I come from the last generation to buy music on tape.
While I did own one record (*ahem* this one), by the time I left primary school, my feeble tape collection consisted of both Spice Girls albums (90’s child, me), a hand-me-down Take That album from my older cousin (back when they were doing their dancey thing with Robbie), singles by Peter Andre and Robson & Jerome and, of course, the star of every child’s school disco: Whigfield’s Saturday Night.
As you can see, my music collection was off to a cracking start.
When I was 13, my parents got me a CD player for Christmas and everything changed. From that point on, it was pop music and my CD collection that dominated my adolescence. There was no Youtube or Spotify. When it came to getting hold of a tune we liked, we’d head out to town every Saturday with our pocket money and pop into Woolworths to buy something that was currently gracing the charts (and hopefully still in stock). Lazy days indoors were spent flicking between MTV (back when the ‘M’ stood for ‘Music’ rather than ‘Mindless reality’), The Box and VH1 in hopes that a music video by one of our favourite musicians/bands would suddenly appear.
As the years went on, my taste in music changed dramatically but I still continued to buy CDs. Then, five years ago, I joined the modern world and got my hands on an iPod. It was nothing big or fancy – Just a purple iPod Nano that could hold 16GB worth of songs – but it changed the way I collected music in a huge way. Like the majority of people these days, I discovered that you could get your hands on most music for free.
After sampling tracks on Spotify or Grooveshark, one seemingly innocent (but completely illegal) click of a mouse would have a full album downloaded and ready to put on your MP3 player in no time at all. Programs like Utorrent or bitTorrent were especially helpful to those of us struggling to pay rent, feed ourselves and combat debt. Instead of saving what little money we could to go towards an album we’d been craving, we took it for free and played it to our heart’s content without a second thought.
Of course, I’m preaching to the choir here.
90% of people with access to the internet and an MP3 player know that music can come for free if we want it too. We also know that it’s against the law.
But, until recently, like most people, I’d not really given a thought about the impact my actions were having on the music industry.