Thursday, December 18, 2008

At What Point Is Too Available...Well...Too Available?

Starting to write this, i feel like i'm 50 billionth...actually, being the person that reaches a round number makes it look like something special so no, i feel like i'm the 56 236 986 581 person to give this but i don't care, i need to say this.

The discussion is always there, the words always repeated; music is way too available to everybody in this day and age on the internet; want an album by a polka band from Russia? Get on Soulseek and you'll find thousands to choose from, Want a promo version of Kreator's next album? Just google it the right way and you'll score, Feeling like listening to Throbbing Gristle's pummeling TG24+ box set, or better yet to the infamous 50 disc behemoth that is the Merzbox? There's probably a well-seeded torrent to download from.

Yet all the geezers and the snobs point out regularly that having so much music made available to the public is making them cherish it less than back in the good ol' days when AIDS didn't ruin unsafe sex and skyscrappers were made of chocolate; everything is so disposable now, how can you love it?

I'll give it my take on all this.

I think it's bollocks that, if something's (relatively) easily available, then it's worthless; i've found many of my very favorite bands and artists, old and new, by downloading albums by them; if it wasn't for the internet, i probably would have never even hear about Loop since most of their shit is out of print, just to give you an example.

Back in the day (yes, i'm saying it with a straight face and can't believe it), if i wanted to check out a band i didn't know that was not on the radio in any form i had two options: a) i'd gamble my way in and buy the album in a store for literally 4 times de normal price (i live in a country where most albums i like aren't domestic) or b) i'd buy a pirate cassette copy of an album. Even buying a bootleg tape was difficult, you couldn't just waltz into a street corner and ask for the new Pavement joint, let alone, say, a Teengenerate record and forget it if you wanted to give Captain Beefheart a listen, it just didn't exist; locating a good pirate tape booth was difficult but not impossible, and once there, you had to make do with what they had; i remember getting an Earache sampler because it had TWO Brutal Truth songs and i desperately wanted Brutal Truth material to listen to, sure the tape also featured Godflesh, Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Entombed and Cathedral, but i really didn't like any of them (except for Entombed), i was only interested in Brutal Truth and that's all i could get then (years after, i learned to appreciate and love the other 4 bands in the comp).

Another method was taping shit yourself; a friend had something that you absolutely wanted to hear for yourself, so you asked him/her to borrow the tape/cd and then you'd make your copy, or maybe he/she made the copy for you; i had to actually build a cable, literally build a cable (with help from my mom) to record from my Walkman to the house stereo because it wasn't a double deck thing, i also used to xerox the covers and then color them myself, no matter if it was actual photographs. The only Stone Temple Pilots album i own in my tape collections is a very cartoonesque colored copy of Purple, while my Danzig's 4 booklet has the side lid completely drawn by my unsteady, 13-year old hand and is so black, you can't make of any of the printed lyrics...none more black indeed.

So, you'd think downloading has solved any of our harebrained schemes to actually listen to music that probably might make us orgasm to sleep at night and fuel our dreams in pursuit of everything's that amazing in life for us...but it hasn't. For many many people, downloading an album can be as tricky as freestyle rapping in french with only a beginners lesson under your belt; it's fucking unbelievable but people CAN'T GOOGLE, either they can't type and haven't even looked at how they spell their beloved band's name or they get lazy when looking at 500+ results and the first page of results don't have any direct links (refining a search is an alien concept to these people, it seems). Worse of all, people think they are entitled to have the album they are looking for for free, getting hostile over people and calling them "dix" and "azzzholez" because they dare make their lazy, cheap ass selves look harder for the mp3s they can probably easily buy.

I download a lot, a whole fucking lot in fact, but that doesn't affect my listening experience or my excitement over music; in fact, in a lot of circumstances, i have to look hard and suffer for my downloading. I listen to a lot of noise, improv, drone and such, shit that is released in micro-editions by closet labels that go out of print in seconds; sometimes i look for a release for weeks, and once i find it, i sometimes have to wait forever for it to download completely, not to mention many of these releases are done on tape and vinyl, which makes it not more difficult but a lot more tiring for the kind person who rips the material and uploads for the people; a few months ago, i struggled to find a clip of about 3 minutes of Jason Zeh's music that hardly represents his work, but it had to do to show someone more or less what he did. Currently, it's probably going to take me months to download every disc of SPK's box Vinyl On Demand put out this year, but you bet it will be sweet to finally listen to it once everything's in my hard drive, just as it was sweet to listen to the 10-disc Improvised Music From Japan box i downloaded a few months back, and that didn't take much effort to download, relatively speaking.

So, music is music, more people are listening to it and more people who are predisposed to not really care about it will not care about much, but they'll listen to it; for us who really live for this, things don't change, whether you're awaiting patiently for your mailorder or being queued to download all of Whitehouse's original Aktions, the moment those notes that really mean something to you will sound as sweet as they need to be, the morans and freeloaders be damned.

No comments: