What a week it has been and it’s only Thursday. I don’t know about you but I feel as though two parts of my teenage years have been banished to memory within the space of the same week.
First there was the news that Microsoft are doing away with its iconic and legendary instant messaging system, MSN Messenger. How many people reading this remember leaving school/ college/ uni/ work [delete as appropriate] for the day to a chorus of, “You gonna be on MSN later?” “Yeah, should be on for a bit.”
Well. You were never on ‘for a bit’. You were on from anytime between 7pm and 7:30pm and that’s where you would take root until gone 11 each and every night. You’d leave it up on your computer screen while you had dinner, the incessant ‘nudging’ sounds coming from people you were chatting with bored that they had not heard from you in three quarters of an hour and even then they were probably only saying ‘LOL’. Setting your status to ‘away from computer’ but you’d actually still be very much at your computer because you didn’t want your friends to think you didn’t have a life if you instantly replied. You could have hugely elaborate IDs (Twitter just doesn’t compete) and there was the status field when you could write equally long, crazy lines of whatever you were into at the time. Smileys and emoticons were huge, rarely did friends conduct conversations unaccompanied by them. MSN Messenger was simple, it was a pioneer, and it was utterly addictive.
But then the times they did a-change; slowly most of us abandoned the cuteness of MSN and we started pledging our allegiance to the mammoths who stomped their ways into our lives: step forward Facebook and Twitter. It would seem upon doing some online research though that there are those who are going to miss MSN and believe that the alternatives offered don’t compare. All you can do is judge for yourself when it goes offline in March.
RIP MSN Messenger, staple of my 20s. Off to that great ‘inactive’ status in the sky.
If you want to know more about MSN Messenger’s ending and what the future holds, then do click here.
And now to something slightly more sentimental and closer to my heart.
We learned this week the sad news that beloved entertainment retailer HMV has gone into administration. Sad news indeed but I am not going to wax lyrical on the politics. This is just a personal reflection.
I ‘discovered’ music in the autumn of 1995 when I first heard Pulp’s Disco 2000. I shan’t embarrass myself by confessing what I was listening to before that holy moment I heard it but suffice to say my life changed forever with that one record.
Weekends after that involved like a million other music-obsessed teenagers, catching a train and heading to my nearest chain and independent record shops (in my case they were in Brighton), whiling away many hours in them flicking through and purchasing that week’s vinyl and CD singles. I wasn’t picky on my format, often I would buy both. I would trawl each and every one. I was an avid collector (not to mention nerd). The preceding week would see me writing down which ones I wanted (educated by the NME, Melody Maker and Q magazine) and then obtaining them through my favourite outlets. I lived my life like this for several glorious years until downloading took the experience away and when EPs were banned from the official singles chart, I knew things were never going to be the same again.
But back to what I did enjoy about that period and that was frequenting music shops. Throughout the years I collected coloured vinyl and limited edition CDs by the many indie bands that I loved. The whole experience was exhilarating, going into one of these shops and coming out the latest Supergrass 7″ or the limited edition maxi-disc Catatonia single. You can imagine my bedroom was a haven for all these treasures and I loved them dearly. I still own every Pulp single on CD, bought the days they were released, and I shall not be parted with my Suede 12″ singles or Mansun (remember them?) signed EPs. This was back in the day when bands knew the importance of an A-side, a B-side and in the case of an EP, those extra special tracks fans’ loyalty was rewarded with. Nowadays… not so much.
With the changes we have witnessed in recent years in how we consume music and entertainment it’s inevitable that what has happened this week was going to happen. The debate and the politics surrounding it will long rage on about the effects on the economy, the high street and piracy.
But perhaps this means independent record shops will see a boost. According to a recent report, independent record shop Rough Trade has said that they are seeing improved sales while some independents in central London don’t actually want to see HMV go, because its flagship Oxford Street store attracts music lovers to the area which also houses a few indie record shops too. Brothers in arms indeed.
However you get the sounds you want, the feeling of browsing for hours in a shop that sold the music I loved run by like-minded staff will never be bettered. I’m so pleased I got to live that experience.