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INTERNET KILLED THE RADIO STAR

Georgie

2009-04-29 15:33:40

Arts & Entertainment

About the only person I know who still buys CDs is my dad. This isn't surprising, since he's also the same person who happens to have the biggest musical catalogue I've ever encountered. Vinyl, 8-Track, Reel-to-Reel, Cassette, CD - he's covered it all. Today, I was listening to a cover of Kanye West's "Say You Will" by Mos Def, provided through Kanye's blog. Hit by a wave of nostalgia, I was pulled back to grade 9.

There I was, walking down the aisle of the yellow school bus, discman in hand. I was beaming, because I had just bought Mos Def's "Black on Both Sides" and Lucy Pearl's self-titled album. In my backpack, I had the two CD cases, which I diligently studied as we drove the bus route to the high school. Those two albums remain in my top 20 favourite. I still have the original discs and cases, but have transfered them both into my itunes for more "convenient accessibility."

"Convenient accessibility" - this is the problem. A few weeks ago, I was at my parent's house playing Scrabble with my Dad and flicking through a booklet that accompanied a compilation CD he had just purchased when he began lamenting the slow extinction of CDs. He listed all the things we will lose if music goes completely digital: cover art, lyrics, production notes, a crisper sound. It's so true, too. The great thing about having a hard copy of music is that you can reference it. In being able to do so, you draw on the nostalgia surrounding that album. It wouldn't be the same memory-evoking experience for me to scroll through my itunes and see the "Black on Both Sides" and "Lucy Pearl" albums listed. I have to physically hold those albums in my hand or visualize the cover art and that bus ride the first day I listened to them excitedly.

I appreciate the musical accessibility offered through the internet - I download songs all the time. But this hasty interaction we have with music nowadays has caused a loss in our connection (and perhaps appreciation) of the hard-copy album form. I think it's safe to say you take a longer and more in depth first listen of a record when you are forced to pay for it. I don't know how many times I have clicked through a mediocre song list on my itunes, ultimately writing it off and eventually deleting it afterwards. But with a tangible CD or record, you feel obliged to "get your money's worth." In past, I have bought albums and initially disliked them. But because I've paid in full for them, I force myself to re-listen. Take Mos Def's "The New Danger," for example. I was heavily disappointed by that record at first. But, after a few listens, it grew on me. All because I had committed to buying the CD.

I'm not against downloading, I think sharing music digitally is important, and - yes - convenient. But there is so much lost through the process of downloading. I won't even get into the losses felt by the artists and record companies; that's a whole other can of worms. What it comes down to is nostalgia: I just hope we don't let the internet kill the radio star in favor of a few easy clicks. Think about it: our mp3's can't get scratched like a CD can. Hard copies are literally more precious.


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