I remember counting the days until the next silverchair record came out, camping out overnight for concert tickets, and listening to gritty rock records with a good group of friends. It was an amazing time, and music was such an integral part of so many young people’s lives.

We’re not even talking ten years ago here, and yet, it seems like ages ago that all of this was going on, or that there was ever such a thing as a music EXPERIENCE. Was it just that music was so much more captivating then; that we felt much more compelled to contribute to the artists we enjoyed rather than illegally download their songs, or that we weren’t as impatient as we are now when it came to waiting for a new record? Whatever the reason, music is no longer the soundtrack of our LIVES.

It’s strange…there are more ways than ever to access new music, yet its perceived value is so small. Maybe this is because there are so many different artists, genres and subgenres to sort through, or because music is now so easily accessible and considered FREE (to everyone else but the artist of course).

Consequently, because it is no longer seen as valuable, film and TV producers have tightened their music budgets (bad for artists wanting to license their music–one of the few money-making avenues left), major recording studios and record labels are going out of business, and thousands of artists–even name artists–are struggling more than ever.

What’s even worse is that no one in the industry knows where music is going. A lot of questions are being raised by artists and industry folk alike, and it’s completely understandable. If there’s no money to be made in music, why make it? Why market it? What invest in it? That’s not to say that I myself am going to put down my instrument and stop producing albums, because I truly love what I do, and I do it for myself, but if things continue along this trend, a lot of artists are going to have to figure out something else to do in order to supplement their income. It’s either that or they starve.

More than anything though, it hurts to see that music is becoming background noise. Because we have about a billion things going on in our heads, and we’re constantly barraged with advertisements and new technologies, we don’t have the mental capacity anymore to actually sit and analyze a composition or watch a musical performance. If you really broke a song down, you’d really see the beauty unfold. Listen to the movements, the melody, the LYRICS. Someone wrote that song. If you were that artist, wouldn’t you really appreciate it if someone took the time to truly LISTEN to what you had to say?

While it’s a great thing that we have all these new and innovative methods of promotion (Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) and distribution (CDBaby, iTunes, Rhapsody, etc) that we never had before, some of the more personal elements of music I feel have also been lost. For example, not many people buy CDs anymore (except for people from the old school like me, haha) so they won’t get to see the CD inlay. There’s something about looking on an inside CD cover and reading the lyrics, seeing the pictures, and finding out what kind of guitars your favorite band uses. Maybe it’s just me, but I like having that little something extra. It’s like looking at the special features on a DVD.

I’m not asking anyone to stop downloading or buy more CDs (because both inevitably won’t happen), but I am asking everyone to APPRECIATE music. Artists struggle and suffer to make the music that’s playing in the background of your favorite video game, or on the commercial you just watched. I know you’ve heard this a billion times, but it’s true: music is the universal language. It’s just up to you how you want to decipher it.

Originally posted 2009-01-24 19:05:35.