So I've never really been big on illegally downloading music. Sure I've done it, but it never really sat right with me. Especially having known struggling musicians who were just trying to get by, I know how important it is towards the livelihood of a band to gain some traction with sales. So, most of the time, if I like a band I buy their stuff. But there's something interesting that's been happening over the last year or so that is really changing the landscape of how this all works. People really aren't charging for music quite as much as they used to.
Radiohead shook the party up in 2007 when they released In Rainbows to the public with the simple request to pay what you thought it was worth. I chose not to pay anything. Yes I realize it was a Radiohead album. Of course I think it's worth more than that. Technically I paid like 60 bucks because I bought the limited edition vinyl. Stop judging me. Seriously this is a blog why would you come here to judge?! DUDE GO AWAY! ahem... sorry. Anyway my point being this was kind of the leading edge of a wave in music that sought to make music more accesible digitally. This was increasingly more feasible considering that music is becoming easier and easier to make without label support. You can make some pretty great music in your living room or bedroom or storage space or whatever.... especially know that recording software is so affordable and accesible. And so, since a lot of bands own their own music and can do whatever they want with it, a lot of bands are just giving it away for free.
There are a lot of places that you can access said music. Band websites, blogs (stereogum.com , hypetrak.com, and prettymuchamazing.com are all particularly awesome), and friends who do all the legwork for you. What ends up happening is you get a lot of music kind of thrown at you at once. This is creating an interesting dilemma. Back when music was hard to come by and expensive, you'd buy an album, obsess over it for weeks, internalize it, and share it all before you'd ever think of moving on to the next album. This is not the case anymore. In the last week alone I've downloaded (I'm not trying to boast or anything here just making a point): the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah track, a Washed Out Cover, the new Horrors single, three Ryan Adams covers, Bon Iver's Peter Gabriel cover, St. Vincent's new single, Lightouts new single, Best Coast's track for the Adult Swim sessions, new Frank Ocean and Cool Kids, some Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the new Blink track, and the new M83 track. All of said music was downloaded legally and the total cost... $5. So you end up in the midst of this deluge that's not that hard to manage. Add to this the fact that Amazon only charges $5 for a lot of digital albums and you're gonna be swimming in music.
Now on one hand this is an exciting thing. My taste's/influences/interests have really expanded as I've been able to explore a lot of new music that I wouldn't necessarily have explored before. I've had my eyes opened to music that I wouldn't have even been aware of before. On the other hand it's created an addictive taste for music that's hard to sate. I always want new, different, challenging and I have a tendency to zip through music without ever actually letting it settle and without ever actually processing it. That's not how I want to enjoy music and that's not how I want to live my life. I'm not sure what the happy balance is, but I feel like there has to be one.