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Patrick Shipley / Bassist / Blog

Why Did I Buy Music?

Being a musician during this particular period of time can be quite depressing for those people with aspirations and dreams of greatness. You can take Gene Simmon’s (KISS) perspective that rock is dead or the opposite one with David Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters). The lines from the movie “Almost Famous” come to my mind when I think about the music industry or talk about it with my peers. In the beginning Lester Bangs says to William Miller about rock n’ roll. “It's over. You got here just in time for the death rattle. Last gasp. Last grope.” To which he replies, “at least I'm here for that.” That sums up my feelings about it all “at least I am here for that.” Nonetheless we all agree that the music industry is hurting.

If you have a spoon full of discernment about what’s happening in the music industry, you realize that there is no money for labels to invest in to emerging artists or new talent. Labels are forced to invest in established artists and keep feeding their cash cow, diva artists to keep them in the lifestyles they are now so accustomed. There is a thriving D.I.Y. society emerging but there seems to be little hope that you will find the next Alice Cooper, Lynrd Skynrd or Metallica without major distribution opportunities.

You can blame the internet, file sharing, streaming or whatever you want but after some recent events I have come to the realization the true issue with the industry: buying music isn’t fun anymore. I came to this epiphany the other day in my local used book and music store. After a jaded walk through the store, I browsed through a random bargain bin. I found two albums that I didn’t have. I was completely giddy. The next time I went back and looked through the bargain section again, but that time to no avail. In those moments, it was fun again.

This is going to date me personally but I do vaguely remember going to buy vinyl records as a pre-teen with my older brother at the “record store”. As a pre-teen we loved to go there and look through all the vinyl records and several of which I still have. But even still, as the Compact Disc began to take over the scene it was still fun to go sift through all the bins trying to find your favorite band or rare compilation album. Being that we were in the South, it was hard to find many of our favorite metal bands’ albums on the shelf (being that it was a new, emerging genre). Buying music was fun and sometimes an adventure depending on where you had to go to find what you were looking for at times.

In an age of (almost) instant gratification, having everything at your finger tips via the internet can leave you hollow. Even though downloading a song off iTunes is convenient, it still isn’t the same as going to your local music store and finding a rare jewel in a pile of mediocre stones. It gives me a little hope with vinyl records making a comeback. Nothing left more of an impression on my mind as a child than a vinyl record cover. We were blessed with having some great ones. My favorite as a child was Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere in Time” album cover. I can stare at the fine artwork for hours. You can’t have that experience on a digital download or digital streaming.

Getting to sample every track on the album before you buy is .. robbing yourself of the entire musical experience. An album is more than its single but a cohesive collection of musical experiences. If the artist has done their job well and paid attention the order of the songs and the flow of tempo on the record, the entire experience can be inspiring. Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” album, you may not appreciate “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” as a stand alone track but after hearing “The Thing That Should Not Be” before it, that song may taste different on your musical pallet. Value in this context is a two way street for the artist and the consumer.

To read my blog in it's entirety please visit http://pfunk1975.blogspot.com

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