I love record stores. Thereâ€™s always a dusty smell that permeates every corner, though I imagine half of the sensation brims from my imagination attempting to make the trip more fanciful. While the smell is something I love, for me, visiting the record store is a journey I partake so I can go back to a time when finding and buying music was a task that required more effort than the simple click of a button.
I couldnâ€™t tell you the first cd I bought with my own money; partly because I have a terrible memory, but the more likely culprit in the forgetfulness is the fact that my first significant purchase occurred through the interweb. While buying music online through sites such as iTunes or Amazon makes the transaction much easier, it also creates a complete disconnect in the entire music buying experience. When I was younger and wanted to buy music I could pester my dad to use his credit card online or wait until I saved up enough money to go to the store. Now as any good parent would do, I usually had to save up my own money, which was an ordeal for a ten year old with no job and no steady allowance. When I could finally scrap together enough money to garner a visit to Best Buy, I would make a mental list of artists that I wanted to find, even though I knew I never stuck to that list. The venture would start with me running through the automatic doors with that crisp ten dollar bill tucked safely in my pocket. I would station myself in the middle of the aisle, sit down, and start my slow search through the cds. When the decision was made and the crumpled ten dollar bill handed over, I could finally rip open the plastic, grapple with the security tape that never tore in a straight line, and put the cd in for the drive home.
Thatâ€™s what the music buying experience should be. It should be a journey where you just might stumble across an unexpected artist that will change your life. With the advent of purchasing music online, also came selectivity â€“ no longer does a whole album need to be purchased when you only want one song from the artist. And with the selectivity came a loss in the entire understanding that an artist has a deeper meaning behind their music. Another pitfall of digital music is the fact that it is usually listened to online. It becomes background noise to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. When was the last time you purchased music, sat down, and listened to it with absolutely no distractions? Lying on your back, staring at the ceiling, absorbing the true meaning of the sounds kind of listening. The entire online experience of music is putting a dimmer switch on our appreciation for music.
Unfortunately, most of my generation has forgotten the feeling of owning music in the flesh. Even more, theyâ€™ve forgotten the satisfaction of buying music with the rapid rise in filesharing. Talking to people my age, they commonly say that it doesnâ€™t matter, that in the grand scheme of things, it doesnâ€™t matter they download their music for free. It is the trademark complacency of the younger generation- the fact that we are entitled to everything we want exactly when we want it. To those who say Iâ€™m pretentious for caring about something as menial as the way music is received, I say that they will never know the joy of a true mix tape (sitting next to a radio for hours with fingers hovered over the record button in case the right song filters through the speakers); they will never know the joy of the scratch of a needle over an old LP; they will never know the joy of actually working for something they want.
People will dole out $25 to see a movie on the big screen with buttery popcorn and drink in hand; theyâ€™ll pay thousands of dollars to obtain original artwork. Why? Because things are better when you actually have time to appreciate them. In light of this, why is music drawing the short straw?