We're Living In A Golden Age Of Media Consumption

Hi all,

Today's post is full of musings on the bliss we experience with music, movies, tv and games. Take a seat and pack a lunch, this could be a long one.

People often refer to the "good old days" before technology became embedded into our culture - a time when people had to physically meet up or make a phone call to be able to speak. A time when everyone's shopping was done in brick and mortar stores and the word "Amazon" was synonymous with a bunch of trees in South America.

While its easy to miss the simplicity and quaintness of having to go to the shops to rent a VHS tape (and I have fond memories of Friday nights at Blockbuster), in the last decade we've become so dependent on the convenience of online services. What you may not realise, however, is that this hasn't come at the cost of quality.

Take movies for example - When a movie hits cinemas, you're looking at £20 for two tickets (i'm still physically unable to go on my own - for me half of the experience is the discussion after a film). Within months these days, that movie will be thrown into a rental service through your TV box (for less than £10) or better yet included with one of the numerous streaming services available along with hundreds of others for around £5 a month.

The subscription model that Netflix revolutionised began with mail-order DVDs before becoming an online service. Spotify and Apple Music dominate the music streaming market - for a tenner a month a huge music fan such as myself has access to seemingly everything. I'm into pop punk, hardcore and other genres that aren't mainstream but never have any issues finding new music to listen to. On a similar note, Podcasts (internet radio shows) are freely available and from the independent ones up to the big media outlets, I can almost always find something that caters to my nerdy interests and they always feature great production values.

Even video games are beginning to get in on the act, albeit later than I would have anticipated. While Xbox Live and Playstation Plus sweeten their respective monthly fee for online play with a smattering of titles, Xbox Game Pass is a £7.99 monthly service that rotates new games in and out on a monthly basis with the added bonus of discounts, while EA Access is £20 per annum and features its own set of titles, discounts and opportunities for early access.

So yeah, streaming is here to stay - but what of it?

When people look back on influential TV shows of yesteryear, often times you'll hear Twin Peaks, Lost (for better or worse) and The Sopranos feature. Now? Heres a short list of big TV shows that have hit in the last few years:

Game of Thrones
The Walking Dead
Breaking Bad
Grey's Anatomy
Orange Is The New Black
Stranger Things
Mad Men
American Horror Story
Downton Abbey

Quite the list, isn't it? In terms of TV shows, I think we're living in a golden age. More impressively is that almost all of that list are available at my fingertips provided I have the correct subscription service.

With Netflix branching out into the production of movies (David Ayer's "Bright" (starring none other than Hollywood megastar Will Smith looks fantastic), could we see the death of the traditional cinema experience? Given the social importance of the cinema I think thats unlikely - but expensive tickets and snacks aren't doing it any favours. Odeon's "Unlimited" card is their own attempt at a subscription model but the lack of movie releases outside of the Summer blockbuster season puts me off. On the other hand, I find it hard to not find new items added to Amazon Prime or Netflix.

I haven't bought a music CD in years, but thats more due to the appeal of buying it digitally. Nowadays, however, I can "pre-order" an album as part of my monthly Apple Music subscription, usually getting a few tracks early as a result. As soon as the album is released, all of the tracks automatically sync to my phone, computers and tablet for listening. Its all so easy, and i'd take that over the "good" old days of buying a CD, ripping it to my iPod and then invariably losing the disc in the car or somewhere else.

In terms of video games, Steam seemed a crazy idea at first. I remember buying Football Manager 2006 and the disc acting as a key - I had to download the game through Steam otherwise I couldn't play it. I wasn't happy at the time (my parents' house has always had appalling broadband speeds) but nowadays I can't imagine going out to buy a PC game. Football Manager 2018 is a game i'll likely pre-order and forget about until I switch the PC on and its installed, just like the release of Destiny 2 this week. In the "good" old days, that would've required queuing at the shop and hoping they hadn't sold out by the time I got to the counter. I remember queuing out of the shop for Modern Warfare 2 in 2009 into Sainsbury's car park at 6 in the morning. Yes, I'm still a nerd but at least now i'm not chilly.

So to sum up - as fun as Blockbuster trips on Friday nights used to be - why not stay in? Plenty of movies to pick from, takeaway orders at your fingertips and it's still cheaper than going to the cinema and having to squeeze your 6 ft 4 frame into one of their seats... no? Just me then.

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