When did I stop listening to music and start consuming it?

As many of you who are reading this will know, I am a big fan of mobile music technology. It gives you the ability to do so much on the move and take so much with you on the go too. I still have an iPod classic with my entire music library on it and that’s great to be able to take with me wherever I go.

But there is a downside though. Often I find myself flicking through my music library in the same way as you might flick through TV channels. There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing it all, but it does change the way we listen to music, and in my opinion, it moves along the line from listening to consuming.

Of course, there are now a vast array of services to help us do just that, from iTunes, to Spotify and lots more, and whilst lots of these services are great for discovering new music they do push us along this line from listening to consuming.

This was brought home to me a little while ago when a friend asked me over to play some of my vinyl. I hadn’t just sat and listened to an album for a long time. Sure, I’d had an album on while I was out, or while I was working or generally doing something else, but not just sat and listened to the music. I found the experience liberating.

It made me realise that I do consume music most of the time and I don’t really actively listen a great deal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to have a soundtrack to my day whether I’m working, driving, walking through town etc. But the experience of just sitting still and absorbing music as an active participant rather than as a passive consumer is one that I rarely take part in.

As a result I started to think about ways of adjusting the balance back from consumption to listening. It made me think of book clubs. where people read and discuss a book at great length. It made me wonder if such a thing existed for music.

I think it would be wonderful to go to a sound club, or a music club where the point was to listen to a piece or an album once a month then get together and discuss it in great detail.

I’ve no idea if such a thing exists, but I hope it does.

6 Responses to When did I stop listening to music and start consuming it?

  • TF81 says:

    I agree with you. I used to actively listen to music more often. I think this was when I was young and carefree. These days life (and children in my case) often get in the way! Perhaps you could organise a live, realtime album listening session. Pick an album, everyone hits play at the same time, then people contribute to a live blog post (or Twitter hashtag) and discuss the music. My vote for the first album is Pacific Ocean Blue, by Dennis Wilson.

  • Adrian A says:

    The car is where I get a chance to LISTEN to music. Its an old beater with just a crummy CD player in it. No MP3 players, no line in, just the CD format.

    Every place else, I get board with some of the “deeper” cuts of a given album so I end up skipping around between songs and/or podcasts.

  • You are absolutely right. Few days ago I was thinking about when was the
    last time I listened to some music using real speakers – instead
    earphones – and really appreciating the songs, the arrangement, the
    lyrics and it so on. The saddest part is: I do have good speakers and a
    nice sound equipment but now – unfortunately – I can spend weeks away of them…

    I don’t know about there, but here, in the past people usually kept
    stereos in the living room and they were important like a TV for example
    and was common spend some time just listening to music, doing nothing.
    But today is very different. Most of people are living in buildings
    instead houses, there are many neighbors, computers, and the old “doing
    nothing” today means “doing nothing in multi-task mode” :)

    The idea about sound club sounds great but I’ve never heard something like that over here in Brazil. Very nice text!

  • Debra says:

    When I create playlists, I choose my favourites. But I sat in the car today and had to listen to a whole album as my daughter had chosen it. There was a lot of tracks I’d forgotten and was glad to be reacquainted with. Maybe this is a bit of the ‘listening instead of consuming’ you were talking about? I like the comment about having the hi-fi in the living room – we’ve just moved ours back into the living room. Haven’t used it yet though!

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