It’s never too late to discover popular music.
Some things, like that signed 12″ vinyl copy of Everything Everything’s new release Get To Heaven are indeed, fleeting. If you’re not quick, you’ve missed your chance (I had to settle for the CD instead). However nowadays this only applies to the physical. Luckily for us, we live in a day and age where pretty much any music can be accessed at any time, anywhere, via the power of the internet. This means if you missed it on the radio, if it dropped out of the charts before you fell in love with it or if none of your friends own it, it doesn’t matter. It’s instantly accessible on your laptop, tablet or phone.
I have an insatiable appetite for new music and to be honest – I do find most of it using the internet. Whether it’s through watching YouTube videos and clicking on similar artists, via Spotify or online articles, you can’t deny the power the internet has to fuel your musical interests; especially when Facebook picks up on the things you’re interested in and posts them onto your news feed. Radio 1 and NME are a permanent fixture on mine.
Naturally radio, gigs and festivals are also a brilliant place to discover new music. However what about the humble magazine? Q, Rocksound, The New Musical Express (yes that’s what they call it on my delivery slip at work – completely threw me each time I saw it for the first few weeks) used to be the primary sources for music trends and information.
Why buy something when you can get the information for free you ask?? Well that’s a good question. Perhaps, I think, it’s sometimes nice not to have to sift through gargantuan amounts of information whilst endless, formidable looking tabs stare at you from your browser, and rather, to have a quantifiable and manageable amount sat in front of you, in tangible form. Let’s face it; all those little captions, pictures and links are too tempting to resist. You’ve already clicked on two more before you’ve finished reading the current one!
Magazines are also great for people like me who spend an awful lot of time browsing rather than doing their washing or other productive things.. there’s just too much content yo!
I write all this because it was in fact thanks to The NME mag that I discovered Grimes. I’d heard of her of course and knew that Radio 1 had given her the big nod of approval but she was someone who had slipped my radar. Over the past three years I’ve really been getting into my electro/techno/dance music which I never have before; something to do with attending an art college full of dope smoking, amateur dramatic hippies (terrible stereotype but so true!). It was SBTRCKT who pretty much kick-started the whole thing for me though. He collaborated on a song with Mercury Award nominee Jessie Ware (who I am a fan of) for his debut album and so I gave him a listen and found that he was the first dub-step/soul/house artist that I actually enjoyed listening to.
I have Spotify to thank for that and subsequently for allowing me to listen to his even more impressive second record.
If it hadn’t been for the colourful and eccentric array of different artist and band faces on the front cover of NME though, I never would have snooped inside and read about Grimes being among the many artists to have a new album out this year. It was that that finally pushed me into my first Grimes listening session (outside of a club where I was probably listening to it unknowingly). When you enjoy as many different types of music as I do, it’s hard to keep up-to-date with yourself. I have an actual post-it note list on my computer of music I want to either buy or listen to.
NME are infamous for their covers; often iconic, stark photographs of their feature musicians. I hope they’re still going when I’m boring my grandchildren about my first experience of Glastonbury festival.
No-one could have predicted years ago that one day people would be downloading music onto computer devices to listen to instantly, neither could they have predicted that the same global phenomenon would allow people to purchase copies of pre-order vinyl produced by artists which would sell out after a few days.
Consumerism is a funny thing.
One thing’s for sure, music mags are still as vital as they were 20 years ago – to the musicians and to the consumers that buy them. The sales might not be as great, but that’s true of all physical music.
The trick is to enjoy every medium as and when it suits you, as much as you can.