The curse of the MP3

One of the ironies of the world we now inhabit is that music is ever more pervasive and yet fewer and fewer people actually like it.  They use it as acoustic wallpaper or as an accompaniment to something else.

Simon Cowell and his ilk illustrate this very well.  His success came about partly because he understands that most people are not at all interested in music; indeed he has admitted that he doesn’t care much for it either.  It gives him a huge advantage over musicians and enthusiasts like me in that he can identify with the with the majority of the population and sell them something they’re happy to consume.  In his case this is the back story to the performance; the struggle to get on the show and to impress the judges.  All the better if there’s some sort of struggle against adversity in there as well.   The music itself is of no consequence, illustrated by how quickly most of his proteges disappear after the show is over.  It’s the musical equivalent of those awful soulless identikit shopping complexes springing up everywhere whose popularity makes me despair of my species.

MP3s are another side to this.  They made sense years ago when ipods and the like first appeared and storage space was at a premium.  Lower sound quality was a price worth paying for the amazing portability the technology brought.  Fast forward to today and storage space is cheap and compact and lossless compression is widely available.  I hoped that MP3s would disappear as the quality/space trade-off became less of a good deal, but the Simon Cowell effect dashed those hopes.  For people who really aren’t that interested in music, better sound quality just isn’t worth having, and since most people aren’t interested in music, the MP3 remains ubiquitous.

This is my little corner of the web, so there will be no MP3s or soulless music here.  Everything is in my favourite lossless format, flac, which is a free and open source.   That means you can convert the files to WAV and burn audio CDs if you like, but please don’t convert them to a lossy format.

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