So I read this article a few weeks ago about no albums selling enough to go platinum this year, and I wasn’t really too surprised. It’s no secret that album sales have been declining for years. But a few conversations I had with people have really driven the point home for me.
Being the world’s biggest music nerd, naturally i like to keep track of album release dates for my favorite artists, and do research on new music that i might be interested in. Knowing that T.I. and Logic’s new albums were dropping in a few days, I figured I’d support one of my favorite southern rappers of all time and a newer rapper out of Maryland who raps like his life depends on it.
When I told a couple of my friends what i was gonna get from the store, they asked me the same question I’d gotten numerous times before:
“You still buy CDs?” (With the usual look of utter shock/amusement)
Usually I’ll also get the response “I’m about to just download it online,” or better yet, “Why pay for music when you can just get it for free?”
People have always looked at me funny for saying that I buy music. Of all the weird things I do, it’s funny that me purchasing and supporting music i actually LIKE is considered weird, but it’s truly a testament to the times we live in.
Technology, specifically the internet, has made the long lost art of buying music nearly culturally irrelevant. Sure, there’s still iTunes, but nobody’s trying to spend money when the latest album or single is just a Google search away. And with music streaming services being the new thing, buying music is almost seen as outlandish to a lot of people.
Maybe it’s just the music nerd in me, but I’ve always been happy to pay for music, at least when I was wholeheartedly into it. Of course I still download music online for “free” (or just stream it via YouTube or Spotify), but I’m literally one of the few people I know who still likes to monetarily support the music I like. A lot of people can argue and say they support artists they like through their tours or merchandise, but I know some people for a FACT that do those things but still haven’t bought any of the actual music. And that’s baffling to me.
Why is it that in this day and age, buying the actual music is less important?
The music is supposed to be what it’s all about! Before the tours, before the clothing lines, before the interviews, before the popularity, it’s about the music.
There’s probably a billion things that a person could or should spend their money on instead of music. But I just feel like as a person who supports art and the culture of hip-hop and music in general, there are people who claim the same and refuse to put their money where their mouths are.
For me it’s bigger than the amount of money I’m spending. For me, it’s the partaking in an artform I wholeheartedly love. It’s supporting music and artists that speak to me.
That’s always meant a lot to me as a music fan. Nowadays a lot of people claim to stand for things but it’s more for show than it is for the love or passion they actually have for it. I feel like that’s especially true with how social media makes things very “for the moment.” The way people complain about the quality of music nowadays, you think they’d be willing to actually DO something about it. Making music on a major level requires a lot of money, and even though a lot of people are quick to dismiss this fact because because artists are “rich,” the money you put toward an artist you support actually does count for something.
I’ll conclude with this point: look at Taylor Swift’s recent sales for her album 1989. She’s the only artist (so far) this year to have gone platinum. Now, the week her album dropped, her face was plastered all over the front page of iTunes. I was immediately angered by this. I said to myself, “these damn record labels aren’t playing fair.” But my perspective changed when I saw (legendary Hip-Hop producer/exec) No ID tweet something about Taylor Swift’s album sales. He essentially said that people need to stop saying albums aren’t selling when people continuously show out and buy all her albums.
To me that was almost a call to arms. In my eyes, it showed that it really isn’t necessarily that people don’t want to buy albums, but that less and less artists are doing enough to make people care enough to buy them. Obviously there are A LOT of factors that play a part in this (I’ll save that for a different article), but obviously Taylor Swift’s music connects to her fan base in a way that makes them buy her record EVERY TIME it drops. If there’s music that connects to you in that way, don’t be ashamed/afraid to BUY IT! Don’t complain about crappy artists going platinum or gaining popularity when you can’t do the very thing that would put your favorite artists in that same position.
I pay for music because I appreciate art, because I want QUALITY music to be seen and heard, and because i want artists who create that to be able to keep doing it. And if all it takes is me paying $10-15 for an album or buying some merchandise, it’s the least I can do for people who inspire me on a daily basis.