Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Different Approach

Bob Lefsetz's recent post regarding Jay Z and iTunes caught me off guard a bit. It had nothing to do with Jay Z's decision to leave his concept album off iTunes. I agree with Lefsetz's argument there. It was his statement about how we listen to music now:

People haven’t listened to albums from start to finish since the death of vinyl. And, even in the vinyl days, we’d get up from the couch and needle-drop to skip lame tracks, to hear only what we wanted....

My iPod is permanently on shuffle. How about yours?

Really? Because I don't. Maybe I'm out of touch but I still want to listen to albums all the way through on my iPod. My approach has been to start with a song and if it's great, I'll seek out the album and listen to it. I think that's the way musicians would want it. If you like the album, maybe you buy it, maybe you go to a show. That's $ in their pocket. Would you do this if you just liked one song? Of course not, nor should you. It's emblematic of the changing music industry.

I still value the concept of an album (hell, I still buy cds on occasion). If the album isn't any good then I just lose interest and that's the end of it. Two examples: Apostle of Hustle released two insanely great tracks at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, to me at least, the rest of the album never lived up to those first two songs and I've since lost interest. On the other side, a friend recommended Yeasayer, I heard "2080" and subsequently was completely blown away by their album. It's easily one of the five best I've heard all year (I bought it and I'd like to see them live). I realize it's rare these days for an album to be great from start to finish but in an age of, what seems like, limitless music (and a lot of crap) those are the expectations I've set. Thats how I choose to listen to music when walking to work or working out and I don't really see my approach changing anytime soon.


Gus said...

I agree. I'm always listening to albums from top to bottom, but understand that people like us are becoming fewer and fewer. Lefsetz has it wrong though - it wasn't the death of vinyl that started this "revolution", but rather the invention of radio. Now, having an iPod is like being the DJ of your own radio station, but better - no commercials and you don't have to listen to the latest Pink single 3x an hour.

JK said...

good points Gus. Lefsetz tends to speak to mainstream music and he's probably right, most of those albums really do contain 1 or 2 good songs. Apparently, it's the "educated" music listeners such as ourselves that are aware of bands that can actually put out solid albums from top to bottom.