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The Saturation Point - Elf M. Sternberg
The Saturation Point
Omaha apparently found some free dealie on the internet where she can download some tunes, and both of us were having trouble thinking of any music we wanted right now. At first I thought maybe the issue was that I was getting old, but that wasn't it. It's just that there's so little new an interesting music being made nowadays that I can't try and get hyped up about any of it. I think the adults in my my family have reached a certain saturation point: we've got a hard drive with over 18,000 songs on it, playing everything from The Gorillaz to Chinese classical music.

It occurred to me that one of the reasons why the RIAA hates iTunes, piracy, and Amazon is that the "long tail" destroys the financial foundation of the recording industry: new music. The industry is centered around finding new stuff and farming it out. The recording industry's raison d'etre dies on the vine with the Internet.

If you make music cheap enough, eventually everyone will have enough music to fill every second of their day, every day, for months on end. When you're in that state, you have no reason to buy more. You're saturated. When you're in that state, finding old music you've never heard before is just as pleasure as getting in on the "hot new thing," and in our atomized society individual taste matters more than sharing a discovery with the rest of the world, especially in art.

The MPAA is discovering this now with DVDs. The purpose of building up a DVD collection, unless you're obsessive, is to have something to watch when there's nothing on your 200-channel TiVo. Once you've gotten past the initial surge of collecting of your favorites you might buy a few here and there in drips and drabs, but it won't be like the initial spike. Home theaters are decimating movie houses, too.

I think the same thing is true of lots of media. Porn, for example. My tastes wobble back and forth but, if anything, they've gotten "lighter" in the past years, and I've been throwing out old hardcore vids because they're dying and, sadly, I have no desire to replace them.

Or maybe that really is just me getting older.

I wonder if this phenomena applies to books. I have my doubts; books tend to reflect a narrow slice of time in which they are written, and very few are really "timeless." Music, especially as background, has a greater chance at timelessness, and so is more susceptible to this saturation effect.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: Luo Shuo Cheng, Love Song for on Autumn Night

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