you can’t hold the internet

Despite the fact that I can go on hour long diatribes on how technology has changed music for the worse, the fact is I love the fact that thanks to Napster and iTunes, the democratization of music has lead to me discovering more bands in the past 10 years than I would have been able to otherwise. There is no mainstream/underground anymore.  As such, finding those obscure bands is remarkably easy.  Despite my cynical skepticism, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But, with the advent of mp3s, I don’t buy CDs or vinyl anymore.  In fact, for any album or song that I bought after 1999, I do not have the CD or vinyl.  Ok, that’s not true.  I have a few vinyls, namely Rilo Kiley, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Radiohead, Postal Service, and Bon Iver.  But I haven’t bought a CD in years.

This bothers me.

I miss the collector aspect of finding music.  I miss the hunt.  And most of all, given my propensities towards collection, I miss having something tangible in my hands.  I miss that feeling of struggling with the stupid plastic wrap on a CD, peeling off the secondary security sticker on top, and pouring through liner notes.  I have to think that a lot of artists are pissed about this as well.  I could go on forever about my disdain of the new “singles” culture of music production, but the bottom line is that artists used to put a lot of effort and care into the production of their albums.  Liner notes mattered.  I can’t tell you how many little nuggets I’ve gleaned about artists from reading their thank yous.  Even little facts, such as their label, song sequencing, album artwork, are all dismissed these days.

So, I am embarking on a project wherein I am going to attempt to identify those albums that I actually want to own on CD or vinyl.  If I was still at my job I would just make this list haphazardly, spend an evening putting each album in to my Amazon shopping cart, and it would be done.  But that’s not an option anymore.  So I’m going to put together a list and slowly work through it as my resources allow.  I think this will be fun.

I apply the same methodology to my Kindle books.  I buy most of my books on Kindle these days.  But if I find the book particularly interesting so that I want it on my bookshelf then I will buy the physical book.  But quick reads that I found interesting but don’t think I’ll revisit or want to lend to friends I ignore.

So that’s the metric I’ll apply to music.  Albums that I love, that I would be sad if I didn’t have, and that I might want to lend to friends.

To that end, I’d like to enlist your help.  What are some albums that you’d want to own in physical form?  I suppose this isn’t all that different from a “Desert Island” list.  But I do think it’s an interesting question to ask.  We are so inundated with music these days that it can become difficult to differentiate between what is necessary and what is just…nice.

I mean, I’m pretty sure I’d want The Replacements “Let It Be” on a desert island.  Can’t say the same about Coldplay, despite the fact that my iTunes tells me that I listen to far more Coldplay than ‘Mats.

Thoughts?  I’ll post up a list soon.

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2 responses to “you can’t hold the internet

  1. I actually pre-ordered the new Coheed and Cambria album, which comes with a 350 page book which outlines the beginning of the story (concept band nerdiness! … no idea how this band got that big) and a card for getting online deals and exclusive stuff, and a bonus “making of” DVD. I’m super pumped. I’ve also bought a few shirts online now that I have a credit card, it’s both the “tangible” thing, about the same price, and it promotes the band more than a CD on my shelf.

    From a marketing point of view, I really think bands need to take EXACTLY what you’re talking about and do it up 10 fold. Who doesn’t love quirky liner notes? No one (with half a brain). What you need to do is put in that bonus DVD of how you made the album, stuff from on the road, something that gives fans bonus stuff… and take the social networking and go wild. I think new and less “successful” bands really need to learn. It makes fans “want” stuff, it makes then really connect beyond the music and want to own something from them (though they have to love the music, too, of course). I’ve kind of done this with one of my favourite, local metal bands, who are still independent, and kinda way proud of it. So the morale of this story is musicians = prostitutes… = success!

  2. I agree up to a point. I think bands should put more intention behind their product. From album artwork all the way down to the song construction (obviously), there has to be artistic intent. Don’t just half-ass it because you think I’m not going to pay attention to those things because I bought your album off iTunes.

    As for the “bonus” stuff, I can see it both ways. As a fan, of course I want all that extra stuff. I personally love anything, whether it’s a DVD extra, documentary, magazine article, that gives me insight into the album. I chase that stuff.

    But if I’m the artist I would feel somewhat protective about that process. I’m not sure I want the fans to know how the album was made. I don’t want to tell them what I think the album is about or what each song means. That’s for them to find out for themselves. Just because I think a song might mean something doesn’t mean that’s how the audience will see it.

    So it’s a fine balance. And as a fan, I think I’m more on the side of mystery. Most of the bands that I love are complete and utter mysteries to me. They pop up, put out an album, they tour, and that’s it. Sometimes they’re impenetrable otherwise. And that’s ok with me. If anything it makes me love them more.

    I suppose my opinion is informed by the fact that I personally easily suffer from band fatigue. Sometimes I have to stop following bands or artists on Twitter or Facebook because it’s just too much. Dude, I don’t need to know what you’re eating for dinner. In fact, I don’t even want to think about you eating at some greasy spoon 4 hours before you’re going to play the show I’m attending that night. It takes the mystique away. And if you’re constantly in my face because of your marketing efforts, I get annoyed *very* quickly.

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