It may have come to some people’s attention that we live in a society dependent on technology. Today, in the 21st century technology determines our way of life, how we live, how we perceive the world and ultimately what we are like both as individuals and as a collective mass. Just think of such things like the bloody internet for pete’s sake; aeroplanes, computers, cars, microwaves etc. The list is endless. It is fair to say that the majority of these technological advancements have been largely beneficial to our way of life. Just imagine how boring our evenings at home would be without 300 channels of ‘quality’ Sky television programming to choose from.
I like to consider myself an underachieving musician waiting for his ‘big break’ into stardom, so I am certainly aware of the technological advancements that have affected music and its industry over the decades. Imagine life without digital effects and digital recording. Improvements to lighting and sound-systems have increased the standard and variety of venue everyday toilet bands can play. Technology in the music industry has been used to improve sound quality in the new digital studios etc. I’m not pretending that I know very much at all about the use of this technology, but I do know what I like and what I don’t like. I like the fact that the bass on a lot of records has been given some ooommph. I like the lack of fuzz in the background, the crisper clearer sounds.
Of course this all a matter of opinion. Some people don’t like this. Fine. Technology is there to cater for all tastes. Pearl Jam have been spending ridiculous amounts of money to make their later records sound deliberately like they were recorded in a dump. Heaven forbid Pearl Jam could ever sink so low as to simply record their records in a dump. What would they have done without this technology? It is a little bit like buying a T-shirt with pre-torn designer rips for £49.99. God bless Technology for providing us with all the options.
Now to my point. There is one specific area in music I would like to talk about where technology has apparently improved music. The MP3. Now my fellow music listeners have the ability to carry their entire music collection on their person, listen to it when they like and show off their new shiny toy whenever they like. Fantastic. Or is it? Call me a traditionalist if you like but whatever will happen to the good old ALBUM. The album is the most important thing a band will ever achieve. It is their masterpiece, carefully put together by musicians who want to tell their story in its entirety, something that will stay with them forever, and not fade in time like memories (and technology). The way to listen to a band is to start at the beginning of an album, working your way through, track by track, until you reach the end. And if you are lucky there may even be a secret track waiting to surprise you.
The true music fan knows that the best song on an album is rarely the single. The single is often some over produced piece of twaddle, representing the partronising and condescending face of music you could take home to your dad. The single rarely represents the band. The album tracks (more specifically the album as a whole) is/are what the true fan wants and needs to be listening to. The MP3 denies the true fan what he craves. Quality, variety, interesting music that is not as polished as Mr MP3’s balding head.
Instead, the miracle of MP3 gives every true music fan what he/she least wants. It signals the demise of the album, instead promoting the single purely for the benefit of the music industry. This is done simply by providing the facilities to purchase songs individually. Checkout this weeks download charts. It is a well known fact that bands make pittance off single sales. The profits go to the big wigs and the bands are left to take what they can from the resulting tours and promotion. The popularity of MP3s amongst our business class/upper class toffs who think they know something about music is unsurprising (oh check out Victoria Beckham’s new single by the way, it’s really good). I got news for you mate, she didn’t write it. Any of it. At all. The MP3 panders to the likes of these fraudsters, making more money off image than substance.
This is the way the music industry is taking us whether you like it or not, whether you can see it or not, with these twits purchasing the latest technology has to offer us in the way of portable music devices. Say goodbye to musical integrity, variety, genius. Say goodbye to the album and instead say hello to mundane, repetitive uninspired music (mostly what we hear on the radio), recorded in the same studio by the same producer, financed by the same company. But wait this is an advance in music remember?
I call for a boycott of the MP3. What’s wrong with mini disk, CD? Tape even? If you love music, real music that is not hijacked by those seeking to profit from bands creativity, turning it into exactly the same thing you heard before, then reject the MP3. Viva real music, musicians music, music that gets you excited, makes you want to go out, meet people and get fucked. This is where the true spirit of music lies (as well as in all the grotty toilet venues up and down the country), not in a little box of technology.