We have reached a new age in music, one that has been threatening to come for some time now. One in which CDs have become near-obsolete relics from a not-so-distant past and the very notion of musical ownership has become challenged. One in which any kid with an 8-track and an internet connection can become an overnight superstar without anything so antiquated as a record deal. One in which avid record collectors who have spent their lives viciously bartering over a bootleg Smiths LP or a scratched vinyl documenting that night when Dylan and Van Morrison jammed on each others’ songs, have seen their kids download a lifetime’s back catalogue in under an hour (given a healthy Ethernet connection.) One in which no note remains sacred, no recording unattainable, no live gig remains a unique moment in history. If Burns’ adage that, “heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter,” rings true, then the surfeit of songs that modern technology is providing us with must be the most saccharine in musical history. All this leaves us asking, is the music over?

The line between fans and thieves is becoming increasingly blurred, with sites like Limewire providing access to an unending treasure trove of music at virtually no financial cost. Perhaps you consider this an inevitable backlash against decades of music industry greed, raising prices of albums, setting inordinately high ticket prices and bleeding dry the artists that sign with them. Juxtaposed against the current financial climate, a parallel could certainly be drawn between these companies and the avaricious bankers, whose billions have been lost due to their gluttonous desire for personal gain in the credit crunch. Or perhaps the Luddite in you yearns for the old days of queuing round the corner on a Monday for the latest Stone Roses release, with the reassuring feeling that spending £13.99 on a plastic case with an artsy cover will form an indelible link between you and the artist and that the inevitable viruses that accompany such downloading are a deserved infection, like some charlatan catching chlamydia in Magaluf.

Whatever your own personal stance on the subject, the fact is that the new technology is now ubiquitous; 2008 saw Seasick Steve become the first hobo in history to play the Jools Holland show, (Shane McGowan notwithstanding); more and more would be flash-in-the pan acts are achieving sustained credibility and acclaim thanks to the buzz created by internet forums and MySpace pages and the fans. So what will 2009 have in store for us? Little Boots, this year’s hotly tipped pop sensation is a Blackpool born electro-songstress, who reached overnight success by singing Duran Duran covers on YouTube in her pyjamas and has been described as the antidote to modern guitar music. I suddenly find myself humming the Eels’ 'Cancer Tor The Cure'…

As Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character proclaimed in Almost Famous, “Rock‘n’Roll? It’s over. You got here just in time for the death rattle.” The plethora of free music that is now available at our fingertips is either the resurrection or the wake, depending on your point of view.