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Monday, June 6, 2011

Me and New Music - a love on hold ...

Anm.: Deutsche Version dieses Blogs hier.

Since the age of 12 (which is over 30 years ago ... holy cow!), I have been buying records for myself.

Back then, those came in the shape of vinyl LPs, singles and (from a bit later on) maxi singles: A long thin line of music, curled up and scratched into the surface of a flat, black disk. And, lo and behold, if you turned it around, there was yet another spiral of sound, that the needle of my record player would decipher and transform into sounds, by riding along that line, moved past him by the endless turning of the turntable.

Believe me, until this very day, the sheer concept of microscopically small scratches and dents that contain music fascinates me, and yet I'm unable to really understand how it works. Don't bother to explain it to me ... has been done countless times over the years, but still, the sheer physical principle is not what makes me grasp the matter and be enlightened.

Fascination and amazement without real understanding - that does it for me, no problem.


From Analog to Digital

When the big change came, by the invention of the Compact Disc (compact name: CD), I reluctantly ventured on that path. It meant to buy a new device, because CDs are sound and have a hole in the middle, but this is how far the similarity to LPs goes ... playing a CD on a record player will yield you very unsatisfying results. Don't bother to try it out, but take it from me ...

As the CD rose, the LP pretty much became extinct, and I made the transition - buying fewer and fewer LPs, checking out newly published CDs instead, and, years later, even starting to buy records I already owned on LP in the new digital form.

Digital - a new term that blew my mind. Had I been already unable to grasp the acoustic concept of the good old LP, I was puzzled tenfold when trying to wrap my head around the idea of the digital form of data storage and how a long row of Ones and Zeros would end up producing music that came out of my speakers.

Again: Don't bother to explain it to me ... my brain is just not made for processing this kind of information.

So I had gotten myself arranged with the new music medium, bought CDs, enjoyed the higher level of comfort they offered, and took the good with the bad - bad being for example that cover artwork now happened on the surface of a crummy small booklet, which is no comparison to good artwork on an LP cover. But well ...


The Rise of Music Downloads 
From Something to Close to Nothing

Another quantum leap happened when the phenomenon started that you could buy your music directly by data download from retailers like Amazon and iTunes. It was a quantum leap of a special sort: From Something to Close to Nothing.

The CD had offered more quality and conveniences on a smaller medium, But at least, you could still see the thing, take it in your hands, and put it on your record shelf. With the new revolution, all of that was gone ... Sheer data files, stored on your computer's hard drive. Cover artwork? Nothing doing. Well, to be fair: At times, you will receive a digital booklet, brought to you as a PDF file. But, seriously: That's like having a picture of a good meal in a JPEG file - it does not fill the format.

I don't want to discuss the pros and cons of digital music downloads here. Instead, I am headed for yet another quantum leap for me ...


From Close to Nothing to Really Nothing!

New music, published by the modern times giant companies like Warner Music Group (WMG), Sony Music Entertainment (SME), Universal Music Group (UMG), Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) and whatnot, does not happen for me any more. Why is that? I'll tell you.

Over the last three (soon to be four) years, I have discovered a rich potential of new music on YouTube. I discovered songs and artists, and made the sales assistants in my favourite (offline) record store break out in sweat when they saw me enter the store - because they knew that I had discovered some new weird ("Never heard the name before! How do you spell it again?") band / singer / instrumentalist, and would now have my personal slave (aka favourite sales assistant) explore the databases of their national and international wholesalers, to check whether he could at least order the records that I wanted for me ... checking the shelves in the store for them was almost always in vain.

So YouTube was a constant source of inspiration and discovery for me, for artists from around the world. But that gravy train has ended.

Due to the endless struggle of the German office for royalty fees (GEMA, "Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte") and YouTube, about how much money YouTube has to pay for the right to show music videos / videos that contain copyrighted music, and the inability of both sides to finally come to a settlement for more than three years now, Germany has become a desert when it comes to watching music videos on YouTube.

All I get is a message that says

"This video contains content from [insert name of snooty and greedy record company here]. It is not available in your country"

or even more plain and simple

"This video is not available in your country."

Not available, because some stubborn parties are unable to find a settlement, and this for three years in a row now?

I call that Kindergarten. And, sorry: I am too old for this childish crap; I'm out.

If record companies treat German customers like second class beings, only because they are unable to find a solution for a problem that is more than easy to solve, I see no reason to support them, by buying CDs or DVDs from those companies.

And so, this latest evolutionary step in the development of my love for music really was the one from something to nothing. At least when it concerns music licensed by big-headed record companies.


But you know what? My love and desire to discover new and fascinating music has not ended due to what I just described. There are so many unsigned talents out there, who write, sing and play their own songs, and who ever so often do an awesome job with that - so I'm good.




geriatric1927 said...

Yes I feel your pain and than the Lord that there are many talented people here on YouTube who can entertain us with their music.

geriatric1927 said...

should be "thank" not "than" in last message

whoope found the hash key on Mac. why do they hide it so cleverly?