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Do digital music downloads devalue music?
25 Aug 2011

The Hook, of The Music Network, asked prominent musicians and industry professionals the question everyone is debating at the moment: Do digital music downloads devalue music in regards to cost and sound quality? Here are some of the responses…

Ross Wilson – Daddy Cool, Mondo Rock
I think the download era just devalues music. The form is not perfect; mp3s don’t sound that great and they’ve got to go to the next step where you get full wav files. That’s why CDs sound better, I don’t know how. With downloads from places like iTunes, they’ve gotten this far, because with cloud computing they can easily put the wav files on those and stream high quality music. People have huge hard drives on their computers so space isn’t an issue. It’s actually a bit of a rip off at the moment with people having to pay $1.69 when you can buy a download for 99c in America, yet our dollar is worth more. So we are being ripped off sound quality wise and money wise.

One could argue that technology contributes to devaluation of music by means of ‘oversaturation’, which diminishes demand, and in turn diminishes the value of and attachment to the music (that comes in huge numbers and un- limited supply). However, I hope that this tendency also acts as a system of quality control, as unpopular music becomes extremely hard to find. Note that I don’t mean to imply that music is completely worthless because many download it illegally, that’s simply a new tendency created by the inability of the industry to keep up with technology. I have faith that in the long run the system will regulate itself for the greater good of all. As for sound quality, it seems widely accepted that .wav files posses superior sound quality to mp3. However the latter are much easier to download and store. Those that place a greater emphasis on sound quality will endeavour to obtain the best version of the music they love.

Tim Finn
I think there’s a danger of that. I just wonder, of people who are downloading, are they having the same experience as I had when I used to buy an album? Is it as rich? Is it as appreciated? I don’t know. Sound-wise, the crunching and the compression, it’s awful. A good CD is still worth listening to. [Downloaders] aren’t going to get the full experience, but hopefully they’ll get some of it.

Jim Ward – Sparta
I don’t think it devalues music be- cause the value of music is what it does to your heart, or your soul or your spirit; so I don’t think sound quality has anything to do with that really. I think back to AM radio and kids in the ‘50s turning on AM radio and just dancing and being free, it was sparking some sort of freedom that they had in their blood waiting to get out. They didn’t buy those singles, that shit was free and it didn’t sound good, it sounded like shit – it’s AM radio (laughs). None of that bothers me at all.

 So, what do you think?

 You can read the article here

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