Is the World of Music Better Now or Better Then?

Jim Louvau
How does Miley stack against music eras of yore?

I'm closing in on a half century of existence -- an existence immersed in the world of entertainment -- and sometimes I just sit back and marvel at technology. My phone is a computer. I can fast forward commercials. I've got music and movies and everything in between right at my fingertips.

We've got it pretty good.

Notice I didn't say, "You damn kids don't know how lucky you've got it." I haven't hit that stage yet.

Of course, I may not go that way at all. I may end up being the old guy that says, "Things were a lot better in my day."

I'll try to decide logically. Right now. Starting with music. Join me for a quick review of what's better about music now and what was better back then (and what has stayed the same).

I have more or less embraced most of the changes that have evolved in my passion, my addiction, and my industry (all one and the same) over the years.

So I have no problem saying thing in the land of music are better now.

If they are.

I guess we'll see. Let's analyze 'em in threes.

Better Now: Tools for musicians.

Like every other area of entertainment and art, technology has made it easier to create. It doesn't necessarily mean better creations, it just means they're easier to create.

Better Then: Musicianship.

Because the tools are better, musicians don't have to work as hard. I read something in the Lefsetz Letter (the only industry blog I read) yesterday about some music biz honcho saying that "the 79th best band of the '70s is better than the best band of today." Like Bob noted, it's hard to argue with that. I won't.

The Same: Impact on the soul.

Music, new and old, still hits me with the same force as ever. I see it massively influence my sons and daughters as well. Thank God.

Better Now: Sound quality.

Yeah, I know, Freaky Vinyl Fan, nothing sounds as good as a record. Perhaps with an ultra-clean record on your eight zillion dollar system, but not in the real world. Thanks simply to durability, CDs have always been a lot cleaner sounding than the average listener's records (now or then), and while compressed digital music doesn't compete with either, it still blows away eight-track and cassette tape.

Better Then: Album length.

Back in those days, the constraints of the LP kept artists to eight to ten songs. In my book, which is an album advocate's book, that's all you need from any artist in any one sitting. CDs fucked that up. Labels charged more, so fans demanded more music, so the labels added the filler B-sides. Too long. Too much. Diluted results.

The Same: Glorious artwork.

I am an avid fan of the art of the album. I am floored by today's gig posters, as well as the classics of the bygone eras. There's more of it now, so I almost went with "better now", but you have to give it up to the pioneers in art department as well.

Continue to page two.

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