Vinyls in the Stream
Isn't technology wonderful! You don't have to think too far back to realise just how far we've come. The internet has given us so many things, we didn't think possible just a few years ago. We can connect to people all around the world like never before, thanks to sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We have 'apps' on our mobile phones that mean we can play games against people we've never met, and probably never will. Practically any song ever can not only be downloaded, but 'streamed' over the digital superhighway right to our ears. Isn't technology wonderful? Well, no,...it isn't. (Apart from the fact it's letting you read this, but let's not dwell on that, it really doesn't help my argument! ;-)
I love music. I've wrote a few blogs about my passion for it over the years. I love hearing a song for the first time, falling in love with it almost instantly and listening to it on repeat. I delight in rediscovering songs that I've long since forgotten about. I adore the memories songs can reinvigorate in my often befuddled brain, reminding me of places I've been, people I've met and things I've done in my life. They have a power like no other.
Of course, technology has made this simpler than ever. Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, even YouTube have an almost endless supply of songs you can call upon when you want music. It should be nirvana (the place, not the band), but for me, it has everything, yet it's still lacking something.
We think nothing of firing up iTunes to buy music now. There are literally millions of songs on there, all available sample, pre-order, buy, download or listen to; they all hold a snippet of the rhythm that lays beneath it's price tag. You could spend hours, days, even weeks just searching its electronic library, going from artist to artist, song to song, listening to samples of them. The music world at your fingertips. It doesn't get better than that surely. How could we possibly improve on it! I'll tell you how, get rid of it!
My passion for music started when I was little, listening to my Dad's or my brother's records when they weren't around. I didn't care if the artist was cool, I don't think I even knew if they were or not. It didn't matter. Those black, vinyl discs with the groove, held so much potential. As I grew, my tastes became ever more eclectic. I didn't care who it was, if I liked the song, I liked the song. Even now, my music library is more diverse than ever and I love it.
In my teenage years, I'd spend what spare time I could and whatever money I had on music. I'd visit local music stores every chance I got. On some shopping trips to town, I'd do nothing more than visit record shops. Peter's Records, Alan Fearnley, Playback, even HMV were my home from home. I'd spend hours flicking through rows upon rows of albums, 7" and 12" singles and these new, fangled compact discs. They'll never catch on, you mark my words.
I didn't always even know what I was looking for, I was open to anything. If it caught my eye, had great album art, was from an artist I'd previously bought or even just sounded like a good song from its title, I'd buy it.
Albums, remixes, rare imports, coloured vinyl, they were all fair game. I loved it. I love the atmosphere of the shop, I loved the smell of the sleeves, I loved the ragged wear and tear on the cover, I loved the stickers on the sleeve, I loved reading who produced, wrote or remixed the song. It took hours and I loved every minute of it. As nerdy as it might all sound, it was incredibly therapeutic, even at a time I didn't know what 'therapeutic' even meant. It relaxed me and it made me happy. What more can you want!
Sadly, it's a dying art nowadays. Records shops, for the most part, have disappeared and with them, some simple pleasures that will never be replaced. There are still some around and they still hold that aura, but it's getting harder and harder for addicts like me.
Instead now we have iTunes and Spotify, with their perfect artwork, untouchable product and the ability to listen to almost any song ever before buying. Even downloading seems outdated now we have streaming.
Songs fly over the ether whenever you want or wherever you are. You don't even have to buy a song to listen to it now. It's great isn't it? Well no, it bloody isn't! Bring back the old-fashioned record shops, bring back vinyl, bring back the hard work it took to find the song you wanted. The pay off feels and sounds so much better!