Sunday, May 27, 2012

Format shifting

I have spent the past few days immersed in music - Spotify is something I have wished for for a long time and I am busy reclaiming my music.

Yes - reclaiming. While others online have been angry that Spotify was released in Australia this week, claiming artists will lose out on sales because people won't buy music on iTunes or elsewhere if they can listen to it for "free', I am celebrating getting back a collection of music I haven't been able to listen to for a long time.

I got my very first record at my 13th birthday party. It was a Skyhooks single, Party to End All Parties. and I still have it! That was 1976 and music was beginning to really make an impact on my life. In the final two or three years of primary school, I had begun to listen to the radio and had lots of favourite (mainly British) bands that I would read about in the magazines I got each month. Countdown began at the same time I began listening to pop music and brought my soundtrack to me every week. School was were we talked about who had been on the show and the songs we liked.

As soon as I was 13, I was able to go to the local shopping centre with friends on Friday nights, with my $5 pocket money in hand - with which I could buy a pie, a Coke and a single. We would pick up the 3XY Top $0 chart and hang around in Brash's or Myer listening to records played on headets for customers to hear before deciding to buy.

When I had extra money or a birthday or Christmas gift, I would get compilation albums, which were filled with singles! It was years before I bought my first real album - in my teens it was all about the singles: that is what we saw and heard on Countdown or the radio and that was what we wanted to own. These were the wonder years - disco, punk, pop and more competed for our love. You either liked Skyhooks or Sherbet (the two local Aussie groups) and you hated the other. You roller-skated to one set of music and discoed to another. You knew the words to ABBA and the Sex Pistols hits.

As the world clocked over into the 1980s, my life changed a lot - I left school and only a couple of years later, home. In the early eighties, we were in the "recession we had to have" and I had short term jobs and long term unemployment. When I had money, I went to the disco with my friends and we danced to a whole new generation of music. But I wasn't buying music. Vinyl was giving way to cassettes and both were outside my budget. My boyfriend bought the occasional tape, including one compilation that was our sole music source on a drive to the NSW south coast and while we holidayed: those songs still all go together in my brain and when I hear one, I am back on that trip!

In 1983, we married and our first child was born in 1984. Now we really had no money for music! But the radio filled the gap - FM had transformed our listening choices and we had farewelled 3XY and replaced it with Triple M happily. In 1985, we clustered around our TV to watch Live Aid, which we taped on the radio - we stayed up the whole night, despite having a one year old! Nowadays I can watch the whole concert at leisure - I have it on DVD! if only we had known ;)

Over the next few years, the new technology of cassettes were nudged aside by CDs. The first we ever bought was Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell, replacing the taped copy of my brother in law's vinyl edition. But it was to be years until we could really afford to buy CDs and for a long time, the kids had a bigger collection than I did!

But eventually I was able to start building a CD collection, gathering all the music I had missed out on in the lean years and replacing - where possible - my vinyl collection, which I could only play if we dragged out an old turntable. And then .... iTunes! Suddenly I could buy music, song by song or a whole album at at time, sitting at my computer. Combined with my CDs, my history was starting to come into one place!

And now Spotify! Well, hands-down winner! Unlike the piracy of programs like Limewire, this is legit, more reliable and has such a wide collection, it is only the rarest songs I can't listen to. And the artists do get a very small royalty when they are played.

Given the money I have spent (some songs I have in four formats - single, album, CD and digital - and I have all the Countdown CDs and DVDs!), the advertising I have listened to on the radio and the fact that I know the lyrics as well (if not better) than the artists, I have no qualms about not buying the music. I will pay the premium that allows me to hear the music on my laptop, phone or tablet - and stream in my car via bluetooth, because that pays for a service I am using. I just hope this format stays for a while, because I really like having all my favourites in one place!

1 comment:

Kebeni said...

yes, yes and YES