It started with iTunes not too long ago. Legal, digital music. Already back then there was opposition on all sides. Musicians not getting paid enough, scared of illegal sharing. Labels seeing their business model change and consumers having to put up with useless copy protection and lower quality than before, on something they paid for. Yet it was truly a revolution caused by illegal downloading such as Napster. When Spotify showed up about three years ago, we could see the next step in this revolution. Suddenly you could create online playlists and share them online. You could search and listen to music on the go on your cellphone without first storing it on your computer. The same debates about pros and cons are still there. Just slightly different.
But there is something in this that you seldom hear about and that is what happens when something becomes next to infinite. Even though there are limitations, they are next to nothing. Spotify market themselves as having more than fifteen million songs that you can freely listen to for about $5.
While the issue is considered to be money, about how much and when, I find myself observing a change in my behaviour. I find myself listening less and less to music on Spotify or in iTunes. To have everything at your fingertips is no longer a sense of freedom but a sense of indifference.
What I have noticed is that when something becomes free and unlimited, the same thing happens to music as with money in a state of hyperinflation. When you have it all, it’s value is depreciated.
Six months ago, I got myself a record player, bought my first vinyl record since 1993. Suddenly, music was fun again. You know that feeling you have when you’re a kid and can only afford one record and even have to save up for it. Now I find myself thinking every now and then that I should cancel my Spotify account and erase all mp3s on my computer. I probably won’t do that, it is still very convenient when you are on the move and great for finding new music. But the thought is there.
I allow myself one album per month at the most. I could get more of course, but I don’t want to. Instead I want to go down, buy a record I have been thinking about for a long time, buy it, come home and slowly open the wrapper and put it on. Hold it while the music starts. Ane Brun’s latest album, my favourite at the moment, “It All Starts With One”, is already scratched. It has a weird sound for about 30 seconds. I found it annoying and thought about getting it replaced, but now it’s part of it’s personality.
Music is no longer a throw-away thing, but something I care for. I am building a relationship with the album and its creator. I show respect to the artist and the hard work he or she has put into making it the way it is, to share a vision and a part of themselves.
In our society, limitation has become a curse word, but I look upon it as a calling to go deeper. It has turned into a kind of enjoyment and pleasure that I had forgotten in all this extravaganza.