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There simply is no space

I find it odd that people today will log into various platforms of social networking to ”consume” new music yet you ask them what their favourite band is and they draw a blank.

Look at your twitter timeline or go onto Facebook and just study for a day or so the amount of new music that gets sent around from person to person in search of that elusive ”like”. It’s hard to know how many people actually listen to a song before clicking ”like” or even if they listen at all. In today’s world we pay for music with ”likes” and very rarely do we feel the need to purchase music in a physical format because free music is easily accessible.

The debate around downloading an mp3 versus owning an audio file together with an artwork is an old one and not the point of this blog. Instead I want to challenge the notion that people’s appetite for new music is limitless. Instead I will argue that music simply no longer fulfils the same function it did before social networking came about.

In the old days you could walk on the school terrain and ask any boy or girl what they favourite band was and they would tell you straight out — usually willing to educate you about their band in the event that your facial expression did not show enough interest. Do the same exercise today and you will find many a teenager willing to share song after song from their seemingly endless collection of pirated downloads. The trick you see is not to be a ”fan” of any particular band any longer. You can merely ”like” a song without having to know who performs it and the next day you move on to the next download. Currency is no longer awarded to he who knows his music well. Instead today the kid with the most songs on his cell phone is the cool kid.

Now I don’t want to come across as old school or bitter about this changing nature of how people consume music. It’s important for the human species to evolve and our relationship with sound and silence will inevitably change also. I merely want to explain why this kind of consumption is not for me!

The truth is I only know two bands really well and I have been a fan of a further four bands. That’s six bands over a lifetime — roughly the same amount of times I fell in love. I have an intimate knowledge of The Beatles and U2 while I am an avid supporter of Radiohead, Queen, Travis and Keane. There are some splatterings of bands that I really like but don’t know enough of to truly rate — most notably The Stereophonics and The Thrills. That’s it.

The reason I have only been ”into” this few bands is because the music they make is bloody great. The song writing of McCartney and Lennon and Harrison, along with the ambient genius of The Egde — in itself create lasting works of art that must be listened to over and over again to understand and truly appreciate. And by the time I fully grasp The Unforgettable Fire the band will release Achtung Baby, which I get to listen to four years later!

In between these works of genius I simply do not have time or space for anything else. I cannot allow any other music in while my mind tries to make sense of this beauty. Every now and again a record like The Wall by Pink Floyd will violently force itself into my mind-scape and literally wrestle my current musical obsessions for head-space. There simply is no space for new music while my head is busy processing these fantastic pieces of music.

The main reason why I am programmed to consume music in this way is because I grew up in an era when music was for the most part a private thing you did in your own bedroom and in your own time, while today’s kids have a far more social approach to music sharing which in a sense is a good thing. The fuckers get the music for free so least they can do is then share it!

How do you feel? Which bands have been occupying your head-space or are you from the ”song-a-day” generation?

This article first appeared on Brendon’s private blog “A Spade is a Shit-Scoop”. Follow him on twitter @brendonshields to continue the debate.