By: Nick Southall

Posted 09/19/2005 - 07:21:20 AM by PeteGuy:
 Oooooooooooo Nick, have you been reading our music collective website? ( - if you haven't) because I posted something nigh on word for word back in early September on the filthy business of downloading and how it was diluting my love and appreciation of music... Anyway, here's what I wrote so I don't have to again... ---------------------------------------- I've been meaning to post something on here for ages on this subject as I am intrigued to know people's thoughts/opinions/attitude/useage of downloading is, and a recent piece of editorial in The Times has sparked this thought again. Michael Crowley (senior editor at the New Republic see attached URL below for full comment) argued that rock 'snobs' days are numbered when their collections can be downloaded in minutes... Over the last year or so we've had Broadband at home and the initial novelty led to downloading LPs on a ridiculous basis. But now, I am not too sure. To be honest I now find myself almost in complete opposition of file sharing and downloading music. For these reasons. 1) Downloading music = Crap listening. I found that downloading music is not only a crap alternative in sound quality (on average) to the original but it also detracts from actual QUALITY listening time. I found that I played the new downloaded music maybe half a dozen times (at best) before moving on to a new MP3 file. Therefore not really 'getting to know an album'. And most big music fans know that the best records take time and effort to get into. In contrast buying a record from the shop I'd pour over every LP and listen time and again. So have I maybe got a few gems on my computer waiting to be unearthed? Who knows? 2) Primarily I sincerely think it does not help new bands. I am, what I would call, a music 'snob' or an avid fan of record buying - and since downloading music I've probably bought three in every 10 records I have downloaded. I know there's no scientific evidence to support that I am the norm in this downloading era - however, I know that without BroadBand I probably would have bought many more of these records. Many of which are new bands. 3) The whole process genuinely feels SHIT. No cover artwork. No lyrics/linear notes to look at. No actual record to hold. No record to file in the collection - and further - no actual record in the collection. And that's where I strongly disagree with Michael Crowley's piece - as all these people with extensive computer files and iPod databases are surely kidding themselves - its almost like a race to clock up the most files... [url],,1-355-1755835,00.html[/url] Michael Crowley's piece is above. ------------------------------------- Anyway, Nick - I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts. Oh and Lo-Fi Allstars is still on rotation!
Posted 09/19/2005 - 07:24:07 AM by MoldyMan:
 i've been exactly the same. Although not to such an extent. I might by about an album a week. Trying to own every good record ever. I make lists of all the bands i want to own records by and there's always more and more being added to the list. Its never ending. And most of the time you listen to it and understand it but it dosnt really blow u away and leave you speechless. U know why its good but your not experiensing it in a pure way where u dont even think or nothing, u just sit there and listen. Its like u just wanna check it of on a list or something. But still there is always one album that will blow u away. Maybe once a year or something. This year i bought Simon and Garfunkels Bookends album and thats the only thing i've heard that really got to me out of everything i've bought.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 08:26:26 AM by whiteboysushi:
 I bought the _Velvet Underground and Nico_ a couple years back, without having heard a single track before, out of a similar sense of obligation. It seemed all right to me, but if I hadn't known it was by a big-deal-Important-with-a-capital-I-Band-with-a-capital-B, I don't know that I would've gone out of my way to listen to it. But then, earlier this year, while driving to the airport, I had a sudden desire to hear it... and everything just fell into place. Suddenly, I wasn't hearing Lou Reed as a decrepit junkie zombie whose every word was indie rock gospel, but an insecure twenty-something kid with a shaky voice. My point? If I had just downloaded the album, I would've deleted it from my hard drive within a month or two. The process of purchasing an album is, if nothing else, a financial investment, and even when I buy a dozen at once, I still feel like I've wasted my money if I don't give each one the attention it deserves. Sure, it's simplistic, but whatever, it's also true. I download songs, but I've never downloaded an entire album (when I used to use indietorrents I would generally delete all but three or four songs) (exception: Tournament of Hearts, because *damn*, that is one good album), so maybe my perspective is kinda skewed.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 09:34:07 AM by henryk:
 dyou think the embrace project was a way out of the present into the familiar past? i've been obsessively listening to stuff from 96-7, stuff i don't even like, because for some reason that part of my life seems much longer ago than it did even a year ago. it's not all that healthy.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 09:44:00 AM by yerfatma:
 It's nice to know I'm not the only one who burned out their music tastebuds trying to consume it all. Now I just need to know the fix.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 10:15:43 AM by wmdavidson:
 Great, great article. I too have often felt like I was consuming too fast, and listening too little, and deliberately slowed myself down. It never lasts long though-- there's always another great band/record I just *need* to hear. For me though, iPod has been helpful-- the fact that my 20 gig iPod can already only hold half my collection, to say nothing of new purchases, has forced me to put some real thought into which albums I really enjoy and which are superfluous, and hopefully get back to the core of what I like about music. I'm looking forward to more of this series. Thanks.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 10:35:46 AM by quizzical:
 Well, I see your point, but, I download tons and tons and it continues to be completely amazing. I still love music. I've discovered music I NEVER would have known existed. This is one of few things that makes living in 2005 so great.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 10:42:38 AM by Hubajube:
 This pattern doesn't hold for me. At least half of the things I've gone crazy for over the past few years (Tha Blue Herb, Birchville Cat Motel, Cristian Varela, Pachora, Excepter) are things that likely would have slipped underneath my radar without obsessive downloading.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 11:08:32 AM by pabanks46:
 I agree that I have rarely come across an album I missed prior to my d'ling spree that I have loved pre-SLSK. MBV-Loveless, Joy Division-Closer and maybe 30-60 others. Yeah, it took about 125 gigs and 1600 albums to find that, but the question at the heart of this article is: what are you willing to wade through to get that feeling again? I do feel burned out in a way, but every so often, rarely, something kicks me in the balls and demands my attention, and until the ratio is 10,000 bad albums for every 1 personal classic, I'm gonna be sorting and organizing (while applying artwork to the folders for good measure).
Posted 09/19/2005 - 12:41:15 PM by PatrickMcNally:
 "He who has seen one cathedral ten times has seen something; he who has seen ten cathedrals once has seen but little; and he who has spent half an hour in each of a hundred cathedrals has seen nothing at all." Sinclair Lewis (sometime before he died in 1951)
Posted 09/19/2005 - 01:46:08 PM by unblinking:
 some cathedrals are half-finished (or half-wrecked) chapel houses on the verge of collapse. maybe, to some folks, they're still (or all the more) worth viewing. Irregardless, is it worth milling around obssessively in just one of the things till the structure falls on you? What about that one over there? Anyway, to hell with the metaphor anyhow, i think Mr. Lewis was just cathedral-biased.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 01:48:03 PM by mellowfellow:
 I remember when I was about 14 years old when music was the most exciting thing for me. All of my allowance went to buying cds. Bjork's post, Smashing pumpkins, oasis, aphex twin, ect. It was a thrill of going to a record store and hearing the music for the very first time was like falling in love. Not only I was enjoying the music but also had fun looking at the album art work, or just read the liner notes. I don't listen to music like i used to. The thrill is not there anymore. Part of the reason is downloading, it sort of take away the excitment of waiting for 3 years for an album to come out. I try not to download albums by artists that I love, I'm afraid of spoiling the suprises and I'd rather wait for the official releases.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 02:24:48 PM by KingVitamin:
 My personal solution to this problem: I download like crazy for three months a year, and then spend the rest of the year listening to what I've got and letting it soak in.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 02:30:51 PM by ghillz:
 I don't feel that there's much excitement in downloading. I know it's the way to go for music lovers who are hard of cash but want to hear more music than what they can get for £4.99 in the HMV sale, but for me there will always be more magic in visiting a record shop, buying a shiny new CD that's only one item on the massive list of albums you'd love to buy, taking it home in a cute little plastic bag, reading the cover booklet on the route home, listening to it on rotation for days and days. Downloading is going to snatch this joy from people when CDs become out of date and rare, and this negative aspect completely outweighs the advantages of downloading.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 02:33:55 PM by wmurch3:
 KingVitamin I'm the same way. How much I download is directly related to how little a life I have. When I was unemployed a few months ago, I downloaded everything I could find that even remotely piqued my interests. Now that I have a full-time job and a girlfriend, I just don't have time to sit at the computer for hours on end. Not only that, I don't download things on a whim. The albums I do download now, are ones that come highly recommended. So I guess the moral here is...get a life? Oversaturation of anything, even music, can be bad for you.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 04:20:45 PM by jt60312:
 Yeah, KingVitamin, I was going to write the same thing. I go on downloading binges once or twice a year that help me curb my appetite for consumption. I still buy CDs, especially of bands that I am a big fan of. For instance, when X, the new My Morning Jacket album, comes out I'll probably be at the record store when it opens. What binge downloading does for me is help me balance my urge to HAVE everything with my need to actually experience all the music that I have (through multiple listens).
Posted 09/19/2005 - 05:33:53 PM by theglow:
 As I was reading I could definitely relate with what you had to say. The past few months I have slowed down quite a bit on downloading, it's probably been a month since I used soulseek. Then I come across Hubajube's post, see the name Birchville Cat Motel and quickly grab a piece of paper and scribble down the rest of the names they mentioned. So much for slowing down I guess.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 06:11:22 PM by ddrake:
 I think it should be retitled "existential crisis of the music geek."
Posted 09/19/2005 - 08:26:57 PM by RavingLunatic:
 Best article on music I've read all year.
Posted 09/19/2005 - 08:54:14 PM by pagan_poet:
 That was brilliant. I know I no longer put the time and effort in to music I once did - besides feeling faintly ridiculous now, it does seem like it all became a little too easy doesn't it?
Posted 09/20/2005 - 12:12:22 AM by Liarbythefire:
 The thing about downloading is this: the record companies aren't making it easier to actually get physical copies of recordings anymore. They get mad at the consumers for wanting their music faster. So you go online and download a copy because you don't want to pay a lot of $$$ for the import copy, or the local shop doesn't have it in stock, or no one that you talk to in the local shops actually have a clue what you're talking about. And top it all off, you have heard rumors that the recording in particular isn't that good, so you don't feel it's worth the hassle to purchase. Downloading has freed that for everyone, but at the same time, made enjoying music that much harder. And you end up never having time to actually enjoy the music because you're spending all your time 'looking for cathedrals.' I imagine for those who spend all their money on purchasing music on vinyl/CDs/tapes/etc. feel the same way and wonder why the hell they have this hobby anyway.
Posted 09/20/2005 - 02:11:53 AM by joeyjeremiah:
 I deleted all of my MP3s about two years ago. I had about three gig. Now all I have are the records and CDs I've bought. The benifits of physical music are endless. MP3s are the cheapest and dirtiest way to listen to music. There's absolutely no romance to the situation at all. Honestly, for me it was absolutely worth the sacrifice to get a love of music back again. It might be the case for many of you. Don't just back them up to a CD or an unused hard drive, but shift-delete them. When you hear a song on the radio that's brilliant (although radio is mostly shit), then go to a record store, find it, buy the CD single! An incredibly important topic, this is.
Posted 09/20/2005 - 04:53:27 AM by freakytrigger:
 When I hear people complain that d/ling is "too easy" or that there's "no romance" it makes me wonder if they were ever into music at all, or just got hooked on certain rituals and objects. (Not that there's anything WRONG with that exactly, we all like a bit of ritual).
Posted 09/20/2005 - 05:07:54 AM by marwood:
 Familiar feeligs here. I find with some artists that I am very passionate about (such as James Brown, P-Funk), no matter how tempting to download the track or rare album, I feel I must own the physical object, almost as a thank you to the creator of the music. They also serve the role as trophies (and as I haven't a girlfriend they may yet serve their purpose!). Errm, anyhow, the temptation to download that rare James Brown album is worth resisting and I feel less compromised and dirty for not downloading it. Only the other day I found the vinyl for James Brown's 'Live At The Garden' (1967), an album I don't believe even exists on CD but no doubt does on Soulseek. The joy of putting it on theturntable was infinitely greater than if I had downloaded it.
Posted 09/20/2005 - 12:00:52 PM by nempsey:
 i wonder if this change in attitude to music is simply a function of growing up, that you are attributing wrongly to downloading? i guess you'd have to ask 15 year olds
Posted 09/20/2005 - 06:03:44 PM by LardESmith:
 For what it's worth (i.e. not much) I agree with the folks who say it's a lifestage thing. I know exactly the feeling described, but in my case it happened before downloading was a glimmer in someone's mad staring eye. Anyway - I got bored, and stopped listening to new stuff, and retreated into my old stuff (worst of all, IN THE CAR - the beggining of the end). And then one day I heard something that made me feel just like I did when I was a teenager, and I was hooked all over again. The difference this time is that there are only a few albums in a year that really get under my skin, but I love them as much as my favourites from my youth. And I can now look back without rose tinted contacts and ackowledge that 90% of my old albums are rubbish, but it was worth going through them for the 10% that are genius. So thanks recently to Elbow (title track of new albu favourite of the year so far) and to Arcade Fire, the latter for making my two small children as excited as i was. And that simultaneous connection with both the music and my kids (listening to "Rebellion (Lies)" while they both mimed the drums and piano) was more exciting than seeing Public Enemy live the first time. Relax - it get's better.
Posted 09/20/2005 - 06:22:13 PM by lypstyck:
 This really struck a chord with me. Lately I have been in a frenzy paying attention to all recommendations and downloading one or two songs of an artist to see if I like them. I don't download complete albums. What I do is download a couple songs of several artists and burn them onto a CD to listen to. The artists that are promising, I buy their CD. While this is a better alternative to listening to what is on the radio...sometimes it is exhausting. I spent several years not really caring much about music. I had a very active social life and it wasn't all that important. Though I am now mourning the death of my social life (which honestly my daughter more than makes up for) I am so happy to re-ignite my love affair with music. I love the hunt and when it pays off it is oh-so-worth it!
Posted 09/21/2005 - 03:15:50 AM by MoldyMan:
 yeah i think age has alot to do with it. Rock and Roll is for teenagers, your more open to stuff then and u get effected by music more. Now in my early twenties i still get effected but not as much and not as easily. My top ten albums of all time is mainly made up of albums i bought when i was a teenager.
Posted 09/21/2005 - 12:27:46 PM by ghillz:
 I worry that when I'm older (I'm 14) and downloading has taken over more, music won't excite me the way it does now. All of the old classic artists are new and exciting to me now, and the ritual of going to buy a CD with the little money I have makes me appreciate the music a lot more when I get it. Somehow I think listening to an MP3 player is going to be a big disappointment after sitting in the back of the car on a long journey holding tightly onto my cheap CD player to stop it skipping more than six times in a song.
Posted 09/22/2005 - 08:12:42 AM by bj_randolph:
 Yes, but when you were 11 did you have the picture-disc 7-inch of "Kayleigh"? BOO-YAH! SIDDOWN!
Posted 09/22/2005 - 06:41:48 PM by garlad1:
 blah, blah, tree falls in woods, blah, blah, nobody hears it, blah, blah, download aborted. Honestly, what you guys need is a REAL compulsive habit, like record digging. Or a more fulfilling life/hobby. Digital download is no substitute for the real thing...yet. All us old farts figured this stuff out back when the internet was still being invented. It just took Napster and the next 1/2 dozen iterations to bring it home.
Posted 09/23/2005 - 02:01:27 AM by idleidle:
 when you say 'And I mean everything'.. clearly you're just listening to 'everything' that other people consider to be cool (right now) in order to reach a sufficient fan level amongst your peers. And if 'everything' means scraping the surface of every artist and genre clearly you're not gonna get the greatest musical experience (which is why you're meant to be doing it right?) Use soulseek to find what you like, to listen before you buy and be done with it. Fuck, whats the big deal.. its music.. questioning these things clearly we've all got too much time on our hands in front of the computer.
Posted 09/23/2005 - 10:26:14 AM by GavinM:
 Worthless mp3s shouldn't give anyone neuroses... I'm sure you have just as many crap album tracks. You just can't obsess over whether to delete those or not. Put my squarely in the pro-downloading camp. I still regularly listen to plenty of stuff that knocks my socks off, and I manage to avoid the worst of binges because I know I can't listen to everything.
Nick's mistake is he was downloading for other people, not himself. He felt a responsibility to listen because he thought it would make him a better critic for his readers. He may have also felt urges to "keep up with the Joneses" on soulseek or ilm. You will inevitably lose these battles. Music became a means to another end.
An activity that helped me get off the track that Nick went down was DJing. When you have to distill 10,000 songs into a killer 2 hours, it puts the emphasis back on the music while turning a large collection into a good base (I did a weekly radio show, and I wanted the shows to vary a good deal). Make mixes for your friends, get a community radio show, shit, rock a party if you have the opportunity. This is the kind of stuff you did (or wanted to do) when you were 15 anyway. Good luck.
Posted 09/23/2005 - 11:25:01 AM by pabanks46:
 I think the bigger worry is that ppl on SLSK will spawn a generation of Pancake_Repairman. If you're on SLSK, you know what I mean: library of congress knowledge with mall punk taste.
Posted 09/24/2005 - 09:27:30 AM by happiness:
 nearly every person i've encountered who has apposed downloading for one reason or another has been a self proclaimed 'music snob'. this whole idea of having the actual record to hold in your hand to fully appreciate it is bogus. let me share why this music snobbery should stop: the other night i was reading an old text book on 'world music', flipping through the chapter on blues. i was taken back by the stories of these artists and quickly devoured the remaining 150 pages. on finishing, i opened up soulseek and downloaded one artist after another. washington phillips, mississippi john hurt, magic sam, ext. this was one of the most magical times of my life. i didn't have the file to hold in my hand but it didn't matter. if music is that good, you don't think about anything else, just the music coming from your speaker and the way it makes you feel. i've had a similar experience downloading the recommended discography after reading 'vanilla pop' by joseph lanza. same thing with bob dylan's catalog. same thing with music from around the world... early juju, chimurenga, rai, ext. i read the stories and connect with their history and their music. it seems the music snobs are not connected to the music - just the growth of their collections. we're not taking into account that after listening to a certain number of albums, we get better at it. each generation will get music from different sources, and listen to music on different machines. before downloading, weren't the music snobs complaining about cds? the art work has to be squished into 5 inches of space, it doesn't sound organic, same cheap and sterile listen every time, ext. so is vinyl the only quality listening experience? should we all conform to the snobbery just because they can only connect with a 45? where do we draw the line? just as my parents sat around the radio to get their (free) music, i sit at my computer. i think the snobs need to get off their high horse and stop setting ridiculous requirements to how one can enjoy music. if you really want to support a band, see a live show and visit their merch table.. try to hold a live show in your snobbish hands.
Posted 09/25/2005 - 01:10:07 AM by dougrokakis:
 I hate Pancake_Repairman...
Posted 09/25/2005 - 09:18:21 PM by joeyjeremiah:
 happiness: anti-downloaders aren't as narrow minded as you make out. For every asshole music snob there are five kids who place absolutely no value on music at all because they are used to consuming a free, shitty, low-quality product. I love CDs, and well mastered CDs sound great. Also, I like my music and you like yours and I don't have better taste than you. Being able to download anything instantly is great, but you could've supported these artists (or their labels or their families who own the rights if they've passed away) by finding their stuff on a legal site. And if you'd logged on to Google or Amazon you'd have found legal copies of CDs or vinyl in minutes. The live show point is great, but I still don't believe in downloading, especially pirating.
Posted 09/26/2005 - 06:02:25 AM by ckramer:
 reading this kind of disturbed me, not because the rate you consume but the rate i consume. I don't download but I listen to probably 10-15 cds i've never heard before a week (about 10 new releases to review for the station i work at I grab at least 15 or 20 and listen to the ones i like and then i go to the library and pick up about 5 (10) cds i feel i need to hear. I always say i just need to build the base then i can stop. and my rate has slowed but i don't know, i think alot of people experience this weird idea of compulsive consumption that you presented.
Posted 09/28/2005 - 07:08:00 AM by shucks:
 Though I guess the number of posters says it all, I just want to make it explicit: I hope it does become a column - the themes of quantity/quality, love/curiosity etc. are very interesting and important.
Posted 10/13/2005 - 06:04:42 AM by deepcloud:
 Perhaps this has more to do with the inherent musical limits of pop/rock/whatever, rather than over consumption due to downloading. Maybe it really DOES all sound the same? As well, i think age is a large factor. If you are in your thirties or forties or older, how often do you take the opinions/feelings of twenty-somethings seriously? Think about when you were 18 or 19 and your 14 year old brother expounded on the importance of in his or her life and you just chuckled and shook your head, thinking, "fucking kids these days." Even if open-minded, is one really able to take the opinions of someone who is years younger seriously? Basically, age makes one cynical, and bitter.