This afternoon, I was streaming music from the web. I would think of a song that I really wanted to hear and find a version on YouTube or MySpace. Completely spoiled by the free and immediate availability of music, I realized something: when I was in elementary and middle school, I would literally wait hours for a song to play on the radio.
The best radio stations from New York City at the time were K-Rock (no longer exists), WPLJ, and Z100 (was an alternative rock, now a top 40 station). I would come home from school and listen to the radio while doing homework. Many times, I called the radio stations to request my favorite song of the moment. When the song finally played, I would record it to a cassette tape.
Once I taped the song, I could listen to it whenever I wanted! The best new songs were usually played on the radio before the album release. For this reason, recorded songs were more valuable than gold.
Now, I can simply purchase a song whenever I want! I just open my iTunes music store, pay the fee, and download the song. I can even find similar artists and songs using tools like Pandora and Last.fm.
Has easy access to music ruined my enjoyment of it?
Twitter member @yellowdresses writes, “I really think it’s ruined it. I’ve thought about it a lot. Though it’s more accessible I’m inclined to research it less. Weird.”
I still get excited when I hear my favorite-song-of-the-moment on the radio. The problem is that most of the New York City radio stations play pop and hip-hop; I like these genres in moderation, but I have trouble getting excited about any particular song. Therefore, I usually have to tune my attention elsewhere to find my favorite-song-of-the-moment. And I can forget about hearing it without actually looking for it. Lately, this only seems to happen in Starbucks or at the mall, in stores that play a soundtrack.
To be honest, I think digitized music has made me even more excited about live music. Because live music is spontaneous, I never know what I’m going to get. I like to see bands that I know and bands that I’ve never even heard. If I like the band, and I don’t already own music, I buy the CD at the show.
BUY A CD?! Well, I think the live music experience mimics the experience I had as a girl, listening to the radio. I’m more fired up about the music, and I usually want to take the experience with me, away from the venue and my computer.
How has the digitization of music affected your listening experience? Though issues of legality dominate the discussion about digitized music, I think that we can all learn something from thinking about the experience of listening to the music itself.
(Photo by cassettes)