Having written a paean to physical music I discussed the subject with some friends, all of them big music fans but none having a particular attachment to records or CDs, their music collections almost exclusively in digital formats. Without fail the prevalent response to why they chose digital over physical was about cost, the consensus being they owned more illegally downloaded music than paid downloads.
It seems they’re a fairly representative group, BPI research from 2013 estimates only 28% of the UK population legally download music, which means there’s an awful lot who acquire it through illegal means.
Having also got a number of friends who are musicians and realising the financial limitations of the current music industry it saddens me that people don’t see music as something of value. I don’t want to preach about supporting the talents of musicians and I appreciate that the internet has forever changed a lot of industries, particularly creative ones. Film and TV industries were just as hit by piracy, and journalists or authors funding models have changed irrevocably too.
I think I have a solution for my friends, readers or anyone with a love of music but neither the money or inclination to pay a lot for their music, ‘Second Hand Music’. The process isn’t complicated, go out and acquire yourself a cheap or used record player (a quick browse of eBay turns up a number with speakers for as little as £20), maybe ask your family, perhaps someone has one in the attic?
The second part is go out and buy yourself some cheap records, you needn’t pay £10+ for an album, your local charity shop or car boot sale will usually sell them for as little as 50p. Look online and find your local used record shops, as a Londoner my local favourites are the Music Exchanges which have entire bargain basements where records are all just £1. Maybe make a trip of it, if you’re visiting another city, look in advance and make a journey to the local used record shop to browse their bargains.
When you return home with your purchase, make listening to it an event in its own right, sit on your favourite chair, put the record on, maybe have a read of the sleeve notes or just sit with your eyes closed for a bit and drink it in. Note – attempt to keep your phone/tablet/laptop off, to appreciate music you need to give it your attention, not have it in the background whilst you’re on Facebook.
Then, once you’ve been out shopping a few times, invested a whopping ten or twenty quid on a stack of albums maybe invite your friends over for a drink and pop a few records on, I guarantee you’ll start more good conversations about music than your iTunes playlist ever did.
One final suggestion, maybe write about the music, leave the new music reviews to the professionals, find an album that you don’t know or maybe forgot about over time and review it with fresh ears today. That’s what I plan to do, I’ll post some blogs reviewing a few of my experiences on these pages. Just because the music is cheap, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a value, go out and find your own treasure, no matter how inexpensive…