Musician Kelsey Conroy talks about music technology and its effect on song leaking

From The Smiths to The 1975. Not only has the music people listen to changed but also how we listen to it. Music technology may be a whirlwind for the old folks but the younger generation have embraced it in their stride! Cherelle Cawthorn reports.

You are in the 1980s. Music blaring, quirky dance moves all around you and clothes to match. Everything is going great, there’s just one problem. The song starts to skip, ruining everyone’s groove. Just what you need as you’re letting loose on a Friday night, right?

Thank God for new music technology! I certainly cannot imagine teenagers of today dealing with such an erratic club scene. Nonetheless, in the 80s this is all that was known. If the records played in the club started to scratch or malfunctioned in any kind of way there was not a lot that could be done; this was worlds away from iPods, mp3s and DJ systems. ‘MP3s ain’t never going to be scratched up, nicked, bent out of shape or covered in blim burns by the end of the night.’ (Magnetic, 2014)

Teenagers also now rely heavily on the internet for music, with YouTube and Spotify being the main sources. It is much easier to listen to music now than it was 30 years ago. Back then two of the main sources of music were record players and the radio.

My Dad, Nicholas Cawthorn, 46, looked back to his days as an 80s kid, telling me: “Having one record player in the house was pretty hectic to say the least. When I finally did get a chance to listen to music chances were it would scratch and jump to the point where I would think is this really worth it? I’ll just go and listen to the radio.” Despite having their problems, record players are still seen as ‘retro’ and ‘cool’ by the younger generation. Dad added: “Music in my day definitely had more meaning. Music is so accessible now that young people almost take it for granted. I mean, we didn’t even have a cassette player in the car. The things I would have done for a ‘jam sesh’ to Madness every school morning.”

The younger generation are definitely luckier with the music technology they have now, in terms of it being extremely accessible and portable. They can search virtually any song and listen to it which would have seemed crazy in my parents’ generation. Nevertheless, there are still some young people who would have loved to be a part of the 80s music scene. Upcoming musician Kelsey Conroy, 19, said: “I absolutely love 80s music and if I could have a record player, I would. 80s music has definitely inspired the music I write and play.  I also think the club scene would have been amazing it’s a shame I can’t go back in time!

There would have been a deeper sense of excitement to get your hands on a new album because it wouldn’t be leaked so you would respect the music and artist a lot more. Now, if you want to listen to a new song, you just have to type in to Google.”

Music technology has made young people’s music taste more diverse. Kelsey added: “Without the rise of technology there would have been a slower development of music and it wouldn’t have spread as easily.”

Jade Carr, 20, also still a massive fan of 80s music, said: “I prefer my record player because it just has a more authentic sound and makes music more enjoyable to listen to. I think music back then had much more meaning, for example I listen to The Smiths who are a lot better than most modern artists today. If I had to choose between my record player and Spotify it would have to be Spotify purely because it is portable and you can search any song you choose. Plus, records are expensive!”

Technology has its drawbacks in relation to leaking and the value of music.  Artists and record labels fear that if an album is leaked it receives a drop in sales. Music technology has made the younger generation expect and encourage leaks which will most likely continue into the future as technology becomes even more advanced.

The truth is new music technology has come on leaps and bounds since the 80s and this is reflected in the younger generation today and how they consume music. Many have had music handed to them on a plate so do not appreciate music like the average 80s teenager did, especially with having one music device in the house. Even so, many teenagers in the noughties would take extreme pleasure in owning a record player. You might think that technology has had a bad effect on the younger generation’s relationship to music, but maybe we should embrace that they are still very much in love with music and really, who can blame them?

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