Monday, January 7, 2013


It's been quite a while since I posted a piece. Fortunately, this is due to the amount of work that's been piling up as a glimmer of hope seems to shine underneath all the doom and gloom that has been casting such an atramentous shadow over our world.

And with all this work flowing into the firm these days, we decided it was about time to upgrade the computers which translated into long migrations, purchasing of new software and a lot of curse words.

While transferring files last week, I began the tedious effort of moving all of my music. A collection that has been underway since my twenties when CDs were invented. A product that made the purists cringe but gave way to the now digital age of music. Music transferred and listened to with the ease of a button.

If you are around my age, you have witnessed the greatest evolution in music that has ever taken place in our history. I don't think we as a society fully appreciate just how far it's come as we get so wrapped up within our own world, we lose site with where we were and how far we have taken this technology.

I can remember a night dad and I were watching television and a K-Tel advertisement came on promoting a new album. Rock Power featuring Stepping Wolf, Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and various other artists. It was indeed a power house of rock so we had to order it. I must have been around seven or eight years old and the anticipation of that thing coming in the mail was more than I could bare. We had both been punished with mom's albums of the Carpenters so anything aside from that or B.J. Thomas's Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head would be a welcome rebellious volume cranker.

High school would follow with cassette tapes. Now you could fast forward to your favorite song if you had the right kind of stereo in your car. A simple mechanism that would read the breaks between songs and stop before each number. No more clunky eight track players that were a crap shoot just finding what you wanted to hear.

I was in my college sophomore year when the CD came out. We couldn't buy them fast enough and the music companies couldn't remaster originals to keep up with demand. There was enormous paranoia with owning a CD player as we had all heard that the laser could blind you if the lid wasn't shut. A bunch of eighties kids being pushed into the future amazed at the shiny disks that held so much music. It was truly an amazing time for all of us who loved music.

And then it all went to hell in a hand basket with the computer, the internet and free music downloads.

As I transferred thousands of songs that have bounced from one computer to the next, I began to wonder where all the fun went. Where was that time when dad and I sat on the couch and ordered the soundtrack that would drive us down the road in his green Pontiac with the windows rolled down and seat belts buried out of sight without a care in the world. In fact, I was having trouble remembering the last time I actually bought a new album. I asked my wife if she had purchased a song or album recently and she couldn't remember either. This of course aroused my curiosity and the sociology bug began to bite raising the question if there were other folks like us.

Turns out…there are. And it's slowly killing the music industry.

According to a CNN article, total revenue from U.S. music sales and licensing plunged to $6.3 billion in 2009, according to Forrester Research. In 1999, that revenue figure topped $14.6 billion.

That's a big decline and those dollars represent a lot of hands within the world of music. Artists, musicians, producers, engineers, distributors and of course when was the last time you saw a record store? The article goes on to say it's due to the economy or free downloads but I think they are missing the mark. I think what's killing the music industry is the simple convenience of the internet itself. And you can define that as free downloads if you want but the fact is even as I type this blog, I'm listening to a station that I created myself that fits around my own tastes. A playlist that's tailored to fit around what I enjoy so why in the world would I want to buy anything? What's the point of that?

This is such a change from the old regular radio stations that either stuck to a commercial playlist or certain style of music that surrounds a target market. Not to mention the ownership of music with huge record albums that needed to be felt cleaned and dust tree, the eight track tapes that all had wrinkled labels due to a bleaching sun or a cassette tape that was recently eaten by an Alpine stereo that you picked out for the Trans-Am. 

And finally the CD that became so scratched it released a sort of du du du du du du du du du sound which you kept trying to clean with rubbing alcohol.

Is it good change? I can tell you the change doesn't sit well with the music industry but as a listener of music, I love what I'm able to do with the ease of a button. However, as a lover of music I miss the anticipation surrounding the release of a new album or song by one of my favorite artists. I miss times like the ones spent with my father ordering a K-Tel eight track tape loaded with legends of rock and roll.

I miss the Anticipation...

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway,
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasin' after some finer day

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'

–Carly Simon