How many times have you heard, don't you miss that feeling music gave you back in the day? Music fans have been saying this for years. Exactly when did music lose its hold on music lovers? I’m not sure if anyone can give us a definitive response to that question and if I were to start coming up with all the possible answers, I may just have an article that would match the volume of War and Peace. So, let’s just get to the heart and soul of the matter and list some of the biggest attributes that has lead to the downfall of music.
With technology, music can be obtained on your laptop, tablet, or phone at any time, anywhere. A simple click and access is instant. It’s convenient but that instant access really takes away the fun of getting the music. Remember when you had to go to your local record store to get your music? Seeing songs as simply a file or another addition to your playlist has really hurts music’s mystique. Technology has de-humanized us and we’ve become a generation that shares files and not emotions.
Back in the day, music was an adventure. Half the fun was traveling with your friends to your local record store and discussing music with the sales staff before rushing home to play the record. Heck, some of the albums even came with a poster or a patch that you sewed on your back pack. The music made you feel like we were a part of something. I remember discussing and dissecting each track.
Album cover & sleeve
Some of the greatest albums of all time had amazing covers. Many of these covers added intrigue and insight into the creation of the recordings and some covers were literally works of art. Take a good look at Sgt. Pepper, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Iron Maiden’s Power Slave and list goes on. I remember my friends making up their own stories about the album cover. The cover art just added a whole other dimension and in a sense, a connection to the music. There seemed to be a story on that album cover, and it was up to us to figure out what it was.
As for the sleeve, I remember how much fun I had reading about who produced, played or guess-stared on some recordings. There was so much going on with the making of an album, and by reading about it, it felt like you were part of the creation process.
I’m just not sure you can capture that same feeling through your phone.
Radio was sooooo much fun in my youth. It was a melting pot, and for the most part it had no limits to the type of music that was being played. One could hear everything from Aerosmith to ZZ Top and everything in between.
Now-a-days, radio stations are playing fewer songs than ever, and the one’s you are allowed to hear are backed up an enormous amount of money. It doesn’t matter if the song is any good, it only matters if the song makes a profit.
The same songs are played repeatedly over the course of the day, heck weeks, until the listener believes that it is a good song. There's real neuroscience behind the strategy: If you hear something enough, you'll start to like it. The scientific term for this phenomenon is the "mere exposure effect" and it was discovered in the '60s by Robert Zajonc. This holds true for anything, really. Like images, shapes, songs or people. In his study, participants reported liking songs more the second and third times they were exposed to them. If you don’t believe me, one of the biggest songs of all time is “Gangnam Style” with 2.4 billion views on YouTube. I don’t think anyone thinks “Gangnam Style” is a good song, but it’s one of the biggest hit songs of all time.
From the 60’s onward, artists had some artistic freedom and could experiment and grow. In the 70’s and even the 80’s & 90’s those artistic freedoms were pushed into new and exciting directions from disco, folk, grunge, punk and beyond. Now, most artists are interchangeable. They all use the same producers and co-writers until the hits dry up and then these same producers and co-writers move on to the next flavour of the month. Artists/ bands aren’t given a chance to grow or discover their sound over a course of 5 or 6 albums. They are given one chance and that’s it.
Part of the power of that artistic freedom allowed the listener to make that musical journey with their favourite artist or group.
The few big bands that are still around and once raged “against the machine”, have become ‘the machine’. These bands no longer take chances or express what’s in their hearts anymore. Now, they just need the tours to keep rolling or have a couple of chart topping hits that could add to the set list. It leads to stale, superficial tracks that are gone after a few weeks or when the tour ends.
The answer lies within the public and the music business’ need to make a radical change. I am talking DJ’s , photographers, marketing teams, anyone who helped getting the music to you. Music is not a file, it is a person’s heart felt expression and needs to be treated with love and respect. If we want music to mean something again, then we must start with ourselves.