Speakers Corner: The LF Forum > Last night a download saved my life

Hey folks

Very shortly we will be doing a podcast that is focussed on the changes in music technology over the last decades... and how that has affected the way we listen to music now... and in the future.

We'd very much like to hear your thoughts and opinions on subject: Do you still buy CD's? or mostly download? Legally... o illegally (don't worry, we won't tell!). Where do you go to hear new music? Do you still listen to broadcast radio? Internet radio?

Please drop us a line ( or post something here on this thread and we'll consider it as part of our discussion on the podcast!


DJF, Dan, Imran and co.

July 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterDenis-Jose Francois

Well this is a subject I feel strongly about.

I used to be an avid collector of Music, vinyl singles, cassettes and then CDs. I would track down CDs by artist I was interested in and would spend a lot of money on them but I was not an obsessive carer for them and so my collection of empty CD cases and CDs without cases and scratched CD grew or shrank because they were stolen or lost. I would have piles of random CDs in no particular order, one ones I bought that I never listened too or bought and was just crap. There was no way to sample new music, you had to borrow a CD or buy it. The radio in Ireland was pretty bad too. I never felt at ease with my access to music, I always wanted more, I knew there was music out there that I had never heard of and I just could not get to it or I was not willing to make a financial investment to try it out.

And the low and behold the MP3 arrived!!! It was an immediate revelation to me and I have not bought a CD in over 10 years (except at friends gigs or live stuff but still not really). All your music stored alphabetically, except for rare computer error never fail or scratch. Easy to share great quality (most of the time and am not counting or discounting the audiophiles opion, I'll talk to you later, but for general use they are great).

I have to admit that I'm am a pirate, I just think that the music companies charge too much money, they charge the same price as a CD but without the media. I know that they have invested huge amounts of money in the delivery system but I think it is too expensive. I know that because of people like me many bands have suffered due to the music industry being hit hard and being unsure so will not take as many risks as before but I think they have had it their own way too long and I believe the music industry needs to change. I believe due to this there has been a big shift in how bands have to get known and how to get their music out there and I'm delighted that 'the gig' is back! Bands now have to tour and gig now to make their money and this is a good thing I believe. There are studio bands and there are live bands but you just cant beat a good gig and it is one of the best places to experience music.

As for new music I get it from everywhere, BBC 6 music is one of the best radio stations I ahve ever been into, they strive to play new music and never of it is really chart stuff and all the DJs are just passionate for music and I love that. I dont really pirate music anymore as it is availabel freely with grooveshark and the like (spotify I have deserted you you whore) and I think this is the future, THE MUSIC COLLECTION IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE INFINITE MUSIC COLLECTION!!! I listen to different music constantly, whether it be exploring other peoples playlists or recommendations form people it is all there and at great quality and just so easy and legal!!! So am free of guilt and free to listen to anything I want. I'm a voracious listener to a constant changing playlist of music and I finally feel at ease and satisfied with my access to music.

P.s. Few years ago I lived with a record player for a bit and am planning to get a vinyl collection going again when I have the space but that's a different story.

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLes Davis


With a bit of luck, the return to bands doing gigs (if that is truly the case... are there any statistics?) might mean a return to actual music. Although my fear is that music in this country will split into what people listen to live and what people listen to everywhere else. That's kind of how it is in America. Live music is hugely popular over there, yet they churn out huge quantities of pre-fab crap into the charts.

there is a very interesting TED talk by David Byrne (not really related to this, but kind of) about music being composed for the ideal listening venue.


My question is what happens when that venue is a pair of headphones?


July 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterDenis-Jose Francois

Interesting read Les - I'm glad you posted!

I'll definitely throw my name in the hat as another that thinks music is too expensive - it's always surprised me that with sales down, bootlegs up, record companies, HMV, etc never really seemed to introduce more competitive overall pricing. Personally though, I still buy CDs religiously - my iPod doesn't house an album without, where possible, it having stemmed from a hardcopy that I've purchased and takes pride of place amongst my shelving.

The 'gig is back' is an interesting point - it's one I actually hear a lot and if I'm honest, it doesn't really make much sense to me - do people feel live music went somewhere? Typing this, I'm wondering if it's an actual fact that artists definitely tour far more than they used to, which I would then understand but I've spoken to people who feel that illegal downloads have made artists realise they can't be lazy and now have to go out and work for their money. It's an interesting viewpoint but not necessarily one I'd agree with (the latter theory, not necessarily the point you were making.)

I kinda agree that the music industry needs to change a little - personally, the change I'd like to see more than anything is more investment in the artist. Might sound like a cliche point but it really grates me when I hear some new pop act has been given an opportunity, didn't meet sales expectations first time out, and instead of rethinking and strategising, they're dumped. It's sad that record labels need to chase the big hit, the big single, but that's what the industry's evolved into because I guess it doesn't have the money to reinvest like it used to.

July 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterI M S

I think that for a while, at least, live music did 'go away' in some forms. Mostly at small pubs & bars. For example... in the late 80's when my & my mates started going out to pubs and bars on a regular basis, there would nearly always be a live act at least one day of the week (or more) at nearly all of our local boozers. These would be bands, or singers or whatever... doing either original or covers... some rubbish, some awesome. Towards the end of the 90s these were nearly universally replaced with either TVs or DJs. And to be honest, now even the DJs are disappearing.

This is symptomatic of the entire industry. Live replaced by pre-recorded. Audio replaced by video.

Next time you are in a pub, have a look see how many people are wearing headphones... you might be surprised.

July 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterDenis-Jose Francois

" people feel live music went somewhere?" music obviously changes all the time like fashion, 90s was Techno and now that is all but gone. For me in the 00s it was pub DJs spinning tunes, great fun but not a live event. I think the gig is back as instead of people trying to just get signed they now have to work to make it on the live circuit. Get a following and promote them selves on Internet and so forth, this is one way. So in a way it better and more accessible to be a musician as you have so many more options now that the 'only way to make it is to get signed' way. So I think in that respect the gig is very much back, wither you follow your fav band on twitter and that's how you find gigs or listen to them on myspace or other Internet services it is much more available.

As for change in industry I really think they have to not only change but revolutionise the industry and some people are doing that like with grooveshark, hypemachine. Is like micro labels and everybody can publish.
As for labels nurturing artists I don't think this has ever worked out for anybody but the label. They only have their interests at heart and the artist can suffer (Hendrix a perfect example, he had £3 left in his account when he died).

As for what Denis said about chart stuff that is all just candy for the brain and a self perpetuating money machine, the charts to me mean absolutely nothing. I think they are a dated system that is completely run by the labels and marketing to make coin. Most artists want to 'make it' so will turn to pop, I have friends that have done this and it has not worked so far for them. So as much as the charts is a sort of necessary thing it is also generates a lot of 'pre-fab crap' as you say but it also drives the rest of industry so it has to be. It is up to us to tune out the crapola.

July 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterLes Davis

Hooray, I feel quite strongly about this one hehe.
I'm of the opinion that anything you can download online people feel comfortable to steal. This being because there's the mask of anonymity that comes with the nameless faceless world of the internet. The piracy adverts on DVD's "YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A CAR.." etc are right on the money.. No, we wouldn't steal a CD from the music store.. For one thing, we have much higher a risk of being caught and penalised for it, the peer mentality in a shop is totally reversed from the peer mentality online, you aren't going to be considered a vigilante for stopping someone from seeding a torrent.. and finally it is a solid object that you aren't going to lose when your computer is wiped clean by the virus that was happily humming along to the tune on the last song of the album, so a download is more expendable and therefore less of a big deal.. There is a surreal sense that everything on the internet is fleeting, and unreal, helped along by the demise of websites, and the disposable nature of technology ridding you of old downloads.
It's not like they're making people WANT to buy legitimately either, after all there is a lot of effort to remove all of the encryption they set CD's up with these days just to get the thing onto your iPod. Buying through iTunes is a joke too, if you lose your files, they give you a handful go's at re-downloading on about 5 different computers (upgrading windows somehow counts as a brand new computer also), and sticks an ever-so lovely passcode lock on your track, so that if you forget exactly what pseudonym you were masquerading as at the time you bought that BEATLES REMASTERED album, you've potentially lost it, and the best way to get it back at no extra cost? Download it for free..
Another factor is how fruitful the entertainment industry is, with or without album sales. They will make their money from live gig ticket sales, and all sorts of other PR related ventures. You can't download the band itself.. (yet ;))
Additionally, this is a more personal one here, but what if the music is rubbish? If you've legitimately bought that album, and finally get around to listening, only to discover it's awful, perhaps you will never listen again, and you certainly wouldn't feel that selling it or even giving it to someone else would be fair on the ears of the next poor sod to try the band out. So this very real, cluttery, thing is now pointlessly collecting dust somewhere.
I personally just check out a band on Spotify, and if I love them, I buy the album legitimately eventually, or that's my plan anyway.
I do feel a moral obligation to help the little guys though.. If there's an up-and-coming band that have no funds to get themselves going, and really aren't a part of the big scary media conglomeration just yet, I want to give them a helping hand. That way when they've made it big, I totally got them there ;) and can begin judging them profusely.. as music lovers do.
Apologies for the essay and for if any of this has already been said! (I will probably think of more later and curse the immediacy of my posting!)
Cola (Or Nicola)

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicola Brown

Nicola. or should I call you cola?

Thanks for your thoughts. I just want to address a couple things your wrote, for the sake of being devils advocate.

"Buying through iTunes is a joke too, if you lose your files, they give you a handful go's at re-downloading on about 5 different computers "

Surely, though, that's better than if you lost or broke a physical CD? After all, if you returned to HMV with 'Back to Black' in a handful of pieces because you sat on it, they would surely laugh you out of the shop. The fact that they actually let you download it again is quite something!

And these days there is no DRM on the tracks, so you are free to play them on other devices. the DRM was enforced by the record companies until steve jobs famously challanged them do remove it, after he got tired of everyone villifiying apple for it: thoughts on music

"Additionally, this is a more personal one here, but what if the music is rubbish?"

What do you do if the Movie you have paid to see in the cinema is rubbish? costs more than a CD normally, but all you can do is walk out. you'll never get your money back.

But I agree completely that there is a strange sense of entitlement that has grown up around the internet. 'It's not there physically, therefore it is free.'

So where do you buy your music Cola? Online or do you still buy CDs? After you've checked it all out on spotify, of course.

July 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterDenis-Jose Francois

All very good points, I understand totally the piracy is theft argument and it is in a way. I did shoplift a double cassette of 'Now that's what I call music' (the first one, now that is showing my age) and I have to say it was more thrilling then just downloading something and I got caught for it too so the low was there too. I see downloading as more like copying a CD from somebody or making a tape of a something. I know that is not strictly legal but I believe if you buy something then you should own it and be able to do what you like with it. I know because of Internet that make it so easy to share anything so has widened the goal posts but we have all copied a CD or tape from somebody.

There is one more vital thing we are all forgetting about the move to MP3 compared to CD and dare I say it vinyl.....
It is very difficult to roll a 'cigarette' on the back of an MP3!!!

July 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterLes Davis

All very sound points, will try not to replicate any but apologies if I do:

CDS: Scratch too easily, take up too much space and have never had any second hand value - you spend £10-20 one week on a CD and the next its worth £3. I used to look forward to buying CDs but now i have too many and curse that i own the damn things. I liked mini-discs - shame that format died.

MP3s: I know there are other formats like Flac/Apple lossless files etc that are high quality but my main issue with the mp3 is the quality, sure at 300kps it isn't bad - but it still isn't the quality it should or could be.

Gigs: Because we hear more music through the internet (spotify etc) and free and illegal downloads it means we are more likely to go to gigs because
a) We've actually heard the band in question (how many bands out there would tour in the past and no-one would turn up because they were unpublished and their music not accesible)
b) Bands now HAVE to tour to make money

Competition: There is more equality about digital consumption whether it be pirate or paid for. In the not to distant past those bands that made it and had record label backing were sometimes just 'lucky or in some way privelidged' those bands that got heard/published weren't always the most talented out there. Nowadays a band or artist doesn't have to have fat cat record companies throwing millions at them to have millions of fans (although money still rules and all so does sh*te like the XFactor and the morons that lap it up).

Making Money: Bands need to look at themself as a 'brand' i.e. there icononlogy, logos, artwork becomes part of the music -which sounds a bit pretentious but if bands can bring other aspects of art into their PR and marketing then they can monetise what they do. NIN, Wu Tang and a lot of Hip Hop acts do this well, with clothing lines and head phone lines and so on and so on. Not saying all bands have to sell branded shoes and hoodies but they do need to look at what they are doing beyond the music. Maybe they need to make a lot of their music available for download for free or remixes and b-sides and then sell other songs on the same site, maybe give some proceeds for songs to charity, maybe release garage band files so that others can remix their work, or do what Kaiser Chiefs did and allow the customers to choose which 12 songs make up the album and add their own artwork and then profit from their choice. Bands have to be creative these days, laying down some cool tracks is just the beginning.

Bands should say - hey if you buy our album we'll give you a free ticket to a gig, or access to a fan only sale or money off or a free t-shirt...........OR SOME ADDED VALUE that makes us go f*ck yeah!

As consumers we can't go on taking everything for free but we need to be give a lead in, a demo, a taster to hook us in, we need looking after by those that want our money and attention, we need to be part of the band or artist's community, able to communicate with the band, suggest tracking lists, set lists. Music should be an interactive consumption with user generated content/participation. We want more for our money!

July 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTheRealRodHull

Can we get some stats on this? Anyone? I'm very curious now about the numbers. Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? Beuller?...

July 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterDenis-Jose Francois

I once nicked Paris Guerilla Funk from Ourprice whilst on the worst ever work experience placement ever - i got chucked off because the staff were so thick that when they tried to give me rubbish jobs to do and took the p*ss out of me I actually cussed them back rather too intelligently and they didn't like that!

but for some reason my friends were always able to whip stuff from Sam Goody???

July 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTheRealRodHull

What I do is I listen (more on grooveshark actually, I just wanna keep it free for as long as possible so don't wanna spread it's awesomeness haha) then search online for the cheapest copy of a physical CD, buy it, keep it in its packaging "mint condition" then download the album to listen to, because I then have the right to do so :D

July 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicola Brown

Well I'll be... I just read in the Metro that it was illegal to copy music from a CD to your computer. I honestly didn't know that was specifically a crime. I used the past tense because as a part of "sweeping reforms to copyright law", it is no longer illegal.

August 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterI M S

that is technically a crime in the UK. not in the USA. Not sure about other countries. No one has ever been prosecuted for this though, as far as I'm aware.

August 7, 2011 | Registered CommenterDenis-Jose Francois