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The Deal on Downloading: Part 1
Written by Racer

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When I was a kid, finding inspiration in music was a hard endeavor. We were at the mercy of the AM or FM DJs to discover new sounds. Digging through the past to learn of the old greats and gain inspiration from them was usually a haphazard affair; hearing of a band from a friend's older brother, or losing yourself in the bins of record stores.

There's no doubt that some of the music we loved was really the result of being the only music we could hear. Would we have really been into bands like Boston if they hadn't dominated AM radio? Would we have spent our time with Van Hagar if the underground had a ready access to our listening ears? Questions that will never be answered.

But today is a totally different world. Internet and mobile phones became an integral part of our daily lives and with it, another revolution in how we listen to music. I'm not talking about format, vinyl vs. CD vs. digital, that's an old argument. I'm talking the massive availability of any music you could ever choose to hear, from any country, at any time, simply at the touch of your fingers.

No longer are listeners captives of radio programmers pushing their corporate agendas or the random findings in an older brother's record collection. The underground is available to any one. Long obscure bands from the past are as easy to find as Top 40 best-sellers. You'd have to think that this ready access to music would have a huge impact on young bands, finding new sounds and inspiration.

Zach Huskey, the main madman of Dali's Llama describes it like this. "When I was a kid, I used to hang out at the local record store, where a cool guy named Phil turned me on to all sorts of wild music. I learned to play guitar by figuring out the licks from the records. Now, if I want to learn a guitar riff from the '70's, I can find the guitar tab in an instant. If I hear that a certain band from Arizona is really good, I can check out their music on MySpace. If I like a band, I can email them, book a show and have our bands play a club together."

Welcome to the 21st century. It's all right there, instantaneous. The question is: How will this instant access to a world of music inspire future generations in their search to create a sound of their own. Will the lost bands of the past resurface as a new and unexpected inspiration for tomorrow's garage band? Will the underground and the Top 40 merge to point of being indistinguishable? Woody, the main bong-toker from scuzz-punk stoners Mighty High, sums up the effects of the internet on his writing like this; "Over the past few years I've discovered a lot of great bands from the past that I had heard of, but never actually hea rd the music. The first album by Lucifer's Friend is a good example.

I'd seen expensive copies of the LP for years in collectors shops but never heard the band until someone posted some songs on YouTube. Same with Buffalo and other proto-metal bands. A friend of mine found an illegal download of the Deep Purple album "Come Taste the Band" earlier this year. I'm a huge DP fan but never bothered with this album. It turns out to be a great album and I've been stealing riffs from it ever since."

Michael Daboll-Maracas, guitarist for retro-garage rockers The Omen sees things the same way. "It's definitely expanded my horizons. It's cool to be able to check out a body of music that's broader than typically available at the local record store or that's played on the airwaves of the local radio station. I've been able to check stuff out that I'd might not ran across or been clued into, plus I no longer have to listen to a crap local radio station. Instead, I can listen to my favorite college station in another part of the country or check out a podcast of a very specific type of music I feel like listening to."

Barry Donegan of Look What I Did agrees, taking advantage of the new technology to find inspiration. "I've discovered a lot of great bands by immediately researching other bands I like, the bands who inspired them, shared tours, etc. A lot of music I otherwise wouldn't have been abl e to afford to buy. That definitely expands your palate quite a bit."

Joshua Macero, guitar/vocalist for The Thomas Function take this ready-made universe of available music one step further, finding reams of inspiration at the tips of their fingers. "Honestly, the ability to download old bubblegum comps with the Mark Chapman demos, the Back From the Grave comps, 50's doo-***, all the revisionist ideas of yesterday, just sort of keeps me going. Flying Nun, Bomp, the first Feelies albums. I've been and will continue aping it for years."

The blog doesn't stop there. But you'll just have to wait until tomorrow to catch the second half of Racer's deal on downloading. Or catch more of his music reviews (and downloads) on The Ripple Effect. Todd (Racer) is one of four former radio disc jockeys, rock and roll front men, musicians, and writers who love music and want to share it with the world.
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