Famous for five minutes

I’ve been thinking about longevity for some time now. I was finally inspired to write something about it after a tweet earlier today from the Guardian’s Jemima Kiss who commented: “It’s great that Spotify is doing well, but I’m not interested in hearing music I know. I want to find new music, and Last.fm radio rocks.”

I thought this was intriguing for a number of reasons. Yes Last.fm is a great service. I’m also a fan of Spotify though – particularly since they did a deal with Warp Recordsallowing limited access to some of its back catalogue. But what really grabbed my interest was the focus on the importance of newness in Jemima’s tweet.

I am as much a fan of “the new” as anyone else – as a reviewer for a variety of music mags means I am in the fortunate position of being given access to the new before most other people. However I am also interested in “the old”. So is it really wrong to be interested in “hearing music I know”?

There has been much written recently about social networking – especially Twitter – affecting attention spans, relationship building etc – the lifespan of a tweet is supposed to be five minutes after all (unless it is re-tweeted of course).

Not all of this discussion on social networking has been hugely useful. Baroness Greenfield for example made it on to the front page of the Daily Mail with some interesting claims which were then extremely well dealt with by Ben Goldacre on Newsnight.

Getting back to the musical example though, just how are new technologies affecting how we engage with traditional forms of culture? Are they simply feeding an obsession with the new to the extent that we are creating an entirely disposable culture that constantly strives for the new at the expense of the old? Will we forget that “new” piece of music five minutes after we’ve heard it – in the same way that we are supposed to forget a tweet?

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