, many of us forgot what it was like shopping for music, enjoying the artwork and exclusives that can only be found when purchasing physical copies. Nowadays, all you need is a smart device and an internet connection, and apps/websites are very available. Heck, even YouTube allows the looping of videos, which can be applied to songs from the artist's official channels. Music has become easily accessible, but has become more disposable, nullifying our appreciation to artist(s) we've grown to love. While that critique isn't true for everyone, it seems that we don't need to purchase digital downloads or physical copies when we can listen to it online. We take that notion for granted, that is until we, ourselves, become some kind of creative artist as well. Even though some of us don't mind shelling out cash to support our favorite artists, there are some who feel indifferent; The entire album is available for stream, so there isn't a need to do much more. After all, what's the point in owning music when you can just listen to it, then turn it off when you're done?
However, we can't argue that the landscape of our world changes periodically, but it seems that what was fun and a chance to go out is slowly fading, reducing our opportunity to support artists. (Going to concerts, however, is still a viable option. Because of the "stoppage" that went on this 2020 year, that will drastically change as well.)
For those who've done some research, in correlation to streaming, would know that privacy is still an issue today, despite companies swearing on their lives that they don't sell our personal information (we still feel doubtful about that). Quietly, but surely, we hope to gain back our privacy, and that means resorting to "dumb" technologies. We don't need companies wanting to know what or who we stream and listen to, how many times we've listened, and what musical suggestions we may like. We stll believe in personal exploration and know what music we want that abides with our mood(s). While movie collectors have a neat community for those who collect physical copies, eventually encouraging those to collect physical copies again, may open a door to those who also buy and collect physical CDs of their favorite music. There's no shame in collecting physical copies, and with the issue of privacy and our personal information being shared, we'd love nothing more than to freely listen to songs without a third-party looking over our shoulders jotting down information on our habits and behavior.
Do you still buy, and/or collect, music on CD/cassette/vinyl? Will buying physical copies become a thing again? Let's talk about it in the comment section below!