Today will be brief since I’ve been battling migraines since last Thursday. However over the weekend I was redeeming a gift certificate from Amazon.com for digital books and mp3 files and the differences in media consumption from 10 years ago to today boggled my mind.

As I browsed on Amazon I could chose individual songs or entire albums. Books were much cheaper digitally and I could preview different portions. This technology has been available for some time, but it made me consider its effect on the actual music production business. 10 years ago most people would purchase music on CDs, a collection of 15-25 songs that usually included 1-5 singles that would be marketed to radio stations. So if you heard a song on the radio that you enjoyed you could either buy the single on a CD or spend a little more and get the entire album.

This method basically ensured that new music was getting out there, that more songs than just the uber-popular songs you heard on the radio were getting to people. This is so important for the future of popular music. Less popular songs can push a genre forward, creating new popular radio songs and newer “other” songs that ask more questions and propose different musical approaches.

Now many people receive their music via any number of music distribution websites: Napster, iTunes, Amazon; and can now choose to purchase only the songs they hear and enjoy on the radio or at the club and bypass the remainder of the album. If you have been in an FYE, Target, or Wal-Mart you know that CDs haven’t gone the way of the A-Trak just yet, but how much longer until musical artists are recording one song at a time instead of full albums? It already seems as if popular music is racing towards the lowest, basest, most common denominator. I can only imagine what it will become if  artists are no longer motivated to create songs off the beaten path.

This technology is amazing in that it helps me create my exercise track list without spending a fortune, which I would have had to do just 7-10 years ago to get the songs I wanted. Instead I spent what I would have spent on one CD to make a list of 15 songs from what was at least 10 other albums. As is the case with any technological advance, your life does become more convenient and efficient. Despite this we should always ask “At what cost?”

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