Friday, March 18, 2011

Giving the music industry a bad name?

I saw in a newspaper earlier this week that Jon Bon Jovi blamed Steve Jobs for killing the music industry. Here is the quote from the rock star from the article in the Huffington Post:

"Kids today have missed the whole experience of putting the headphones on, turning it up to 10, holding the jacket, closing their eyes and getting lost in an album; and the beauty of taking your allowance money and making a decision based on the jacket, not knowing what the record sounded like, and looking at a couple of still pictures and imagining it," he said (via MSN), thinking back to his record buying days. Then came the less fanciful: the blame.

"God, it was a magical, magical time. I hate to sound like an old man now, but I am, and you mark my words, in a generation from now people are going to say: 'What happened?' Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business."

Yeah, as someone who grew up in the 1980s, I can say how true this is and how I miss that idea as a grownup now. I must confess I have never downloaded music or used an iPod. Why, you ask? Because I never had much luck with the old cassette-playing Walkman. I had one or two different ones that quickly died out on me and have feared the same thing happening with an iPod. An iPod, after all, looks like nothing more than a "tapeless Walkman," as I once called it.

In the 80s, I was primarily a cassette listener, not much for vinyl LPs. I begged for a CD player in 1991 and got one that year for Christmas. I still have and use it today, though it's been about 9 years since I've bought any CDs. A lot of the ones I bought starting the year I got my player are still with me. And I never bothered bothered buying the CD-playing version of the Walkman, out of the same fear of one of those dying out the same way the cassette versions I'd had had died on me.

Another I must confess is that I would often fast-forward my tapes or CDs to songs I liked or those that were popular and that helped sell the album. The old 45 RPM records of course, were made for selling just the one song and its b-side. This idea was later applied to cassettes and CDs as the cassette singles and CD singles, but these formats never seemed to catch on.

Just before I got my CD player in 1991, I saw an article on Rolling Stone on how CD booklets were killing the classic album covers, reducing them down to booklet-size. Yes, the Beatles' name was no longer in embossed letters on "The White Album," and the zipper on the Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers" album cover could not be reproduced for the CD, but at least we got a picture jacket, something that downloaded music has killed. One of the first CDs I bought in 1991-92, was Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," which I had gotten on cassette in 1986. My cassette mysteriously disappeared sometime later, so I knew I needed to get this one on CD. Sometime before getting my CD player, though, I'd

bought a used copy of the vinyl LP. So I've had this one in all major formats.

And even those who do buy CDs today have missed out on the old record stores. Today it's all about buying them on the Internet or at Target or Walmart (which was also the option back in the day if no record stores existed in your town). None were in mine. If you could get to a record store, you could see posters on the walls and someone working at the store might have taken time to share their love or knowledge of a particular artist or genre. You didn't get that if Kmart was your only record-buying option, unfortunately, but if that's what you had to do get the album you wanted, you'd do it just to have the album in your possession. I managed to get out of town many times to get to the Wherehouse and other major music-store chains that once existed, but most of the time had to settle for the Kmart or Target in my hometown, where I get most of my DVDs today.

From another link on this subject:

Today’s teens are missing out on a lot. There’s nothing like the good old days, listening to a blastingradio with all your friends, singing songs at the top of your lungs, and adults clicking their tongues thinking that the music was just noise. Good times.

Maybe Jon has a point. The music industry is not what it used to be. Is the love that teens had for music 30 years ago gone? Have we allowed ourselves to be manipulated by technology so much that the pure joy of listening to ten songs from your favorite group at once is gone forever?

Forever? Maybe not. One day music and album sales might return along with the transistor radio. Don’t know what a transistor radio is? Very sad.

Well, maybe you can find a used one somewhere, along with used vinyl records. They're out there somewhere. Check your Goodwill.

1 comment:

Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

Great post!! I am a sucker for anyone that is a fan of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road....a classic.