In the last week on eBay I bought a collection of around 15 New Musical Express magazines,published between 1990 and 1994. I bought them purely out of interest,but I think I underestimated the glaring differences in every aspect of the whole music industry that looking at them would throw up.
The whole format of them is completely different to today. It’s big and packed with words,a proper music newspaper,not just a glossy magazine with pretty pictures that you read in ten minutes. It would take a good while for even me (who is a fast reader) to get through that - something you properly invested your time in. One thing in particular that made me think this was the section at the back where you could order records from - huge page long lists of them were typed in microscopic print,alphabetically with codes to order them. Imagine how time-consuming it would be just to order a single CD or vinyl,one of the many versions they had - finding the numbers,ordering it by post,waiting for it…now we can just do it within seconds on the internet.
The whole thing is just so packed in - hundreds and hundreds of bands mentioned in a few pages,gig adverts shouting for your attention,huge full page adverts for singles released when I wasn’t even born. It was a bit strange to see a) bands I’ve never heard of but were obviously quite popular at the time and b) bands that now go down in music history but were still tiny and gaining support back then. It was like looking at photos of people you know and thinking what was coming next. I spent a lot of time thinking about that. It was odd.
It’s one thing liking the music,and a whole other the way it was made and presented. What really struck me was the tactile,active nature it seemed to encourage. It’s true that access to the internet and consequently anything that came before it has made music fans lives easier,but it’s also removed a whole part of the fun that comes with it,or so it seems to me. Of course I still love the whole music ’scene’ online,but it would be much more interesting and rewarding if you had to do a little more to get to something that,in my opinion,is priceless.