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Thursday
Aug132009

I'm A 30 Year Old Music Fan - Is That Bad? [Part 1]

Turning 30 is evil.  It really is.  All of those infinite possibilities that come with being a young, budding, 20-something go-getter are now gone.  By 30, you're not supposed to be a 'go-getter', you're supposed to be a 'go-gotter', but for me, at 30 - I feel like I'm still trying to catch up.

I still genuinely don't know what Twitter is - thankfully I haven't reached the age where I'll condemn it for being some new fandangled unnecessary gimmick, designed to keep people on their computers and away from the real world (I'm not that old yet), I just don't know what it is and don't really have any desire to.  But, again, that's me - I'm a technophobe who's always playing catch-up.  I only converted to an IPod this year, and at the time of writing this, have only had one for 8 months.  Prior to getting Marvin (yes, I named him), I was the 30 year old who was on the train holding his portable CD player in hand, or balancing it on his knee, while he read the morning Metro newspaper.  I have to say, it's no fun having school children snigger at you - not only does it make me feel old, but also uncool, and being uncool is something I'm not prepared to accept being yet.

Clearly, change is something that's not all bad - I remember flicking through my CDs each morning to figure out which ONE I'd be taking along for my commute, but resist as much as I did, being able to hold 5,462 songs in the palm of my hand is something that still blows my mind.  That's change I CAN embrace (albeit reluctantly); change I CAN'T embrace however is that all of this seems to be at the expense of the shiny, lovable circular device called... the CD.

I'm not sure if it's the obsessive music collector in me, but I'm somewhat proud to say that I don't own a single digital album that hasn't been legally purchased via a CD.  It was always an exciting thing for me, delving into the production booklet as I skip through the songs on the CD soaking in the opening few seconds of each track - reading familiar names as producers, songwriters and session musicians, and learning new ones too.  The idea that we're not very far away from a major label announcing a leading contemporary artist's new album as solely being available to purchase by download only, keeps me awake at night.  It really does.  Well, no, maybe not, but it does bother me.

The worst thing about MP3s, and I dare say there are many like-minded music geeks that will agree, is the loss of the one-time glorious mixtape.  Remember those?  There was a time when creating a mixtape was one of the most affectionate and intimate things a guy could do for a girl.  The picking of the perfect selection, the arrangement, and the fact that you HAD to sit there while each song played in its entirety, all meant something.  Nowadays, she just sits at my PC clicking and dragging what she wants for her MP3 player, which she hasn't even bothered to name.  That's not the same thing!  At least with mix-CDs you could take the time to construct the order and tell your own story still, but, in many ways, that wasn't the same either.

I used to churn mixtapes out at uni.  Genuinely, people would always ask me for them - I was known as that floppy haired kid who made really cool mixtapes, and it was a real delight to prepare them.  FYI, D90s were always the way to go - D120s were just ridiculously long, but D90 was perfect length.

I recently had a conversation with Tom Brown, who heads up the incredible independent hip-hop record label, Lex Records, and we were going back and forth about emerging music technologies, shifts in the music industry, and the internet, and he said, "Why would you want to be without access to all the music in the world?".  He's right.  That's an undeniable blessing that the World Wide Web has offered us, but does anyone feel like the internet's contributed to ruining the mystique a little?  I remember a time when people really knew nothing about a record until it hit the shelves, but now complete tracklisting, album covers and details are outlined explicitly months before the release and, if you wait a day or two more, you'll find the actual album MP3s floating around as well.

So, what about me?

Where do I go now?

In this fast-paced world with new and rising technology, higher demands, shorter attention spans, less money and more talent than ever before, where does a 30 year old, sentimental music fan such as myself fit in?  No doubt I'll continue to trail behind, but whatever happens from here on in, as long as me and Marvin have each other, I'm sure we'll be fine.

Reader Comments (1)

I totally embrace the digital and MP3 age, in fact I wouldn't ever want to go back to the past and I am 32.

Doesn't mean I don't miss buying Cds and the sound quality of those and mini-discs. We sacrifice sound quality for convenience now, few people realise the crap kps/quality of what they are listening to on their Iphones. Piracy and downloading has killed the romanticism in music but made live music and touring far more important.

And...I miss special edition CDs and inlay cards also, I am a big collector and yet now i rarely buy CDs. I missed out on the Vinyl age but i loved having a CD collection but not the prices i had to pay for imports and rare cds.

I am glad that the record companies have lost their monopolies but as much as i hate to say this - piracy is unfair - if we continue to download music, books and films for free all those industries will die off.

That said the film industry could do with realising we don't want to pay over £10 to see a movie. So it's about getting the balance right. The last CDs I have bought have come with ltd edition t-shirts and/or have been signed. I think band's realise they have to offer something that is more value for money these days to make people buy their album, gone are the days when HMV could charge £20 for a CD just because they only had two in stock.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLostInMusak

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