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Mp3 Downloads and the Power of Music Journalism

Sep 7, 2007
When I was a teenager in the 90s, I was an aspiring indie kid, which wasn't a small challenge in a small town in Essex, the heartland of techno and clubbing. Like every aspiring indie kid, I allowed the music press total control over my listening preferences, at the time this meant Primal Scream, Curve and the Teenage Fan Club were the idols of newspapers like the NME, the Melody Maker and VOX. I must admit I lost some interest somewhere around the time of CD singles, which certainly had something to do with my cynicism about commercial Britpop (but was also because CD singles were much more expensive).

It might seem obvious, but I think it is worth considering the potential for Mp3 downloads, if they mean people will find out for themselves what they want to listen to, by previewing and purchasing music tracks on an individual basis. Of course they are also much cheaper than buying CD or cassette singles, and offer great opportunities for newer artists to promote themselves. If you're after whole albums, stores such as Mbop Megastore and ITunes allow you to find and download both classics and the latest releases, often at discounted prices, in the convenience of your own home. But for some reason, it's taken me a while to latch on to Mp3 downloads maybe it's because until now I've felt something was missing.

When I was 13, part of the appeal of buying music was going in to a record shop, seeing what other people were buying, and being able to get hold of tacky merchandise such as band t-shirts and posters. I knew what I liked, but part of the fun of getting music (or books, films, or whatever) was talking to people about it, looking at stuff. That's why simply buying Mp3 downloads hasn't really appealed.

But some music stores are now making the most of people's interest in online communities, reading expert reviews, and having "wish lists" via social networking sites like MySpace. Online stores such as Napster allow people to share and comment on other people's playlists, while MySpace in the US is about to launch a partnership with a music shop that offers Mp3 downloads. In the UK, Mbop Megastore is making the most of links with the music industry to get expert reviews and extend its range of downloadable tracks, making it the choice for serious music fans.

While it may take a while for some people to catch on to Mp3 downloads, the social aspect of music, as well as the expert knowledge on offer, convinces me that these types of online music stores will be a success. Online music stores also offer huge benefits for people to find out what they like musically rather than following the consensus, and the earlier the better. While I think my musical obstinacy was a sign of resilience in a town full of clubbers, it could have been easier.
About the Author
Shaun Parker has been at the forefront of the Music Download industry since the offset.Read more about online music at http://www.mbopmegastore.com/
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