Conserving Musical Roots For a (Questionable) Cause

CD and record stores are not as crowded as they used to be…

Unless you’re hip enough to purchase vinyl discs for your record player from Urban Outfitters, then you most likely purchase your music online (assuming that you don’t illegally download). In the twenty-first century, we have gradually transformed the culture of how we listen to music. With the convenience of iTunes, people have found that it’s much easier to load a song onto your computer with the click of a button. CD sales have tanked over time, for many listeners simply don’t find any reason to drive down to the record store when they can purchase and listen to music from the comfort of their own home. We can even purchase single songs for a small fee, rather than buying an entire album. Technology has seemed to have improved the lives of music fans all over the world, but not everyone finds the change to be beneficial…

Led Zeppelin may seem stuck in the 70s, but they eventually bowed down to new technological inventions.

In the eyes of many bands and solo musicians themselves, iTunes is degrading the music industry. These older artists believe that digital music purchases are stripping music from its authenticity. They are resistant to allow their music to be bought online- they want to preserve the form in which people have listened to music in the past. We perceive these artists to be very traditional, like Edmund Burke. Artists such as Led Zeppelin’s frontman, Robert Plant, wish to conserve the sound quality of a classic vinyl, as Plant told New Musical Express that “it is slightly heartbreaking to think that anything can be dismissed sonically and put to the sword by the confines digitalized, computerized sound reproduction.” Others, such as Michael Poulsen of Volbeat reported to Ultimate-Guitar.com that he doesn’t “think downloading has any spirit or soul.” Indeed, he values being able “to hunt for the movie or music” that he wishes to have.

Many have abandoned the feeling of holding a brand new CD in their hands. Digital music adds more simplicity to our lives.

Although these musicians have spoken out against the popular transformation of music purchasing, it appears that some have come to accept the necessary changes of this technological era. Similar to Burke, some traditional music artists have understood that they must adapt to new conditions as “there are fewer record stores available, and there are fans who don’t necessarily want to get in the car and drive to the store”, as Kid Rock’s manager stated to Rolling Stone. Perhaps, artists are realizing that technology is a new way of life, and they must adjust their culture in order to keep their fans satisfied. Kid Rock may have surrendered to iTunes after much opposition, but he still preserves music sound quality by playing live shows. Many older musicians treasure the face-to-face delivery of music that luckily continues to take place around the world, despite the speedy source of iTunes downloading.

We may perceive these traditional traits to be similar to that of Burke, but there appears to be more depth to the situation. Surely, some artists have truly accepted change in the new era. However, some have succumbed to iTunes streaming more so for the financial benefit. In fact, Kid Rock admitted to BBC News that he was losing 10-20% of revenue by not allowing iTunes to sell his music. It may appear that these artists are caving-in to the next form of music for the benefit of the fans. After all, the fans are responsible for an artist’s rise to fame. In this case, we commend artists for their “Burkian” acceptance. On the other hand, money and greed has become a prevalent theme in the music industry, as well. We can always question the true motives behind the grand switch to online downloading. Musicians might not be so much like Burke after all…

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One comment

  1. kreismax · November 23, 2014

    Interesting read here,
    I believe musicians do need to be more like Burke. Burke thought that all knowledge should come from history. As history tell us before, technological advances that increases the convenience of our lives succeeded for the majority of cases. Thus, Burke would advise musicians heed this technological movement and accept it. He would think groups like Led Zeppelin would be looking at “pleasing illusions” that there is still a chance for the classic feel of music to coexist in today world. Lastly, Burke would accept this shift in how we listen to music as a movement of incremental change. Thus, I believe musicians who are trying to return to the classic way of listening to music should accept the change, the Burke way of looking at things.

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