When I was a teenager I had about a dozen records. I listened to them over and over again. We listened to the radio but the stations we listened to played songs that were on the top forty list. This limited our exposure to new music.
As I got older we entered the era of the mix tape. We would make tapes of our favorite songs and share them with our friends. This was also the era of album rock FM stations. This broadened our experience quite a bit.
By this time I had played in several garage bands. We never played in garages but we didn’t play gigs per se either. We practiced a lot and taught each other songs. We even wrote a few songs along the way.
When I graduated from high school I got a job playing guitar in the saloon show of a western theme park. This experience taught me that when you play the same song four times a day, six days a week for weeks on end, you get very tired of them.
When I was in the Army I encountered what we called the barracks rat. This was a guy with no family, no obligations, and nothing better to spend their money on than expensive stereo equipment and records. I spent many a Sunday afternoon listening to music in the barracks with my barracks rat friends.
The next innovation in music delivery was the CD. It was easier to take care of than with a record or a tape and soon after it hit the market computers started coming with CD burners so that you could make copies of the music. It. was a dark time for professional musicians.
Napster came along and changed the game again. You could download any music that you wanted off the internet. This made it even harder on the professional musician. But soon we saw indie artists that were taking advantage of the situation and making their money from playing concerts and selling merchandise, including copies of their own CDs. This model seemed to work well for some artists.
This brings us to the modern streaming era. The breadth of exposure is unbelievably large. Artists are somehow managing to make a living in spite of the wide availability of free performances through music streaming services like last.fm and Pandora and video sites like You Tube and Vimeo.
I’m not sure how musicians make a living these days but I know that I listen to more different music than ever and occasionally I buy some. As much as music has meant to me up until now in my life I have to conclude that it is more of an integral part of my daily life than it ever had been earlier in my life.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.