I never thought I'd hear myself say that I don’t yearn to go back to physical music — vinyl, CDs etc. Streaming has become too convenient — anything I want to hear any time I want to hear it. On the ground or above the clouds.
My issue with streaming has always been with how the streaming services pay us...or don’t pay us. But now that the Music Modernization Act is on its way to being implemented it looks like our bank accounts will improve. So I’m able to stream without being laden with guilt for cooperating with a system that’s f*cking me over.
Sure, I’ll always be nostalgic for hardcopy liner notes, album covers and turntables. But I’ve accepted that certain ships have sailed and will never return to shore as the primary delivery method. And so, why not embrace the advantages of digital?
That said, there is one element of analog I’m having trouble quelling my nostalgia for: the Music Space — where enthusiasts can still convene and discover…not just their favorite bands but each other. A space (other than a concert), where common ground brings people together physically and passionately under the same roof. Like food in a restaurant. Film in a theatre. A space where hardly anyone knows your name but we all know we came for the same reason.
When Tower Records loomed large over Sunset Blvd it was the hub of our city for music lovers — a sanctuary where we could refuel our souls. Sometimes we’d even meet the gaze of another human being perusing the same record we came to investigate. And we might tell them so. And we might start a conversation. And we might wind up going out for a drink. And maybe something more. :) IMO, this was a much more romantic environment in which to merge than the online hit or miss of Match.com
I’m grateful for my local Amoeba Records but that’s only one scene. For the amount of music that’s consumed and for how big a part of culture it is, doesn’t it warrant a more public arena? And a location in every a city?
But how do we lure people into a physical space when it’s too easy and affordable to expand our libraries via our DSPs?
Well, maybe the new venture would have to offer up some goodies we can’t get through taps and clicks — a chardonnay, a gin and tonic, a cup of coffee…orders taken and delivered by friendly servers strolling aisles and aisles of song junkies on interactive listening stations or browsing prototypes of album artwork and track-lists. Maybe this venue would be equipped with multi mini-theatre performance stages where we could listen or be listened to (like the The Magic Castle is for magicians), which makes for easy access to potential fans, followers and future concert ticket buyers in person. Merch booths.
Maybe there’d be a $10 cover for a 2-hour experience, a membership fee for unlimited visits, an adjacent full service diner or barber shop or skating rink. Hey, on a recent trip to Zurich I stumbled upon a indoor Badminton-Bar. Check it out. Anything goes.
Help me here. Am I naive? I’m a lefty. Right brained. I was never good at economics. Is this business model just too antiquated? Not viable? Is there no room culturally for a space like this?Don’t get me wrong, btw. I cherish my independent listening. I just can’t help but feel that a social element is a well-needed alternative (re-turnative?) to the autonomous experience our connectivity to music has become.
Isn’t there something to be said for the synergy, the buzz, the eye contact, the pulse, the heartbeats? Or is this idea as backwards as a turntable? Are we just too content, lazy, or satisfied with the privacy of life inside our AirPods?
Why can’t there be both?