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RSS icon Comments on Vinyl is Dead, Long Live Vinyl, Etc

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(1.) I feel horrible asking for hard copies (CDs) of review materials now. I got one completely smashed by the P.O. yesterday, and really like the publicists, so it's download time for me.

(2.) The iPod has become the tool for just about everything -- from deciding what albums to review to what bands to publicize, to just random leisurely listening, as I am usually running around town.

I did play my vinyl today for a few hours, but that's a minority of time spent listening to music every week. And you said it, when we have to finally move due to escalating rents ...

Posted by Chris Estey | September 16, 2008 6:11 PM
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Speaking of mp3s, Bleep.com just released the new Squarepusher for download a month early. So there's that argument.

Posted by Adrian | September 16, 2008 6:28 PM
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If I have a library of mp3s instead, does that make me less of a music fan?

Not necessarily. But it does mean that you're hearing music at a very lousy/lossy level of sound quality.

Posted by segal | September 16, 2008 7:25 PM
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@3,
Possibly, but I spend my time listening to music either at my desk,or on my iPod. Even if I had some audiophile setup, it's just not convenient for me if an album can only be appreciated in those pristine conditions.

Plus, MP3s at 320kbps are just fine, if a bit unwieldy to deal with on account of file size.

Posted by donte | September 16, 2008 8:07 PM
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I've always used "records" interchangeably with "recordings," so I refer to CDs and MP3s as "records" (which sometimes confuses people, understandably enough). So I don't think it has anything to do w/the physical stuff. It's about an interest in the form, not the format.

Posted by Matos | September 16, 2008 8:26 PM
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Depends where you get your records from. I have known plenty of poor people including myself who make the choice to buy the physical record. Today I do think twice about many record buying decisions because of family obligations and limited income.
In no way that will ever turn me around and never buy vinyl lp's. Never.

Posted by Biggie J | September 16, 2008 8:46 PM
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i'll stick to collecting noise cassettes.

Posted by something | September 16, 2008 9:31 PM
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My take: Vinyl is like a glass of top shelf Whiskey. Neat. No ice.

Mp3s are more like that 16 ouncer of PBR I stuff in my back pack as I race out the door to the park.

I love 'em both. But when I am chillin' at home I want that whiskey.

Posted by Jeff | September 16, 2008 9:37 PM
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There is a difference between fan and fanatic, and record collector nerds (which I still count myself among, I did a multiple vinyl trade with another collector about 45 minutes ago) definitely fall into the fanatic category. Music fans may listen to a lot of music, go to live shows, and can carry on a decent conversation about bands and genres. But music fanatics take it to a whole different level. They'll collect every single pressing on every color of vinyl of their favorite band's releases and can tell you more information about a band, their tours, past shows, and music than you ever realized was possible. Fanatics read music magazines, blogs and forums constantly, mailorder/weborder vinyl from tiny to large distros that you will never see in a record store every day, join limited edition record clubs (like Sub Pop's and Fat Wreck's), order directly from bands, and pour their heart, soul and paycheck into their collecting. It's more a matter of priorities than anything else, they'll eat Ramen for a week because they spent their money on that hand numbered, splatter vinyl edition of a Poison Idea record. Shit, I did this countless times. Generally, the fanatics, are the people that are vinyl collectors and traders, music writers and music editors. They live, breathe, eat, drink and shit music. I was one of these people for a long time and don't really regret it, I built one kick ass record collection, but it's also nice having a social life and not being so extreme about constantly being on the hunt for rare vinyl or the latest underground buzz.

Posted by dan10things | September 16, 2008 9:42 PM
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vinyl will never die.

why?

The U.S. Gubbament uses it to record congressional speeches and pretty much everything needing to be preserved. They are stored in saltmines down south in case of nuclear war. If war occured the blasts would eradicate all digital recordings and signals - say goodbye to computer disks, cds and your precious Hall n Oates cassette in your 1983 Pontiac LeMans

Posted by bobcat | September 16, 2008 9:52 PM
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I have a bunch of albums stored at my father's house out of state. I didn't have space to store them when I moved here and it looked like he'd be in his house forever, so it seemed like a reasonably safe storage space at the time. Fast forward five years. He's caught up in the mortgage crisis and is losing his home. That's rough, because it was my grandmother's home before he bought it. That house has been in my family since before I was born. Yet...it's my records I find I'm most concerned about, not the retention of the house (2nd to my father's overall well-being, natch). I think that speaks volumes about the importance of vinyl records in my life.

Posted by Dod | September 16, 2008 10:28 PM
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Vinyl sounds better. It ages, like a good wine, or a much-loved book. It has character. I will always prefer it over digital formats.

Posted by kerri harrop | September 16, 2008 11:07 PM
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I occasionally buy vinyl. CDs are still the medium I purchase the most. I tend to open the CD, rip it in iTunes and then never play it again. I've become obsessed with the geeky organizing and categorizing of my iTunes library and play counts with last.fm and the like. It's sick. If I play it on vinyl, no one will remember that I played it.

Posted by bob | September 17, 2008 5:23 AM
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I love Bobcat's comment. If that's true, I'm going out to Jive Time today and just tearing up the cheap racks for all the records I still want! I regularly pursue out of print or poor-on-CD-sounding vinyl gems but that just means I buy cheap stuff I like; I have stopped being a "collector." Man, I want to be an adaptable futurist like Eric and I do think of songs as "records" like Michaelangelo. But there was a reason when I had a block of hours to listen to music yesterday it was LPs on a turntable. The glass of whiskey, the old books, all great metaphors. And they actually underline the fact that with digital mastering, newer vinyl isn't nearly as good as old (analog-mastered) vinyl. I am not really an audiophile at all, but vinyl records themselves can be separated into those two camps (and few do it). Which also reinforces preferences for periods of music as well. not just by genre, time limit per side or format, etc. And while we know things will change when mp3s can be created to sound just as good as other formats without sucking up your computer's brain (though won't know how that will happen without a nice fat amp set-up) ... most people who listen to new music habitually live in the city anyways where their listening is private or on the go, so this might not be as important as people have guessed.

Posted by Chris Estey | September 17, 2008 5:33 AM
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i've never accidentally scratched an mp3 while severely intoxicated. then again, i've never accidentally deleted an entire row of vinyl while severely intoxicated either. so, it's a tie!

Posted by sourpuss | September 17, 2008 7:42 AM
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I would say that the amount of records that one has in their collection bears no relation to how 'serious' one takes their music. As far as my record collecting habits go, I will only actively seek a record if I really truly love the record as a whole, and I feel as though the tangibility and posterity that owning a record provides is something thats going to be worth the cost, monetary and otherwise. This usually means I buy a handful of records a year.

Other than that, most of my listening habits are exploratory in nature, meaning some are hits and most are misses, and the most important factor for me then becomes manageability, which is obviously far easier via a finely tuned iTunes library.

I think that an important distinction needs to be made between those who collect almost compulsively for the sake of collecting (that same compulsion that will drive people to collect, oh, i don't know, beanie babies, lets say) and those who actually are truly 'serious' about the music itself.

Posted by Erin Resso | September 17, 2008 9:56 AM
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i hate it when a nuclear war ruins my cd collection.

Posted by infrequent | September 17, 2008 10:15 AM
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I know a dealer who has four 'out' buildings full of 45s, prolly like 250K 45s, and he knows about them ALL, but he's been a dealer since the '60s and has seen, heard, bought and sold a LOT...his personal collection, whats not for sale, about 300 45s...most all teeners and rare rockabilly. NO LPs! Then I also know of a collector who has over a million 45s...SHE (!!!) has never sold a single record, but knows all her records and BUYS only what she likes (multiple copies evidently). Then there is my audiophile friend who buys new records and doesn't play them, keeps them sealed so they stay "Mint"...I think they all are fans and fanatics. I don't know of many MP3 collectors who boast of their collection. However, all of 'em are fans of the music found on the records they fanatically buy.


(BTW - long time record collectors/dealers, those that have "weight"...physically a lot of records, super rare records, and/or conduct extensive research regarding unknowns/lost groups regard anyone referencing/using MP3s as silly and are NOT regarded at all in terms what they're playing/listening to or their opinions regarding those artists. It's a generational and seniority thing that has a bit of spine to it as those collectors/dealers have often spent a LOT of time doing the leg work to find records and info about them...then the "kids" can just look the shit up on Wiki and download an MP3 are suddenly in the know they do so on the backs of those older collector/dealers that did the work)

That said, I feel really serious music fans go see music LIVE as the performance is the true expression of an artist, the artist has gotta be able to deliver live as they don't get do overs! Recordings are a RECORD of a single (in theory, not practice as we all know) performance. And a sellable product for a label...or a collectable THING (like trophy) for record nerds! HA!

For me listening/loving music and collecting serves different purposes. I have TONS of records I prolly don't NEED as I know them so very well (since I LOVE the music I've memorized the shit!) I don't need to hear it again, or say, there is only ONE song I want offa LP, but if I ever were to get RID of that record...well, what if I wanna listen to it in ten years, and then can't find it or know I sold it...I'm a RECORD nerd I'm not gonna go LOOK for an MP3, I'll be hella bummed I got rid of the record. But if I keep the record I know EXACTLY (generally) where to find it, so off the shelf and onto the deck and JAMZ AWAY...no need to turn on my computer! It's just SO awesome to know I HAVE it, if/when I need it. CDs and MP3s (I don't and won't have an iPod), for me, are only for easy use in listening as they're disposable (I burn my 45s to CD as big files, got a component burner, so I can listen to 'em w/o having to sit there and flip em!!). I feel like an sucker buying a new CD for $17. SERIOUSLY, what a fucking insult...and itunes 99cents a song for a cheap low rez version, um...no thanks.

Really tho', in terms of "product" it's an individual FAN'S choice, so get it on whatever format you like.


Posted by nipper | September 17, 2008 12:07 PM
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I like records. MP3s and CDs are fine, but I like records.

Posted by Eye Like Records | September 17, 2008 12:38 PM
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more on topic with the original post you made, Eric, you're not thinking about these things in enough of an apocalyptic mindset. you're focusing on relative economic fallout currently impeding you're music buying habits, and the logistics of having to cart around records vs MP3 files.

what you should be worried about is the long term outlook for our society (oil running out, energy to power extravagant things like computers getting more scarce). vinyl has existed as a medium for over a hundred years because it was viable before electricity was common place. if things get really bad, we can still etch music onto scrap plastic sheets and play records with crank powered record players. the knowledge is still there and remember: life is precious and God and the Bible.

Posted by Lee | September 17, 2008 2:20 PM
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Thank you, Lee.

Posted by Eric Grandy | September 17, 2008 2:39 PM
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I like them both for different reasons. I love collecting, listening, and playing records. However when I'm at work and in front of a computer, my ipod is my source of music for 8 hours.

That being said there's nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than hunting for great records. I feel like it's a lot more of a treasure quest than buying CD's or mp3's which I find to be a lot easier. When you want something on vinyl, it's not always the case that you can go to Easy Street or Everyday Music and pick up a copy. However with CD's, it's a lot easier, you most of the time can choose to buy a new or used copy. Same with mp3's especially when it comes to newer music, since itunes, beatport, etc. have many of the new releases even before they come out physically.

So I think it just depends. I think the most important thing is that a person is opening themselves up to hear as much music as possible regardless of what means. All in all, a great song is still a great song.

That also being said I'm a vinyl fanatic that spends most of my free time browsing through crates and crates of used records.

Posted by TJ | September 17, 2008 2:51 PM
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owning tons of records doesn't really indicate a music fan and vice versa. to me, owning / collecting records is a vice or an addiction more than a sign of one's adoration of music. i buy records i don't use (as a dj) and rarely listen to just to have them. for me, it rolled over from a sports card / comic book completist mentality that owning everything is good and having pockets missing from the complete series is bad. i would venture to say that a lot of record collectors come from the same place. if you own multiple copies of the same record and you aren't a hip-hop dj that is going to double up, then you have a completitionist problem. if you own variant copies of the same single because the b-side is different; dude, you have a problem. god knows i do.

Posted by cosby | September 17, 2008 3:14 PM
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as a rule of thumb, if there's more than 2 songs I can play off the album i'll bring it. Otherwise it's a comp CD.

for what its worth, it's not the nuclear war i'm worried about it is magnets - our true enemy. A good EMP (no, not that one but that's pretty horrific as well) placed could fuck up society as we know it (adjusts tin foil hat)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_pulse

A hacker I knew had a pair of good magnets installed in his place on each side of the doors. If the FBI showed up to cart his stuff away he could simply flip a switch and his media would all get erased the second it crossed the threshold - but that was another life.

Posted by bobcat | September 17, 2008 6:25 PM
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Well, no matter your listening format, the music won't sound like it did in the room it was mixed in, and probably sounds much worse in a fidelity sense. The argument, to me, should be: to what extent is fidelity responsible for our judgement (and more importantly, ENJOYMENT) of music? Surely your favorite classic rock album makes a better listen on an old, deteriorated cassette tape than, say, your least-favorite boy band would in some sort of imagined vinyl surround sound setup...

Also- is there a "green" argument to be made for digital formats? Surely hard drives are a more efficient storage medium for digital audio than the tons and tons of CDs pressed daily, most of which, like hard drives made today, will end up as landfill in the next 100 years...

Hopefully in the near future digital recording and playback formats (DSD anyone?) will advance to a point where this whole argument will be moot. Would people still cling to their vinyl crates if they could get the same music with holographic 3-D interactive artwork and audio fidelity that sounds like you're in the same room as the musicians?

In case you were wondering- I do own a sizable 7" collection and a modest amount of LPs, but I keep most of it out for sentimental reasons, or because you can't get the music on CD. or out of laziness. I also have a nice high-end reel-to-reel in my record studio, tho it's essentially a prop these days (tape is too expensive for poor musicians like me, and the possibilities with computers for audio recording/sound manipulation are endless).

Posted by Ben | September 17, 2008 6:46 PM
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I'm a part of that group Nipper was talking about that doesn't take people seriously if they're talking about their mp3 collection. Those people haven't done any work. They don't know where I've been, maaaaan.

I also like the fine whiskey/cheap beer metaphor. I do have plenty of music on my iTunes and it's nice for when I'm riding the bus or at work. But all those mp3s are just digital copies of stuff I have on vinyl, and when I'm at home, it's the vinyl I'm listening to.

Posted by bunnypuncher | September 17, 2008 7:39 PM
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I love The Nipper. Great points.

This is a strange time to bring up this conversation, as the other day I just sort of played with my collection of 7 inch records, hardly actually playing any of them. "Is this really about the music?" I thought, as I called someone up at their tech job to read them the lyrics they wrote and included in the sleeve of an emo flip EP they released back in '95, having a great laugh about what the song meant. Yes, I think it is, and the art of all of it too. Now I want to publish a zine where I call old friends and chat with them about the records of theirs I still have filling my apartment ... before I have to move and this all gets sold and thrown out, of course ....

Posted by Chris Estey | September 18, 2008 7:22 AM
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I gave up on vinyl a long while ago. After moving around a lot, living in small spaces, and not having much money it just became too inconvenient. I have a pretty vast mp3 collection and I love it for it's convenience and economy. I also really like being able to buy individual songs instead of whole albums at once. I'm not much of an audiophile and either can't hear or don't care much about the differences that others distinguish between analog and digital media.

Having said that though I will say that I've recently had a vinyl collecting Renaissance and I'm beginning to once again start collecting vinyl. Seeking out and collecting a musical artifact has it's own psychological rewards. In other words, it's a lot more fun. I don't plan on getting fanatical about it but I think I'll be buying more and more vinyl now. I just wish the price wasn't so damn high and it was easier to find the records I want.

Posted by Adam Griffin | September 19, 2008 3:16 PM

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