Monday, January 10, 2011

Music: What are we missing?

Due to lack of anything truly productive to accomplish, I preoccupied myself by going online to watch a lot of old music videos and read about artists that I practically grew up listening to. After some thought, it occurred to me that I am in fact a witness to the music industry's disintegration since the propagation of free music sharing via mp3 in the late '90s.

If you think that's sad, I feel a lot worse about this because I know I contributed to its demise by downloading my favorite music. Yes, I would rarely buy EPs and albums. And I would be a liar if I said I no longer do that, because I still do. But, it's just like what Bob Dylan said, "you better swim now, or you'll sink like a stone/ coz the times they are a-changin'...". Free music available on the internet is something we (musicians and listeners) have to accept, however painstaking.

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The truth is, most record companies almost no longer give breaks to musicians with real talent and potential because they don't want to risk losing money on anyone. They would rather spend it on "sure hit musicians", which leaves us all with little variety to listen to these days. But, my saying this doesn't mean I don't listen to pop music. My point is, more of these other artists should be heard. Great music can be heard in the internet, all we have to do is know how to use this medium to find it. As listeners, it is our role to know more. It's not enough that we just take in what's laid down before us.

For struggling musicians, I imagine they earn more revenue in doing gigs and concerts than in actual record sales. I remember when Trent Reznor left his record label and boldly stepped out to distribute music directly to fans. You can read more about his opinion on free music here. I also remember a friend of mine once said, "Music, in the purest sense, should be free", and I honestly still believe in it. But, if making it free would mean real music will not be heard, then we have to find other ways to help the industry.

Here in the Philippines, I could still remember the days when local mainstream radio stations played good music back in the '90s. Playlists included music from Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Jeff Buckley, Morrissey, Jars of Clay, Moby, Filter, Blind Melon, Collective Soul, Barenaked Ladies, and it went on and on (along with some Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys, of course). Though they played selected hits from the said artists, radio stations were able to introduce good artists to listeners while still playing bubble gum pop. Back then, they were able to maintain balance to cater to every listener's taste, which I don't see happening much these days (save for a select few). There are stations that mostly play old music, but they don't really introduce us to good new music, except for this one (and I hope more people would go and follow).

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After this realization that the music industry is really in bad shape, I've decided to make a list of albums I must buy. I'm not really buying them out of guilt, I'm doing so because: 1) I want to support these artists 2) I want MY own copy of their albums because their music has become part of my life 3) in the purest sense, I genuinely love music.

I will update my list soon. For now, I have listed below my top must have albums (in no particular order):

Radiohead - any, if not, all albums
R.E.M. - any, if not, all albums
Stereophonics - any, if not, all albums
The Cardigans - any, if not, all albums
Pete Yorn - musicforthemorningafter
Belle and Sebastian - any, if not, all albums
Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
Vertical Horizon - Everythng You Want
The Smiths and Morrissey - any, if not, all albums
Jeff Buckley - any, if not, all albums
Oasis - Definitely Maybe, any, if not, all albums
Fra Lippo Lippi - Light and Shade, Crash of light album
The Cure - any, if not, all albums
Tool - Lateralus
A Perfect Circle - Mer De Noms
The Sundays - any, if not, all albums
Feist - any, if not, all albums
Death Cab for Cutie - any, if not, all albums
Gin Blossoms - any, if not, all albums
The Pixies

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OPM artists/albums:

Eraserheads - Cutterpillow, any, if not, all albums
Johnoy Danao - Dapithapon
Cynthia Alexander - Ripping Yarns
Urbandub - Influence
My Imaginary Friends
Barbie's Cradle (I gave away my CD to an old friend, I want my own again)

If you know these albums/artists I've posted, then well and good. Let's hang out some time, we have a lot of "catching up" to do. If you don't, why not try listening to them some time? I promise you, you won't regret it.

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