Thursday, January 3, 2008

Listening to a Tape

I did something I haven't done in years; I listened to a tape today, and that was really fun. I've forgotten how it's kind of nice to relinquish control of your listening experience... finding it cool to listen to a mixed tape someone put their love and time into for your listening enjoyment.

I remember making my own mix tapes and it was always something that you took your time to do and something you did for people who you really wanted to connect with. It took a lot of time and it wasn't a point click and burn kind of thing. It was taking the time to make sure that the tape was working right. Making sure you're on the right spot. Rewind, fast forward, getting just the right transition between songs...

Some of my closest friends in high school made me mixed tapes and there was something that we shared that I didn't share with other people because your choice of music is so defining. It seems a little different now, because everyone can check out everything at the click of a button, but even 10 years ago, you could share a tape and that was the only access to listen to someones eclectic tastes. It was like you found a tape and you found some person and her music you'd forgotten about and you really can't just get that at the click of a button.

It's less likely today that you or I might go to the record store and browse through the rack. I used to love to go to those used record places, view CDs and browse for an hour and poke at every mislabeled thing or ones without a label or one that were turned the wrong way and check out what that music was too cheap and hope it was something"good".

When I browsed those record stores it was always that sense of discovery that you were after. And that sense of discovery in the last few years has disappeared, when you can just search the internet. It's not a physical experience, it's a kind of a very disconnected experience, where if I put in the right search word I will get what I want and didn't have to work very hard for it. You and your friends aren't the ones putting their time into sharing music.

This ubiquitousness of music means that it is owned by everyone, which is good, but people like to have that sense of knowing something other people don't know or having that access that someone else doesn't have, which I think is now found by going to live concerts and saying, "Yeah, I've seen them live," and that live experience is becoming more profound for the very reason that you can't search and buy it on demand.

That live experience is what a lot of music people are talking about. And you can't replicate that on the Internet. You can't replicate that with a CD either. And so that's what bands are going to need to market and monetize, and to find their niches, with a their live show. And if you don't have a great live show, it might be hard to monetize your scene because once you post your music on the Internet, it's they're for everyone.

I believe then, that the experience of seeing the live show will define the music of the next generation, but probably ride right along side the experience of recorded music. They may well diverge in different way than we expected because of how drastically different listening expectations are now and will be in just a few years.

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