I think we can all agree that Rupert Murdoch is an arse, for so very many reasons. At the moment there’s all the stuff with the ‘phone hacking and the media buy-outs. All ghastly, no doubt about it. But he is an arse for more reasons than that.
Technology is changing the consumption of music. As a child or teenager, the sight of an undisguisable LP under the Christmas Tree was a beautiful moment and record collections were prized and protected. Young people would gather to, genuinely, listen to records and music was shared and joyfully consumed.
CD’s then made one’s record collection more portable and less bulky, whilst remaining scrumptiously tangible and ‘on show’ as a testament to one’s taste and general grooviness.
But now there is the MP3 player. I love my iPod with a big love, but I use it in the same way that I used to copy my LPs onto cassettes; it is a way of making my physical music collection portable. I also download podcasts which is utterly marvellous because now I never have to miss my favourite programmes from my beloved Radio 4. I then burn these podcasts to disc, catalogue them and place them on a shelf so they become REAL. MP3 files don’t feel really real to me – they feel like a backup. But before you say it, I am clearly an old git.
The one thing that seems to have evolved from the intangibility of downloads is that live music is more popular than ever. The public spend on live concerts has rocketed in the last few years and, if that is a side-effect of digital music, then hooray to that.
There is nothing, but nothing, to compare to the joy of hearing live music performed in front of you. I remember, as though it was yesterday, the night that Sister the First took me to the Albert Hall to hear the soprano, Margaret Marshall, perform. I was twelve years old, we sat in a box to the right of the stage, and I had never heard anything so enrapturing and beautiful in my life. I could feel the tears in my eyes as the combination of her voice, the orchestra and the company of others enveloped me and swamped my senses.
The point is that the people who make the music are playing the music, right there in front of you, and everybody present shares your enthusiasm and your desire to be there. I have floated to Madame Butterfly, roared along with The Proclaimers, crooned (in harmony) with The Andrews Sisters and lost half a stone through excessive pogo-ing to The Undertones. Live music is brilliant beyond words.
Not according to Rupert Murdoch though. According to Rupert Murdoch in The Times a couple of weeks ago, “If you love music, instead of paying £100 to go to a great concert, you pay 99 cents to get it on your iPod and you’ve got it for life, wherever you are.” Not instead of, you tosser – as well as!
And while we’re on the subject of Murdoch, here’s another tossy thing he said to the poor beleaguered Times correspondent (and I paraphrase): All children should have computer tablets and through such advances … the finest teachers in every course, in every subject, in every grade will be available to every child.
Now, children. Can you guess who owns 90% of a $360 million company called Wireless Generation in Brooklyn, USA? And can you guess what they sell?
Well, well, well.