Monday, March 15, 2010

My take on Pink Floyd's EMI lawsuit.

I was reading an interesting take on the whole EMI/Pink Floyd digital sales battle and I couldn't help myself in writing a long winded comment to rebute what some of the other readers were saying. Basically, the general public, (ie. not you and me) have a hard time understanding why Pink Floyd wouldn't want their albums being chopped up and sold as individual singles. You can read what I wrote here. Or, if you don't wanna click on that link you can read what I wrote right here. Do I come off as a pretentious Prog fan. Most likely. Do I care how I come off? Naw. What do you think?

The problem is that it's really hard for artists to create anything other than formulaic fluff with 3-5 minute tracks. Those who chose to consume music in this manner tend to not really be interested in the full potential of music as a viable art form. They want a quick fix of familiar sound to influence their mood. Today's 'single' minded music listener uses these 99 cent downloads like drug addicts use shots in the arm.

Even if the album isn't held together by a 'concept', giving yourself up to an artist for 40-50 minutes at a time can create as much entertainment value (in terms of emotional and psychological stimulation) as a film or dramatic television show can provide. Bands like Pink Floyd create albums that have all the dramatic highs and lows that you experience when watching a movie, you just have to use your imagination to create the visuals. You simply can not do this in the course of 5 minutes. Making a playlist on your own doesn't count because you are not allowing each artist a chance to take you on a journey.

So while the world seems to be listening to music less and less seriously, real artists will follow Pink Floyd's lead and create extended-listening albums meant to be consumed as a whole and not to be chopped up into individual heroin hits that iTunes and the like provide. This model works surprisingly well in the digital age and is even being practiced by some young and innovative artists who's popularity has largely been created thanks to the internet. See Porcupine Tree for the best example of this.

I'm sure Pink Floyd is fighting this for the right artistic reasons and I wish them the best of luck in keeping their works of musical art together and whole. Listening to a popular 'single' like Another Brick in the Wall part 2 on its own reduces it from a poignant tale of a protagonist's trouble history in school to an annoying diversion with a meaningless children's choir and disco beat. You need the rest of The Wall to understand how that song fits in with a larger and much more powerful story.

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