All Songs Intern Rips the Idea of Buying Records?

"Don't want to buy limited edition green vinyl on Record Store Day? You are just the worst kind of person..."

This week, one of the topics being avidly discussed on the blogosphere is a  post written on the All Songs Considered blog by NPR intern Emily White (read here).  There have been a number of passionate replies to her suggestion that those in her age group simply are not buying music: they’re too accustomed to “appropriating” it. David Lowery (of the band Camper Van Beethoven) provided an in depth and thoughtful response (a must read at the Trichordist here).  One can also read Ben Sisario’s article for the NY Times here and Jonathan Coulton’s blog post here.

All caught up? Good.

I won’t go through all of the merits and moral quandaries associated with file-sharing and streaming services. Full disclosure: I use NML regularly in my work (we subscribe at Westminster Choir College) and also have a paid Spotify subscription. While I’m a big proponent of physical media, and also feel that streaming services must work to do a better job to compensate artists, I am pleased that these technological options are available, as they are invaluable references for scholars and music lovers.

Thus, I’m certainly not interested in piling on or, goodness forbid, admonishing Emily White. In some ways, I feel sorry for her: a DJ and station manager who doesn’t have a record collection strikes me as someone who’s missed out on a very fun part of that gig. Instead, let’s zero in on those records. In the various posts on the subject of apathetic interns there is an almost unmentioned other segment of the populace that should be introduced into this conversation about purchasing music: young people who, you know, purchase music.

I support lots of artists by buying their music, often in physical, sometimes esoteric, formats. I feel about LPs the way that former Senator Phil Gramm feels about firearms, about which he famously said, “I have more of ‘em than I need and less of ‘em than I want.”

But I’m not the only one with this penchant for owning a physical artifact instead of ripping a friend’s CD. Why is it whenever I go to a record store I’m surrounded by people, many approximately Emily White’s age, who are digging through the bins and buying vinyl? New vinyl – nice 180 gram pressings of current albums. That’s a lot of latte money!

Maybe, in the midst of all of the doom and gloom about the decline of CDs as a distribution model, we are overgeneralizing by taking the casual listener as the barometer for future music sales. The casual listener has long “stolen” or, at the very least, freely acquired, music: well before the advent of file sharing and mp3s. Mix tapes, listening to the radio in a restaurant that doesn’t pay royalties, borrowing music from libraries, friends, etc.

Yes, the arguments regarding “fair use” settled some of these issues, but it took lengthy court battles to do so. At the time, most teens remained blithely oblivious of the issues at hand, continuing to dupe their friends’ copies of whatever they couldn’t afford that week at Sam Goody. What’s sad is that Emily seems to fall into this group of casual consumers: one might hope that NPR would attract folks who get the point of supporting those who entertain, educate, and even move them.

Physical product continues to be viable in the digital age, even if it proves to be a more modest stream of revenue than it was for artists during the boom years of the CD era. The physical product that seems to be on the rise at the moment is the LP, with good reason: it’s a very fine artifact. The bigger format helps – you can actually read the liner notes and the artwork can better be appreciated. Many audiophiles (myself included) love ‘em.

That said, the industry should continue to explore other modes of distribution, new platforms that will help to keep them in business and recoup at least some of artists’ lost royalties. In no way am I suggesting that streaming media isn’t going to be the prevailing method of experiencing recorded music in the future. From an archival standpoint and one of accessibility, this is an exciting thing indeed. However, I can’t help but think that the lack of engagement with a record collection, except in the digital domain, divests the listening experience of some of its vitality.

Readers: what do you think? The comments section is open for civil discourse.

Jherek Bischoff: RSD 7″

Happy Record Story Day!

Like 170 or so other recording artists, Jherek Bischoff is in the mood for Record Store Day’s fifth anniversary celebration. Brassland is releasing a limited 7″ vinyl single featuring collaborations between Bischof and David Byrne, Zac Pennington, and Soko.

Experimedia’s April 18 Playlist

The folks at Experimedia, one of our favorite mail order record sellers, share so many cool teaser tracks via Soundcloud

Speaking of record sellers, don’t forget your brick and mortar vendors this Saturday – Record Store Day. Lots of in store performances, signings, swag, and limited edition releases!

RCRDLBL shares playlists for Thanksgiving

If you’re looking forward to Thanksgiving today, the folks at RCRDLBL have put together a suitable accompaniment to the festivities: a “Good Thanksgiving” listening list.

If, for whatever reason, your holiday seems more filled with dysfunction than normal, don’t worry – they’ve got your back there too.

Here’s an embed of the “Bad Thanksgiving” playlist.

What would we do without the folks at RCRDLBL, who seemingly anticipate our every musical mood? (sniff) It makes me thankful they’re around!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate. Everyone else, have a grand Thursday.

By the way, for those of you braving the stores tomorrow, independent record sellers are holding Black Friday Record Store Day events, with special releases and other fun, to commemorate conspicuous consumption, record hound style.

Heavenly States: Rejuvenating the EP

Heavenly States
Oui Camera Oui
Hippies are Dead

“We started thinking about the death of the record,” says Heavenly States’ singer/guitarist Ted Nesseth. “People are broke, their attention spans are waning. We have all these ideas so we thought, let’s just rock out five or six songs, give the EP a rebirth.”

This past Saturday, one could witness throngs of people on line at record sellers throughout the US, clutching piles of treasure: records. They were celebrating National Record Story Day by conspicuously consuming vinyl discs, flouting the conventions of latter day digital distribution in favor of physical artifacts. Many of these record buffs engaged in a scavenger hunt of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory proportions, going from store to store to seek out RSD special releases, many of them limited edition 7″ or 10″ EPs.

But collecting is only a part of RSD’s charm; its also about the coalescing of a community around shared love of music. Thus, customers at the shops engaged in banter about their favorite bands, assessed the quality of used vinyl by eye on the fly, and gave pointers to rookies looking to start a music collection based on quality, not hipster street cred.

As the musicians of Heavenly States point out, the EP may be an ideal format for these times, one that works against the grain of digital distro’s single track mentality, but also avoids the loquacity of overstuffed CDs of the 90s era. Instead, the audio equivalent of a novella: the EP. And despite its relative pith, Oui Camera Oui includes plenty of variety. It even shares a bit of humor at its own expense, in the shape of a comedy routine by Eugene Mirman that riffs and expounds on quotes from the bad reviews of the band’s previous work.

But the release’s primary focus is rocking out, which Heavenly States does handily; check out a download of “Model Son” below for confirmation. Here’s hoping there are more EP novellas in the offing from Heavenly States; it’s a format that suits both them and the vinyl-rapprochement of the times in which we live.
MP3: Heavenly States Model Son

Merge releases limited edition 7″s for Record Store Day

Another set of releases we’ll be scouting in our jaunts to Vintage Vinyl, , Princeton Record Exchange, , and other venues in the Garden State on Record Store Day are these limited edition 7″s from our friends at Merge Records.

Sure, there’s a convenience factor with the digital music revolution that’s appealing. But vinyl rules: don’t let anyone tell you any different!



Let's Wrestle

Happy Record Store Day!

Record Store Day is upon us! That’s right, today (Saturday, April 17) record sellers throughout the country celebrate the continued vitality of the independent record store. A number of in store performances, limited releases, and freebies are on offer!

Go to the RSD site here to find a record store near you that’s taking part of the celebration.

Our friends at Sub Pop have created a Record Store Day mix (below) to get you in the mood to go out hunting for limited 7″ vinyl and live CDs.

2010 Sub Pop / Record Store Day Mix by subpop

Record Store Day is Here!

kay and head in newark 005.JPG Record Store Day is upon us. My fiancé and I have plotted our route, and plan to visit New Jersey record stores in Princeton, Bordentown and Fords tomorrow in a self-made scavenger hunt for special releases and limited edition 7″ vinyl.
One I’ll definitely be seeking out is the exclusive EP by Magnolia Electric Company.
I’ve included the press release below, as well as info about two more in store performances by Drag City artists.
Whether you celebrate by attending an event or just listening to your favorite LP at home, I hope you take a moment to enjoy some music today.

Secretly Canadian
MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO. Preps Exclusive Record Store Day 7″,
Tours The West Coast With The Avett Brothers

Quite often, times of dormancy only seem so to those of us on the outside. The wheels never really stop turning. Such is the case for MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC Co., which has a string of items lined up over the next months, including its first official release since 2007′s Sojourner box set.
First for the band is an exclusive 7″ titled  It’s Made Me Cry,  which will be available first on April 18 as part of Record Store Day, an international event celebrating independently-owned record stores. Side A of the 7″ features songs recorded over a weekend in October 2008 at Bloomington’s Russian Recording. The songs serve as a lesson in the power of brevity – each a flaming arrow to the heart of some heavy emotions. Side B of  It’s Made Me Cry  is the moody, instrumental “Protection Spell,” recorded at Russian Recordings almost exactly a year prior to the other songs and featuring late bassist Evan Farrell.
The band’s proceeds from the 7″ will benefit The Evan Farrell Memorial Fund.
A list of businesses participating in Record Store Day can be found  here.
It’s Made Me Cry  will also be available digitally worldwide on May 19.
Drag City
-AZITA will be playing at Laurie’s Planet of Sound in Chicago at noon.
-Bill Callahan is playing at Other Music in NYC at 9 pm
(BTW, Other Music has great events going all day long – check out their website)