When I was a kid, scarcity was part of the music experience. We’d scour used record bins in the backs of stores for quirky or interesting albums. We’d jerry-rig antennas to pick up that one crazy little radio station playing Frank Zappa. We save up our money to buy that one album, then play it again and again and again.
But my kids’ experience with music is different. There is no scarcity. They have access to almost literally every kind of music, instantly. When my son first heard a Hawaiian guitar, he was intrigued and was able to instantly access the entire genre of music. When my daughter posts her videos online, she samples music from across the decades, with no bias.
I am sometimes a little sad that they can’t experience music like I did. But then again, they have things I could only dream about. Money doesn’t severely limit their access. Geography doesn’t severely limit their access. They can experience music as a nearly unlimited resource, and it is fascinating to watch that happen.
As photographers, we used to be able to only take a few exposures, then pray to the darkroom gods that they came out. We took extreme care with each frame — not because we wanted to, but because we had no choice. Whereas now, we can quickly take hundreds, thousands of shots, and the darkroom gods live in a little rectangle we carry in our pocket. It’s a different relationship to photography. But it is fascinating and wonderful to experience.