I am willing to admit it here and now; I have illegally downloaded music in the past, and I will probably continue to. Any sneering is welcome, but please look in the mirror pre-sneering. People illegally download for a number of reasons: a) they want to listen to the album before committing their hard-earned money b) it’s free and c) it is much easier to just download it from your own home. And I don’t blame these people. Here’s why…
I went into my local HMV yesterday and purchased two CDs. They were pretty easy to find as both were new releases. Once I picked the two CDs up, I scanned the aisles that led to the till for any bargains and then went up to pay for my CDs (there were no bargains). I was greeted by a sales assistant in his mid-20’s who was nice enough, but then simply took the CDs off of me, scanned them and then I paid. Let’s compare it to something else, shall we? I went into Rough Trade East in London last Monday and bought three CDs. I picked up the one CD I wanted to buy, but then was drawn to the vast array of great music that was displayed. No gimmicks, no big pink stickers with ‘SALE – £6’ on it, just great music that is approved from the record store and then sold to consumers. I found two more CDs I wanted to buy, had another two or three good looks around the CDs on offer and then went to the till. Similarly, I was greeted by a sales assistant in his mid-20’s, who was also nice enough, but upon handing him the CDs he made comments about the CDs and opened discussion. I was made to feel as if what I was buying was actually worth buying. In HMV, I felt as if I was buying the CDs to keep their business alive (literally) instead of for my benefit and pleasure. I am not singling out Rough Trade here, nor am I saying that HMVs have average customer service, these are merely two recent comparisons.
Whilst I have done a gracious morris dance around the actual point, and as much as I don’t intend to sound like a virtual Mary Portas, customer service plays, in my opinion, a much bigger part than people think in keeping the music industry alive. Do you want people to carry on buying CDs? Get your staff to briefly brush up on the new releases perhaps and spark conversation with their customers when they purchase them perhaps, it will make them want to return next time. Even if you don’t know who the band are for Gods sake, just say that you like the album/single/EP, whatever it is they’re purchasing. If customers leave a record store with just a few CDs, where is the future incentive to go and buy music in it’s physical format as opposed to buying it off iTunes or Spotify?
Does anyone else feel the same? Do you disagree? And more importantly, do you still buy CDs? Let me know.
Filed under Features, Music
A really great music blog that I follow, The Noise Collective, wrote a good blog post today on the subject of appreciating music and where we have gone wrong (oh so blindly) to end up in this situation. I’d take a read, not only is it informative and material to reflect upon, there are some great songs included, backing up the authors opinion that we as the public have missed out on so many great songs due to mainstream singles overshadowing the unreleased tracks. Especially listen to Solange’s cover of Dirty Projector’s Stillness Is The Move, it’s great.
My friend’s brother is in a band, Wire People, who put one of their songs ‘Here’ up for download at the weekend. I really, really enjoyed it. It sounds like a big concoction of How To Dress Well, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Local Natives, with a nice electronic back-beat thrown in. Give them a listen, it’s laid-back loveliness and it is so refreshing to see such a local band trying something completely different from the ‘pop punk’ Hampshire is persistently plagued with.
This is a blog post I had to write for one of my university units about, well, read the title. Again, any comments you have on the subject would be appreciated.
How do you become a music critic? Well, ask the majority of people and they will tell you that you would need an encyclopaedic knowledge of your subject, a passion for what you are writing about and a natural ability to be able to compare, criticize and praise. This rings true for a lot of trusted music critics nowadays, but I am worried that as time goes on, our future music critics may start to lack in the knowledge department. Why? I blame iTunes.
I do like iTunes. Over my teenage years I have managed to collect just under 9000 songs in my library and I am proud to say that I listen to at least 90% of it regularly. The beauty of iTunes is in its simplicity; you can store as much music as your computer physically allows you to and you won’t ever get a scratched CD or find that one of your precious vinyls has warped in the sunlight. That is why even the vinyl purists have slowly converted to using iTunes, but with simplicity comes disadvantages, and one these is the lack of interactivity with records. Before the MP3 revolution, people actually had to buy albums! Amazing! An individual would buy an album and play it on their hi-fi system, with no need for a computer to give them their musical fix. There were very few, if any, ways to illegally share your music, so people would have ‘listening parties’ where people met up and listened to an album together and discussed all aspects of the music. This way people became familiar with every song name, the order of the album and possibly even a bit of background history to do with the band. This kind of interactivity with music is the best way to broaden someones musical knowledge, and I am absolutely gutted that this kind of thing never occurs nowadays.
I know a lot of people who listen to music via iTunes or even a different program such as Spotify or Napster. But what I find EXTREMELY aggravating is when you ask someone their favourite song off a particular album and they can’t name the song title, for example. Or maybe when you ask someone’s opinion of the latest Radiohead album, and they aren’t even aware of the album. This is proof that iTunes has stopped people from caring about their music any more. People will play an album, send iTunes to the background and continue refreshing Facebook and Twitter. I have always had a mission statement in which I have swore to myself that I will not ignore or neglect my music. I am ridiculously passionate about my music, give me anything and I will listen to it intently and give you my opinion. Where are the rest of these similar-minded creatures?
The modern-day equivalent of these ‘listening parties’ is downloading an album off Mediafire, sending the link to a friend and then saying ‘yeah, track 5 is good init!’ on Facebook chat. It is a sad state of affairs, and I would like to see a change in this. Unfortunately, people seem to be getting along just fine the modern way, whilst I sit in my room next to my hi-fi talking to myself.