The Plight of Digital Media Shopping

Ipods and cds, oh my!
In this fast growing technology oriented society that we’re a part of it’s common place for older technologies to be thrown by the way side. The music world is not immune from this life cycle, particularly the realm of music media. 78′s were replaced but 7inch jukeboxes, which were replaced by 33rpm LPs, which were replaced by 4 side 8 tracks which were replaced by cassettes which were replaced by compact disks which are being replaced by the entirely different life cycle chain of digitally stored medium. For the most part with each link in the chain advantages came along with it. Perhaps the biggest jump came when we went from 8 tracks to cassettes. With cassettes we were introduced to affordable portable music players which over time have evolved into the postage stamp sized mp3 players we see today. With the current state of dedicated physical media in suspect I’d like to draw attention to some of the flaws I see in the new mp3 oriented¬† state of things. These flaws aren’t with the medium itself but more with how it is altering how we attain music, listen to it and ultimately what music we choose to listen to.

Typically what you find on an album is a snap shot of a artist’s repertoire from a given time period. For example, if an artist releases a album every two years one can assume that the bi annual album is a summation of the music output from that artist over the preceding time frame. In general much thought is put into an album. Of course each song on the album is given extensive attention but also the order of the songs and amount of songs on the finished release. Sometimes songs are dropped because they simply don’t fit in with tone they are trying to set with the album. As a general rule of thumb I find that if you love a particular song and then you listen to the complete album that that song came from, you’ll like the album as well. Music is art and creating and laying out an album is a extension of that art. Kind of like a frame is to a painting. My worry is that this new trend of digital music players has people picking and choosing just the songs they are familiar with from particular albums with complete disregard to the album itself, picking and choosing their faves without really giving the full album a chance.¬†¬† Essentially honing in on what the television and radio have introduced them to and putting little thought into listening to alternatives.

In the old days if you liked Weezer song you bought the entire album and were pleasantly surprised that the rest of the album was equally as good. In this new generation you buy the song you heard on the radio and leave it at that. This isn’t inherently a bad thing but in a way you are taking the choice of music selection and pushing it to someone else. By selecting songs purely by another’s recommendation you are taking yourself out of the picture and cheapening the artists work by just cutting out the part you already knew of(to go back to the painting analogy). Now I should note that there are plenty of times when I’ve bought albums because I liked a single song just to learn that the rest of the album was a turd sandwich. I’d say that is the case about 15% of the time with all the other times leaving me pleasantly surprised. So in my opinion if you buy music online, if you can afford it you should buy whole album. If you are really interested in finding new music it’s definitely worth it. If you don’t give a crap and just wanna hear what was on the top 100 then you probably haven’t read this far anyway.

1 comment to The Plight of Digital Media Shopping

  • Gregory Marchese egorgry

    Good post. I for one always but the whole album but I’m a music lover. In fact I just was suckered into the new itunes lp gimmick and picked up The Doors. I also like that some artist won’t sell certain songs a la cart they make it part of the album on itunes and amazon.

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