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What do Max Wood and Trent Reznor have in common?

April 5, 2007

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Male. Skinny. They both enjoy wearing green? “Very white” according to Keith Hayes. Misunderstood perhaps? Whether or not any of this is true, they both want you to listen to new music they have online.

yearzero_cover.jpgLocal Jacksonvillian, Max Wood, has new songs posted, under the name of ‘Teen Vogue dot Com.’ They can be heard here. The equally white Trent Reznor, of the group Nine Inch Nails, has a new album coming out called “Year Zero.” Though it officially comes out April 17th, an be heard here.  

So, what gives? Is downloadable music the great equalizer? From artists included in Pitchfork’s Worst of 2005 list, to someone earning multiple Gold and Platnium awards – everyone wants you to listen to music online.   We all know it’s nothing new.  The Wall Street Journal notes that CD music sales are down 20% from the same week a year ago. The seven year decline in CD sales doesn’t look to be turning around anytime soon, if ever.  And while legal music download sales are increasing by 50% or so a year, overall industry revenue is still down 25% from a year ago.  The industry is slowly, but surely, becoming less top-heavy.  Downloading music is hardly the great equalizer (I think Trent Reznor will have a bit more PR behind his new music than Max Wood), but it’s certainly a rather large stone cast – or maybe the equivalent of a snowball thundering down a mountain side?  That metaphor only makes we wonder if it will melt, or when.

Next to no one cares that vinyl record sales are down. That’s mostly due to the simple fact that next to no one buys records. Last year 858,000 LPs were sold, compared with 553.4 million CDs, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Tangibility is important to some people though.  But is this just sleazy capitalistic ownership? Record collecting? CD collecting? Mp3 collecting?  Labels, spanning all genres and net worth, are offering MP3 downloads with vinyl records.  From local label Shrug Records to larger labels like Touch and Go

inside-vinyl.jpgCris Ashworth owner of United Record Pressing says “a lot of people spend their lives doing something as opposed to making something, and I wanted to make something. I wanted something tangible in my hands at the end of the day.”  So we want to hold our album collection, whatever the format, but we also want that shit on our iPod.  Like now.

Where does this leave the artists? For hundreds (thousands?) of years, musicians have always been broke and on the road most of the time.  The exception were the few that were subsidized by wealthy households, royalty, or the church.  The last 60 years of record sales and music business has been a weird break from the norm. Now we are correcting this perhaps? 

What format do you buy? If any.. 
Do you have an portable digital music player? 

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9 comments

  1. i don’t have an mp3 player, but my truck plays them. and i like them a lot. i always buy vinyl first, and sometimes i’ll buy the cd copy as well if i really want to listen to it while driving and the vinyl was mastered real crappy. i also really like handmade cd packaging.
    and i try to own pretty much everything that friends of mine put out.


  2. hey dawg,
    i started a thread on this once. check this out, lemme know what you think.
    http://ricottapark.blogspot.com/2006/08/inspired-by-that-picture-of-meatloaf.html


  3. Trey. Good call. Your truck plays them, huh. I always think it’s weird that so many new cars still come with tape decks. I mean, I love it because I tape records / have mix tapes etc. I remember hearing about the mp3 decks in vehicle a few years back (when it was new I guess) – they still do that with new models? What year is your truck?

    Nick. AHH. So I’m not crazy! I was searching for that post but could not find it with your blogs search engine thing. Thanks for linking it up!


  4. yeah, when i switched over to typepad, i lost some of the posts. i’ll have to fix that.

    i don’t so much care one way or the other about cd’s, but i really miss playing records. something about the sheer physicality of the vinyl; the pop and hiss and warmth add a whole new layer to the listening experience.


  5. i’ll make no bones about it…i buy vinyl, i download mp3s…i haven’t bought a cd in about 3 years. with the cd-r revolution that may eventually have to change as so much is released on cd-r that will never see release on vinyl. but vinyl is more than just for listening, and in a way it speaks to your “sleazy capitalistic ownership” suggestion, but despite it’s consumerist bent it does contain some deep rooted sentiment for collectors or vinyl enthusiasts. i’m a collector, not for value but for the sheer fact that i love good music and i love the mystique of vinyl. it’s the next best thing to the live show for me to holding on to the purity and ingenuity of rock. i can’t speak much to why it seems so, but i can say i’ve always been fascinated by it, and not because it “seems cooler” than a cd. perhaps it’s the tangibility, perhaps it’s nostalgia, perhaps it’s just stroking the ego of tangent members of the OCD generation…i like to think of vinyl (and music in general) as one of the last few forums of cultural exploration and exploration of one’s own self available to man. all that said, i own an ipod, and happily so as it adds convenience and volume to the equation. i’m as guilty as anyone of this, but as music lovers, sometimes i think we think too hard on such matters. i hope i’m not coming off as defensive of collecting or any such compulsive behavior, as i’m well aware of the psychological implications behind them, i just believe it’s a trivial matter and one of those “if it feels good, do it” kind of things. from the musician side, if you got into music to make money, in my opinion you got in it for the wrong reason and furthermore i think you are a symbol of everything wrong with the music “industry” today. music is (or ideally should be) an art form and not an industry, and it’s the function of the people (and formerly, the government) of a society to support artists. somewhere along the lines we lost track of that, sadly. sadly as well, along the same line the musician eventually forgot he was an artist and became a businessman. so basically i’ve rambled for a long time now and produced nothing of value. you’re totally welcome.


  6. hey josh! thanks so much for the link to my site.

    i want to clarify that on the website, my mp3s (which aren’t actually working right now! yikes! way to blow an opportunity, me!) are called “song approximations.” which basically means i have a hard time considering mp3s a legitimate way to really experience music. (although obviously i think they’re an amazing tool and technology.)

    there’s a performance. then there’s a recording. an mp3 is a new tier below that. it’s a binary approximation of a recording. it’s 1s and 0s. it’s a REALLY ACCURATE way to approximate a recording (or, with digital recordings – which gets more complicated – a REALLY ACCURATE way to approximate a performance), but it’s information and not an electro-mechanical reproduction, which i think is more accurate in a deeper, very important way (although not in a way the human ear can necessarily discern), and also better.

    good topic to bring up, buddy! and thanks again for the inclusion.


  7. also!

    while all formats except mp3s are experiencing a decline in sales, isn’t it true that vinyl is now declining much more slowly than cds?

    again, this is a rad discussion to bring up.


  8. hey josh.. when i said my truck plays them i mean you can put a couple hundred mp3 files onto a cd (instead of making it an audio cd) and it will play them. you can even skip to different folders and stuff like that.


  9. Thanks Chocolate Jesus!

    Max, Thanks for the claification! I don’t know about stats on vinyl sales (I think a real librarian should look that up, not a Children’s dept. one). And actually those Nielsen SoundScan things don’t take into account a good deal of records (and cds) sold at lots of stores like inertia / wayward council etc. ie. stores without scanners. Or records without barcodes that is..

    We typically sell the same amount of records as we do CDs. I’ve never bought an MP3 before. That strikes me as very weird.

    Trey, thats cool. Drive me to the cornerstore so I can check it out.



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