Saturday, April 18, 2009

Second Annual Record Store Day...huh?

Just another forced holiday, and if anyone bemoans the decline of records, CDs, whatever you want to call the hard round things that have music on them, this is just a last-gasp effort to delay the inevitable.

I'm part of that demo that still buys CDs. Newbury Comics. Looney Tunes on Boylston Street by Mass Ave. In Your Ear on Comm Ave. in Allston. They're all still my favorite haunts, especially the used CD stores for the bargains. Also, where I also buy used. I download, but still like the quality of the sound that comes from my Denon stereo and Mission and Advent speakers. But my seventeen-year-old daughter won't go near a CD. She'll cringe, just like I cringed at my father's heavy, 78 RPM records. My world was the vinyl LP. It's all digital downloads for her, all the way to playing her iPod in her car. Digital is her world.

A great book to read to understand all this is Appetite for Self-Destruction, The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. Written by Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Steve Knopper, it minutely trace the players and events that led us to where we are today in the musical world. It was greed, pure greed (surprise, surprise, huh?) coupled with just plain on bad business that sunk the record industry. They were making money hand over fists selling CDs, and never saw the Internet coming. Well, some did, but they were too stupid to figure it out. Illegal downloads. I just don't understand that concept, to tell you the truth, and that's a subject for a whole 'nother blog. Downloads are a way to promote music, and the record industry was too stupid to figure out a way to do it. Steve Jobs with iTunes and the iTunes Store finally figured it out. And now just about every "media" company is pushing their digital downloads. My cell phone that I just bought in December has a link to the ATT store that I can't delete from the phone's menu. They're still trying to ram it all down our throats, and the big, greedy suits probably will never get it.

But...when I say the record industry is sunk, that doesn't mean music is tanking like the economy. Music is more vibrant than ever, with more new music and more ways to hear it and grab it that ever before. Who knows what the Next Big Thing will be. But for sure, the little stuff is the way to go for smaller, up and coming bands. MySpace. Internet radio. That's just three.

Just the other night I saw The Bittersweets at Club Passim, one of the sweetest venues in the Boston area to see an act. They're touring, they're hitting the right audience, and guess what, they're promoting digital downloading of their music. That night they were promoting their latest live album on Pay what you want, including nothing, and you download the album. If you don't pay, you give up five of your friends' email addresses (sorry guys, but I picked five of you who I thought would be interested in music.) That's kind of a interesting way to look at things. If you don't pay, you give them email addresses, which actually are just about good as gold in the marketing world.

I highly recommend the album, by the way. Scroll down a bit on Action Bob Markle and there's a widget on the left you can click on.

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