For the Sake of Art and Humanity, We Have to Start Paying for Music Again

The artist Adele made big news when she announced that her album "25" wouldn't be available via streaming. That means no Pandora or Spotify. If you want to listen to the album, you'll have to do the unthinkable and actually buy it.

There's no doubt there were some fans disappointed to hear the news, but this type of move is one of the best things that can happen to us. For the sake of art and humanity, we have to start paying for music again.

If you're my age or older, we grew up in an era that had to spend real money on music. And although you could sample CDs in some record stores by the time I was a teenager in the 1990s, purchase of music carried real risks versus rewards. Sometimes you got a great album. Sometimes you got a dud. But either way, once you made your purchase, you were committed. Maybe you didn't like all the songs on that album at first, but dammit, you would try to force yourself try to listen to the whole thing hoping to develop an appreciation for it. Purchases that didn't work out meant you had to acknowledge the real failure of your decision to waste real money on crap. 

In those days, good music had real value. That's missing today.

I don't think I'm unique when I acknowledge that the $10 I spend every month on Spotify does practically nothing for any of the artists to which I listen, yet I find myself appreciating what they've provided less and less. Instead, I find myself constantly craving the next new thing. I want something different. The flavor of the month has given way to the flavor of the day and even the flavor of the hour. As far as the album I actually cared a sliver enough about to download (at no additional cost, I might add), it gets listened to once or twice then buried far away in the back of my mind. My give-a-shit meter just doesn't register anything anymore. I have no real skin in the game. 

The fact that we can listen to pretty much anything at any time means that hardly any one piece of music has any real value. And no value means no emotional desire to let it grow on you, or to really take the time to understand the nuances of what was created and how they truly make it great.

It's a downward spiral. The end result of feeling nothing is to feel dead inside, and dead inside is no way to live. As consumers of art, dammit, we have a moral responsibility to give a shit one way or the other about what we consume. Love it, hate it, hate that you love it or love hating it, please, feel something. 

Even a poorly produced record had to have someone give a piece of their soul by either writing a song, performing it, or both. It took someone trying to engineer it in just the right way to get it to sound as good as they could make it. We owe these people more. If you like a song, take the time to really like it. Be glad you paid real money for it. Rejoice in the sacrifice that you made and the payoff it provided. Give it more than just a shrug while you're chasing your next high. 

As I write this, I find myself disgusted with myself for the way that I, for one, have treated these artists. All that effort to add to the soundtrack of my life, and how little I seem to care sometimes. 

So good for Adele and other artists like her. More should follow suit. If it takes a few bucks for people to actually appreciate what's been created, then it's money well spent. Both for the artists and for our souls. 

Jason Griffin is a blogger & podcaster who writes about business, media, politics & life. Keep up with latest posts by liking on Facebookfollowing on Twitter, or subscribing with RSS. 

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