16
Jul 00

Log On, Tune In, Drop Out

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Log On, Tune In, Drop Out: finally some interesting thoughts on the impact online music will have on how we listen to and socialise through music. Michelle Goldberg is gloomy – internet radio is solipsistic and unlikely to create a community, and MP3s herald the death of the album, and thus the death of the album-as-cultural-touchstone (count the Lauryn Hill references). Oh, and nobody on the Napster bulletin boards wants to talk about music.

Yes, yes, and yes. But she doesn’t mention the benefits – online bulletin boards and small-scale zines have a positive impact on ‘music community’, and if the communities thus created tend to be small, well, that’s in many ways a more realistic and satisfying situation. A radio station threatened with closure can mobilise 10,000 protestors, which is great, but I can run a zine and actually get to know a good proportion of the regular readership, and that feels just as good too.

In the long run it’s better for music, too. Again speaking from personal experience, most of the people I’ve ‘met’ online don’t share my music tastes (and I’m sure you can’t blame them). What they share is a love of certain ways of approaching music and thinking about it.* That actually means that we all get introduced to much more new music too – had we met through a certain band or label mailing list or radio station, there’d be much more unity of taste and a consequent lack of adventurousness.

*(What this means, I’ve suddenly realised, is that I’ve made hardly any friends online through mutual liking of bands, but several through mutual liking of music journalists, including Mike who sent me this link. This probably makes me a deeply sad individual.)

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