Student discusses benefits of physical art and music in the age of instant streaming

Andrea Hammack

Staff Writer

While most people can agree that art and music can be timeless, an important conversation for music and art lovers centers around what form is the best for consuming them. 

Nowadays music is mainly consumed digitally through apps such as Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc., which allows the content to remain popular, immediate, and at the consumers’ fingertips. 

For some, this accessibility to multitudes of music is important – but to others, it’s more about the search for lost treasures. 

Vinyl was one of the first major ways to have music at home, eventually evolving into 8-tracks, tapes, and CDs. 

While these forms of listening to music seemed to be dying out for a while, there’s a special place in the modern age for vintage finds. 

For example, vinyl sales continue to grow each year, and in 2019 vinyl even outsold CDs for the first time since 1986, according to Rolling Stone Magazine. 

Gabby Powell, a junior social work major from Irvington, Alabama, said that looking through music is relaxing for her. 

“On one hand, digital music is easier to get a hold of, but on the other, something about flipping through CDs or records is calming,” Powell said. “When you’re searching for the right album or whatever, it’s more exciting when you find it, versus just typing in a song and getting it right away. 

“It’s convenient, but doesn’t provoke any emotions.”

If you are someone who is passionate about music or art, buying a physical piece can seem like you’re holding a bit of history. 

There’s a certain generational connection with music, as well – records are usually something that can be handed down from one generation to the next. 

This spread of music from one generation to another could be far less meaningful if done digitally rather than physically. When you have something such as music that plays a vital part in this connection with each other, it becomes a part of your life and a part of who you are. 

Outside of music, art is also something that could be better enjoyed physically. 

Sure, seeing something on your phone that inspires you and helps the artist get their work out there is great, but you should also support the artist by buying something that you can physically hold and show off. 

Having the art for yourself not only helps the artist, but it also allows the buyer to express themselves and their experience.

“With something like art, you can hang it up and decorate your place with it, if it’s physical,” Powell said. 

There’s even a way for older records that no longer seem relevant to become the art. Say you find an old box of records from your grandpa that you don’t necessarily want to listen to but also don’t want to give away. Make them into something new!

You can frame old records or album covers to use for decorations. You can also paint old records that don’t work anymore, instead of throwing them out. 

This can add the perfect vintage, retro feel to any dorm room or apartment. 

“Hands-on art and music both can bring me more emotion than just seeing it on my phone,” Powell said. “Like yeah, these paintings can look cool on your phone, but to actually go out to a museum and see them? It gives me chills just thinking about it. 

“Same with being in music stores. Something about being in a store that sells albums and records and music in general just resonates more with me than using my Spotify account to look up music.”

In today’s society, a lot of people are conditioned to instant gratification, including how they take in art and music. But when you take a step back and really enjoy the process of finding a hidden treasure, it can be well worth the wait. 

The physicality of art and music is all a part of a unique human experience that is making a comeback. Will you be a part of it?

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