Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why the young downloads and the old cherishes vinyl

best of both worldsCurrently the talk about the death of physical album releases has become more prominent again, triggered by the announcement by HMV that they'll be closing 60 of their stores in the UK. That's a massive amount of stores and yes indeed, this may mean a lot of towns in the UK will lose their very last music store. This is a sad thing. A very sad thing. Are people really so ignorant to not care about owning the real deal anymore? I do admit to listen to most of my music on my walkman or on my laptop while spending my time online (this sounds so much sadder than it really is I suppose), my walkman is just convenient and my laptop, that's laziness for most part, I'm too lazy to go to my CD cabinet, pick out a CD, make that choice (torture) and change the CD when it's finished. I however cherish the album and when I don't feel like listening to random songs (like on the radio but then only songs you like), I listen to the album, be it on my walkman or on my laptop. Nothing beats the sound of the CD or LP but that's the price I'm paying for being a lazy bastard.

The world is at our fingertips, we slide through our mobile phones, play and share, it's all so easy and so fast. Do we even remember what we're listening to? Those who grew up with this technology, who know no better than to slip and slide through a screen only a few inches small, can you blame them? Why would you go to a store, buy some silver disc and then go home to rip it before being able to listen to it. It's too much hassle for today's younger generation and the older, well, why bother right?

It's not really surprising that in this age where album sales drop dramatically the demand for cassettes and vinyl grows every day. Those who don't want to conform to modern times yearn back to the good old times, before Napster (or, maybe not quite before Napster because before Lars Ulrich heard about Napster, it was like being a kid in a candy store) and what's older than the MP3, what's older than the CD? Exactly, vinyl and tapes. It even sounds old and genuine. We can hold it, gaze at the artwork, read the booklet. Back to the times where we actually went into the store, bought an album and hurried home to put the needle on it or press play and read the thank you notes in the booklet. It was one of the first things I always read, the thank you notes. I actually still do that and I'm really disappointed when it just says 'family and friends'. I want names! Even though I wouldn't know who these people are and how they relate to the artist, the thank you notes... you don't get that with an MP3!

Record stores aren't allowed to die, not in the streets and not online. Music is important. Music is something you want to be happy about. Did you know you don't even own the MP3s we download? We buy the right to listen to the MP3, but we do not own them. It's just a file. A CD, LP, a cassette, that's something you own. You can touch it, feel it, read it, and unlike an MP3 album, you can give away a CD as a present. Seriously, think about that and then try to put a ribbon on a MP3. You can't. I got a CD gift check for my birthday last month, I'm going to own myself some music this Saturday. But in the end, the only person who really owns their music is the artist him or herself and that's the way it should be.

While writing this I listened on my laptop to 2010's most amazing album 'American Gong' and 2008's masterpiece 'Real Emotional Trash'. Ripped from the actual CD, naturally.