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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Friday, October 08, 2004

Convenience and the Cost of Free Music

Rob Horning has a great Marginal Utility column in PopMatters today. He makes some insightful points about the results of increasing convenience, the complicity of both the consumer and the industry in the music business (no individual v. corporation paradigms here), and music as artifact. It's a reflection on Benjamin and piracy, and, since at least one of those concerns many of you, Rob's article is well worth reading.

I think his reduction of music to convenience or collectible is a bit extreme, but basically he's right on. With so much music up for grabs, it can be hard to lock into an album and listen to it until its yours. I think the music world's shifting through this idea a bit now (ILM had some discussion the other day that I'm not going to track down). Just what does it mean when anyone can have access to the super-rare record? Part of me really supports the democratization of musical distribution, but the elitist side of me (larger than I'd like to admit) wants to have those artifacts, to make those surprising discoveries in used music stores. I still enjoy tracking down difficult-to-find music, but often it's more about tracking down the bargain than the music itself. Anything you want, you can hear with relative ease these days. Even a Mud Hutters' EP and Ten Wheel Drive material didn't give me too much trouble. But how much more would I appreciate them had I spent a year digging through bins? How much better off am I with an extra year to enjoy them?

By the way, after today I won't be posting for a while, so I'll get next week's pick up today. Don't go away (the three of you) during my vacation.