Free Music Appreciation

Realistically, no one really has to pay for a piece of entertainment ever again. Need a film? Hop on a torrent site and download it! (Because in reality, there’s only ever 3 good films on Netflix. The rest are just crap movies you’d find on Channel 5 on a Tuesday night.) The same goes for music. New album from your favourite artist? No need to buy it! Legal glorified torrent sites music streaming services have you covered.

This trend has me worried, and my fear is this: we can not truly appreciate music, when it is given to us so readily for free.

Let’s remember days-gone-by. Walking into HMV with £20 in your back-pocket, knowing you only had enough for two albums. You’d spend hours flicking through the different genres, seeing which album cover caught your eye. By the end there’d be a stack of CD’s, but only two were coming home with you. There were serious decisions to be made.

This choice determined what you’d be listening to for the next fortnight, forcing us to carefully invest, both time and money, in the music we wanted to listen to.

Now, you can have whatever you want, whenever you want. All for free.

This creates a weird dynamic between consumer and artist. Artists are now asking us to buy their music. Long gone are the days where the artist had the power and could say “fuck you this isn’t free, want to hear my stuff then you’ve got to buy it.” They now have to justify charging you for their product.

Which is mental.

An album is expensive to make, and when it comes out but it isn’t available to stream – people lose their shit and start complaining like a woman with the ‘can I see the the manager’ haircut. “How much?! I have to buy it?! With MONEY?!”, whilst guzzling down a large soya-pratta-fuckha-chino which cost £2 more than the album does.

“But Joel, you out of touch cock-womble. Vinyl sales are on the rise! I bought Adele’s new album on wax. Do some research before you write a pompous blog post about how free music is killing the industry.”

– Barnaby, 29, enjoys Tofu and puts the milk in first when making tea

Well, hold your horses there young scallywag.

48% of people who buy vinyl don’t even listen to it. Meaning it just ends up strung on a wall, to become a talking point at dinner parties. In my eyes, that still isn’t appreciating music. Granted, it is a lot better than simply streaming it; the artist’s being supported for one. But streaming is still king, which isn’t going to change any time soon.

So, the best things in life may be free. But the best music shouldn’t be. Music is becoming increasingly devalued and under appreciated. But we can change that! This is my CALL TO ACTION.

Be honest with yourself:

  • When was the last time you actually bought an album?
  • What’s the ratio of your music consumption; between streamed to bought?
  • What albums do you cherish the most?

By supporting the artists we love and buying their music, we get to own a piece of art that we’ll appreciate – far more than if it was just streamed. We’re coming to a point where the following generations will no longer be able to answer the question:

“What was the first album you ever bought?”