Rant: On the Digital Revolution

HughesyBeachWDespite the cries of doom and gloom from the major music companies there haven’t been too many better times for people who are interested in popular music that is away from the mainstream. And there is every possibility that times will become even more interesting in the future.

The digital music revolution which spawned the iPod and similar devices has only started to reshape the way people consume music has a way to go before it reaches its logical conclusion, and there is every chance that it will end up far beyond the bounds of any current pundit’s imagination.

When the compact disk came into the marketplace twenty-odd years ago, anyone who suggested that an average consumer would be able to carry their CD collection around with them and have instantaneous access to any track on any disk would have been laughed at, yet in 2006 not only can you carry your music collection around in your pocket, you can send the sound to your car’s FM receiver, watch music videos and update your collection from online music libraries. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Recent developments have meant that it is now possible for virtually anyone who owns a reasonably up-to-date computer can create their own CD quality recordings for minimal cost, though creative talent is, of course, something that you can’t download. Yet.  For an example of what can be done with a lounge room, an iMac, a couple of microphones, an acoustic guitar and a collection of better-than-average songs, check out an album called Surf by Roddy Frame. 

Want to go a bit further and convert the garage or the shed in the back yard to a studio? Check out Richard Thompson’s Front Parlour Ballads or Little Feat’s Kicking It At The Barn as examples of what’s possible.

Each of those examples come from artists with lengthy careers, considerable writing talent and significant vocal or instrumental chops. Significantly none of them have record contracts with a major label.


B© Ian Hughes 2012