“Come and listen to this record” an over enthusiastic young nephew demanded recently. Initially (and stupidly) I was expecting to hear a record, in the widely accepted and traditional meaning of the word
but after getting past this generational stumbling block I replied “Hmm yeah, not bad” but not being entirely familiar with the genre I asked him where he bought the MP3 he was playing me. The look of amazement on his face could only be surpassed by my own surprise that he didnt know anyone actually pays for music any more! The word “record” has always meant a circular vinyl disk to me. It seems that it’s meaning has changed in recent years to simply being a shortened word for “recording”.
I’m hoping that as kids who were born in the digital age come to realise that there are shops (whether they are online or high street) that actually sell this audio stuff we may start to see some money being channelled back into record labels.
The industry saw a significant rise in sales of downloads last year. The first since 2003. The figures released by the British Phonographic Industry show another overall drop by 3.4% in 2009. This is the 5th year in a row they have fallen. But the blow was softened by the 56.1% rise in download sales. Selling over 16 million units, downloads accounted for an eighth of all UK music sales. Of this, the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) have found that album download sales increased 76% year on year in January while single sales were up by 45%.
So things certainly seem to be looking up for the industry. ERA also have a digital wing to their operation who are predicting that digital sales could rise as much as 50% this year.
How can this be if kids see music as free? Why would they ever buy music when they can nick it in the comfort of their own home ? Well, something else happened in the collective subconsciousness of the nation’s youth. While we saw our youths turn into cyber-robbers, they inadvertently became more and more clued up about music. As with any of the creative industries the more exposure you have the more aware you become subconsciously turning yourself into an aficionado in the process. You become more aware of great production, great writing, great playing and great ideas. So every now and then when the crap hits your speakers you become infuriated that someone- i don’t know or care who- but someone has created this shite and subjected your musically mature ears to such drivel! How dare they?! In the old days you would need to take said, CD or record, chop it up with a pair of scissors then take the peices, put them into a heat proof bowl and melt it over the gas cooker until it is no more. No need for such drastic disposal methods today as a simple stroke of the delete key will suffice.
So what happens after the offending frequencies have been erased from your precious hard drive? You feel the hunger. Like the pangs of a rabid dog wanting to sink his fangs into something juicy you find yourself embarking on a mission for music that will satisfy your every need. And as you become older you have less time to spend hours trawling peer to peer or torrent sites, in the hope that the file you can see called MadonnasNewRemix and it isn’t just her record company trying to put a virus on your hard drive as punishment for searching for files that are not entirely legal… I mean, what are you going to do? Call the Police? And say what exactly? Exactly! So as you find yourself slightly older, slightly more clued up and probably have a few more quid in your pocket than you did a few years ago (as you now don’t need to rely on Mum and Dads pocket money as you got a job now and earn your own cash) you really cannot be bothered to spend hours hoping that one of your searches brings back a hit that’s worth listening to. Especially when you discover websites such as Bleep, Beatport and Juno have just about every tom, blip and bassline you could dream for.
Could paying for music actually become cool again? It certainly suggests you have better things to do with your life than play musical Russian roulette all day.