Today, Americans listen to anything they want.
For no cost.
Mediums such as Spotify, YouTube, and their peer companies allow free access to nearly all of recorded musical history and this has been gradually becoming the precedent for future generations of music fans.
Accessibility to all music has its pros and cons. The ability to hear diverse sounds that one might never be turned onto otherwise is the most substantial advantage. Others include the power to play music when and where ever the user desires. These prove to be heavenly features modern mediums provide us.
But is complete accessibility always beneficial for a listener? Does it affect how much they appreciate music as art?
With the ability to listen to any track, the notion of the album becomes, in terms of the broad scope of listners, irrelevant. Listener’s over the years have been conditioned, by their all-encompassing accessibility, to not desire to comprehend an artist’s work in full. When it’s easy to listen to what we want, and when we succumb to our “need” of instant gratification, we tend to satisfy ourselves with that specific hit we love, for a means of our entertainment.
Entertainment holds quite a warm place in the human heart, but does entertainment always reflect a mature view of human emotion? The point I try to make is that modern media attempts to place “value” on works that entertain, and entertain only, rather than works that affect the human soul as pieces of art.
The oversaturated online libraries within easy reach allow a sense of urgency that make listeners forget what it’s like to just sit down alone by a fireplace with a glass of wine, spinning their favorite record in its entirety, being covered all over by the atmosphere of that artist they love and filled with a sense of emotional value.
Sentimental moments such as those never have the oppurtunity to occur today because the listener had already listened to some of that artist’s hits along with irritating commericals on the car ride home from work.
Do Americans not appreciate music as much today because they aren’t willing to give themselves over to the full experience that the art was intended to create? Do Americans not want to sit alone in a musical atmosphere for forty-ish minutes and reflect on their ideas every once in a while?
If modern Americans do not care about music as much as former generations, would it be because cheap entertainment has become more prominent than expressive musical artistry in the majority of casual listeners’ daily lives? Ask yourself, does the top 40 in general over the past decade reflect intentions of appeasing the human urge to instantly gratify themselves on the aesthetic values of music or does it reflect intentions of providing a deep human to human connection based in a marriage of both the aeshetic and contential values?
Maybe, if previous generations cared more, it was because they purchased and actually owned their music. They could access the art that meant something to them by paying with money that they worked for. The art possessed not only an emotional value, but a specific monetary value. People, because they had paid for it, made more conscious efforts to enjoy and analyze the record and “get their money’s worth” so to speak. This, as the listener’s record collection grew, would be a basis for which music they thought was valuable and why they did or didn’t.
Paying for the music drives the urge to give more attention to the art that was just bought. Whether the attention is positive or negative, the listener, for the sake of knowing the value of what they purchased, actively listens to the work.