IS THE MUSIC BEGINNING TO FADE?
With HMV set to close 60 of its store over the course of this year, the British high streets are on their way to becoming void of music and entertainment out lets altogether.
Obviously, we cannot blame the disappearance of physical music solely on the state of the economy. For example: everyone’s had that experience where a new kid arrives in your class, and this kid is coolness personified, I mean totally cool, like a brilliant footballer, or has the latest designs in fashions; and suddenly, that friend of yours, who changes her Best Friend Forever more times than her socks, doesn’t want to know you anymore. And that cool kid is called DOWNLOAD, iTunes Download. With the extensive downloading of music that has appeared, there is little need to visit your nearest record store. Fair enough, an exchange of moneys till takes place, with artists and record companies benefiting from a profit of some kind, but there is also the factor of illegal downloading, and free downloading (although often the case is these tracks are unavailable anywhere else, demos or remixes).
Ok, even I will admit I have made friends with download, occasionally purchasing the odd exclusively available track, or something for Music Tech. coursework via iTunes, but a whole album? Not when you could easily buy a cased copy of the track, with artwork, lyrics and the personal thank yous of the artist for almost the same price. The purchasing of music should be a pleasure for all senses. The artwork is there to represent the music inside, to enhance the emotions presented to us by the musician, and vice a versa. I find nothing more relaxing than lying in the garden, with the good old personal CD player, headphones on, examining and appreciating both the music and artwork. Or similarly full volume on the stereo. It’s the same with vinyl and tape. It’s touchable, lick it if you wish, smell it (one of Katy Perry’s albums apparently smells of candyfloss, now download that!); and you’re safe in the knowledge that a computer virus cannot wipe its existence from your possession. I guess it is a similar experience for book lovers. The physical album, extended play and single, to me, is such a precious object. To replace it simply with invisible digital technology is to simply just say music is only a sound bite in the air. I believe taking away its physicality is to take away the physical quality of it as a possession.
It worries me to see such a decline in the physical entertainment industry. Small, independent labels rely on the retail of HMV and the like for bulk purchase of their releases. Unlike an independent store, high street chains do not send back unsold copies. Without such stores, the independent labels would pretty much financially collapse and cease to exist in the big label, Simon Cowell drivel driven popular music industry of today. Let’s not also forget the album artists, designers, manufacturers, distributers... so much lies on the record industry, and has done since the mass marketing of the wax cylinder back in the late 1800s.
Occasionally I will purchase an album through an internet store such as Play.com and Amazon and eagerly await its arrival through my letter box. Nevertheless, a regular visit, browse and purchase in HMV is nothing less than enjoyable and a chance to discover new or old albums you have yet to add to your collection. To let that die would be a loss to music lovers, industry and artists themselves. And why? Because the physical possession of music is no longer appreciated as it once was. I do not look forward to the day when I am no longer able to wonder into the nearest music outlet, and browse through extensive collections of music, independent or mainstream, until I am content in a world where I can truly feel the music which surrounds me.