Saturday, August 13, 2005

High-speed net & our appreciation of music

Being a music fan, downloading music (for free of course, ha) is something that's appealed to me for years now. I've been downloading mp3s since about 1998/9, but until recently I've had to put up with dial-up speeds. Downloading a 5mb song file at 5kb/s as most will know is a pain in the ass and so my mp3 collection was relatively small. Now though, my flatmate and I have upgraded to Xtra Jetstream (high-speed, broadband) and we thought we may as well go and get the fastest one (256kb/s), with the largest download limit (10gig). Our access to music now is bordering on the ridiculous. With knowledge of the right sites and things, it's not uncommon to download an entire album of music (about 80 megabytes) in 5-7 minutes. And since we have 10gigs to work worth, that means a lot of albums potentially (at least 100). This is where the problem begins though...

We'll download an entire album and while it's still finding its way on to the computer we've found another one and lined that up for download. So the first one finishes, and we start the second one downloading while we listen to the first one (it's not as confusing as that sentence, ha). Next, we skip through every track of the album and listen to about 30 seconds of each one. Then we go back to the ones that sounded good and give them a slightly more thorough listen. After that, we'll talk about how this track was shit, and that one was mean... and then... that's it. That album is basically finished with and we're ready to do the same with the one that has arrived in the meantime. Admittedly the songs I like will make it to my iPod, but the rest will be burned off to disc and forgotten about.

This is where I feel our appreciation of music is cheapened or lessened by the access high-speed internet provides to music.
I mean, previously my music listening habits were a lot more attentive and if I go back to the 1990's I would spend literally months on one album. I'd play it to death and in the process I'd learn all the words and pick up on what the artist was saying or trying to convey. Whereas now, unless it's a favourite artist of mine, I'll play the track and if the beat doesn't grab my attention within 30 seconds, I'll skip to the next one.

Also, back when I was about buying CDs, the price meant it was likely I'd only get one at a time and that's all the new music I would have until I could save up enough money for another one. Which meant I'd really play it out and make sure I got my moneys worth. Because you would spend more time with the album, you would learn to like new tracks eventually as well, and get a truer appreciation of the whole album... not just its lead singles and ear-catching tracks.

Anyone else know what I'm talking about?


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