By Jason Didner, leader of the Jungle Gym Jam
It’s a fact of life that it’s no longer required to own an album in order to hear all or part of that album at will (provided that you’re connected to the Internet). As a music fan, I enjoy being able to hear any album in the vast Apple Music library for my $16/month family subscription. It’s a good value and it encourages me to try a lot of new music and to play long-forgotten songs for my daughter. This is what the progress of technology has enabled and there’s no turning back. I embrace the change and don’t harbor any anger about technology making music more widely accessible. If people can access all the music I’ve created without buying my albums, that’s just the state of the art.
While recorded music can now be accessed for minimal cost or even free if you’re willing to bear with ads, as with YouTube or Spotify, there still is an important reason to invest in the music you love the most or want to share. It’s that certain styles of music still costs good money to create. Music recorded with rich instrumentation, especially live drums and the skill of a trained, experienced producer, requires payment to the contributing musicians, producer, and engineer. Rental of a studio space is often necessary. Time is paid for to set up and break down the instruments and listen back to each recorded “take” to ensure the quality of the recording. True, there are also hours and hours of electronic dance music that can be recorded using nothing more than a laptop and possibly a keyboard plugged into it. Much of that is produced in basements all over the world – and it’s brilliant.
In 2015, the reason to purchase CD’s or downloads is not because that’s the only way to hear the songs you want. The reason to purchase music even in the age of streaming is to ensure that your favorite artists will be able to hit the studio again and record even more music. When you buy music, instead of paying to hear these tracks, you’re paying to hear future tracks. You’re voting for your favorite band’s future with your wallet.
If you’re into streaming, great. So am I. There’s still a place for CD purchases. For instance, CD’s still make wonderful holiday and birthday gifts, especially for kids who love to get their hands on the actual product. Giving a friend or family member a CD of music you love and perhaps they’re not familiar with yet helps create a new common bond between you and the recipient of the gift.
There are steps beyond buying an album that help multiply the effects of your love for your favorite band. Telling your friends in person and on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/YouTube about your purchase gets more people interested and makes you a trendsetter. Writing customer reviews about your favorite artist’s CD’s on sites like iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby helps you connect with new people over your shared passion and causes those music services to automatically recommend your favorite act to more potential new listeners.
It used to be that audiences could only hear recorded music on the radio or through mass-produced physical albums, both were heavily gated communities that only let a privileged few musicians chosen by major record companies into the restricted space of Top 40 radio and commercially available albums. The record companies essentially decided for you in advance which musicians you’d ever hear in the first place and have the chance to fall in love with.
Now, any artist with a modest budget can lay it out on the line and take a shot at creating an album for their fans. If their fans support their efforts and embrace the recorded materials and live shows, that band may well just earn a chance with their own fans to make more music and maybe even bring some new fans along for the ride.
In 2015, you the music listener have greater power than ever before to influence the musical tastes of people around you and ultimately affect the next wave of success for those artists who put a song in your heart.
I’m asking you to consider using your power to keep your favorite musicians creating the soundtrack to your life and the lives of those with similar tastes. Please comment in the space below about what it means to you to be a music fan in 2015 with all the new ways of listening to music.