The Hidden Cost of MP3s. It’s Worse Than You Might Think.

There’s no doubt that MP3s are super-convenient and allow us to hoard more music than anyone ever thought possible.  But there’s a downside to this technology.  NotYourJukebox articulates it well.

Music has been a consumable product ever since the very first mogul realized that he could record some music and sell it for a profit. MP3s have now taken things a step further and turned music into a disposable product. You can download a song you like (foregoing the entire album if you so desire), listen to it a few times and delete or forget about it as soon as the next hit song comes around.

This mentality has caused much of the industry to become even more formulaic than ever in order to turn a profit. There is also less of a risk for labels now as productions costs allow them to throw whatever they can to see what sticks, effectively removing any filters of quality. No longer exists the mentality that you buy an album and treat it with more permanence.

Picking out music carefully, intentionally, and spending money only on that which connects most to you. Most of the filtering on the consumer end is gone as well, now it is more a matter of ‘this sounds good right this second, buy it, bored with it, next’.

This leads to people being less likely to become genuine fans of artists as they are building a short-term relationship with a song instead of a long-term relationship with an artist’s body of work.

Yep.  Like I’ve been saying in my presentations about the modern music industry, we spend all kinds of time searching for music and no time savouring it.  And there are more downsides, too.  Read on.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “The Hidden Cost of MP3s. It’s Worse Than You Might Think.

  • December 18, 2013 at 4:46 am
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    Oh gosh, yet more moaning about how digital products are killing creativity, attention spans, engagement, (insert negative attribute here). Mp3’s are convenient true, but to say they are the reason people don’t attach themselves to artists is just stupid. I produce music (dance music, which undoubtedly moves faster than any other forms of music) Literally in dance music a track is exclusive for a few months (at most) before it’s old hat, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get a solid and lasting relationship with my fans.

    With my tracks it’s about being organised, having things spread out and most of all being consistent. Regularly outputting music, whether it’s free, release with a label, one of our own releases, a feature with a website, a mix, a remix competition or other creative projects. It’s about being ‘there’ I mean how do you think most people found us in the first place? With dance music a good DJ is expected to play the latest and freshest exclusives, dubs or pre-releases (this exclusive window has shrunk from sometimes up to 2 years pre-release to now literally being a few months for a massive track) – Because we are consistent though, we stay on peoples radars, even when we haven’t got anything to promote, we promote the ethos, the culture, the thought process, the laughs and regularly promote other peoples music that has nothing to do with us directly which really helps with karma points.

    I personally find Spotify amazing for my other choices in music outside of dance (although I listen to a lot of dance on there too) – I can now buy tickets to an artist’s show, I can stream any of their music, I can share music legally and freely to which the artists gets a credit for each spin. I haven’t bought any actual physical music in years, because most of my dance music is sent to me as a trade with other producers. Spotify is with me everywhere, I am a heavy user. I have found hundreds of amazing artists I would have never even known about if it wasn’t for Spotify. Spotify comes with great suggestions and also reminds me of those tracks I haven’t listened to in a while. I have gone on to follow many of these artists on social media, gone to their concerts or bought merch as well as pay a subscription for Spotify too. The number one reason why those artists get my attention……consistency. It’s an entirely different playing field nowadays where fans don’t just attach themselves to the music, they attach themselves to you, your lifestyle, your ethos, your attitude, your integrity and your genuine passion for art and music as well as your music (which really has to be great in the first instance)

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