I remember a year or two ago hearing a Sony exec announce that the mp3 format was dead. “Music will all be in the cloud,” he said. At the time I thought he was overstating but he was right and quickly too. Today, most artists are releasing their stuff via Sound Cloud or other service, eliminating the downloadable file and with it the convenience of being able to play it at will whenever one wants or worse (from the standpoint of music creators and publishers), burn it to disc.
Trouble is, aside from the annoyance of having to go to some web site, search for a song, and then sit and listen to it there, once, I am no longer able create year end best of CDs (yes, old-fashioned CDs) of singles. I’m no longer able to store and categorize and rate singles in iTunes or Banshee. And they no longer roll by on my pc when I’m listening to my library on random play.
I’m getting old. Songs barely register until I’ve heard them a few times, unless they’re exceptional songs. It takes me all year to remember the names of artists and which ones I like. And it takes having a library of assembled tunage to come up with a year-end best of CD for my family and friends, who presumably go on to buy or at least know about more recent music than they would otherwise.
Back when radio was recently dead and mp3s were new, I lectured record companies at every turn to at least release a single. They complied and the single mp3, download ’em, listen to ’em, trade ’em with your friends, was born. But now it’s dead because record companies and musicians alike hated giving away even a shred of content, even if by doing so they might actually sell more content.
Consequently I’m feeling dead in the water, even though the mp3 isn’t fully dead yet and I could still look for songs. But I don’t bother because I feel like they don’t want me to. So after 40 years of major new music consumption, I’m finally reduced, in this town of one used record store, to buying random chestnuts like the Blood Oranges “Crying Tree,” Sarah Vaughan’s Golden Hits, and Lili Boulanger’s Psalms (backed with Stravinsky’s Symphony of for good measure). In short, new music is starting to be something I hear on late night tv and car commercials, meaning I’ve lost my edge.
But I blame the cloud which has become for me symbolic of everything I hate about the music industry, which is to say, it’s yet another way to make music hard to get. I was ready for online music distribution but DRM killed my enthusiasm (I couldn’t even copy a bought and paid for iTunes file from my laptop to my desktop under the copy protection used then) and now cloud music is coming close to finishing it.
First the album died, now the single. What’s next, the song? The artists themselves? How much can industry legal departments kill? But don’t listen to me. Rent your music from the cloud. See if I care, I got Lili Boulanger…