There's a moment on "Silencer" where you can hear the anguish spew out of Aaron Weiss' vocals. It's hurtful and real. There are moments on Catch For Us the Foxes where i can't sit comfortably for a minute after the experience. When music crosses that boundary of overtaking any sort of senses, whether it be physically unnerving or mentally unhinging, I begin to wonder if there's a direct correlation between catching our thoughts off guard with a form of entertainment or our attachment to something we find solace in so much that we mentally absorb self-help pamphlets through the vocal counterpoint of instruments? I'm unsure. Today I was listening to a song and heard a line I never took notice to any of the other thousands of times I've listened to the track. I consciously know why I was responsive to the lyric, but how did I shut it out before? It's interesting to gather moss when dragging your body through the swamp of music we roam through daily, but I'm not sure how much of it we retain, or if we're ever aware of what we retain subconsciously parallel to what we block out for whatever reason. I often dwell on my inablities to tell you why I like a certain band or album or song because of the subjectivity behind it. That subjectivity lies in the connection felt or unfelt by the listener, the individual the "educated hype machine" against the grain of the day, hour, breaking life story none of us really take into account, but we all say we're professionals and music lovers at the same time. Then again, who wants to hear from a person with no feeling blabbering on about what is "savant" in style and glows in "mediocrity" from their point of view. Is seeing another point really going to change how I connected to a piece of art? Is it worth reading? For that matter, is it worth writing? I'm not sure. It boggles me sometimes as to the people who rely on other people's opinions, but more specifically - art and to a greater extent - entertainment.
Today I realized that as much as a brand or tour or marketing firm does their best to try and sell you a feeling, nothing is like the moment you're caught off guard by that perfect line against a note. There's a subjectivity and specialness about that moment that no asshole behind a computer or desk can write to detach that.
It's the excuse that's used by so many that have been critiqued by the new age of bloggers not unlike myself. It's still weird that some people think of Absolutepunk.net as a blog though. I just think it's a website as a daily, paperless publication. So on the surface, I'm not hiding behind a computer, it's just that my job output happens to be on one. For too long some people have asked me why I don't get paid, and certain people look at it as Jason getting free labor from the staff that make up the site.
I look at it as this: I don't have to please any advertiser or set market to make sure that the magazine I work for sells x number of copies to turn a profit. Now, a lot of you will take that statement as a jab at a certain rival publication that is slowly moving some of its content online, but I want to assure you that it's a statement based on any and all publications from the smallest of town circulations to Rolling Stone magazine and the New York Times. The mass media runs on one of the strangest of forms of turnover in any business: advertisement. That's mass communication day one stuff.
So all that said, I'm happy to babble on and on whether you or Jason or any of the staff agree or disagree with me. I don't have to answer to anyone except for my own critique. The important thing to look at here is that doesn't mean I don't harbor some sort of "power." That's mainly what bothers me about the whole job of being a critic is that form of power. With great power comes something or other…I forget how that one goes, but I do know with some kind of power comes a certain social hierarchy that can be seen by not only the writer depending on how humble or caring they tend to think about their work, but in the ripple effect it has as well. For example, everyone wants to know what Jason thinks of a new album, especially when it's from either a) a band he's had praise in bringing up before or b) simply a big name with a lot of following. What I don't understand is why does it matter what he or Drew or Thomas or I or any of us think? In the end, we're technically free publicity. Our words are like hyped ad space. I understand that we do have the ability to persuade in our writing and that somehow makes us this social marker for the greater good (whatever that may be), but as a listener who should form their own opinion anyway, do you really need our opinion to form your own? The answer is yes, if it's done in a "let's throw the ball across the room," form.
Okay. So now that you're all caught up. Maybe you already know who and what I'm talking about. Either way, names aside, the final statement further proves my point of having this harnessed power that I can't even begin to fathom having this day and age. What disturbs me is that i don't inherently give myself the power, for I am no greater than an advertisement made by Tim and Eric - if you don't want to look, you won't. When you turn away, the piece looses meaning and fades away. Or (for some reason) it sticks. Unfortunately it makes your band look kind of bad and shows you wear thin skin in an otherwise gruesome industry. Look at all the shit The Dangerous Summer has taken over the last year if you want to take about "bad publicity," and they still managed to write an album that makes kids forget how much of a dick some of the guys have been.
All this rambling - and especially that last thought - comes down to this: If you're a real artist doing it for the music, then your skin better be made of leather and more importantly, you need to let the music speak for itself. Once you get it mastered and shipped to press and then probably illegally downloaded days, weeks or months down the road, opinions will be held and thrown around like the worst food fight on a 106 degree day. I'm just not sure one writer on one website should be held accountable for his opinion, especially when they're putting gas in your tank or money in your hand to pay back loans from the label if there were any accumulated. Seriously? You want to be like that? I heard a story the other day that Hatred Surge wouldn't sell merchandise to kids at shows if they didn't look tough enough. At least be as br00tal as that band when it comes to running the business of your band instead the business of your Twit.
Calling out a reviewer for his opinion doesn't make you look like you're defending your music, it just makes you look like an asshole. Going out every night and touring as many months out of the year and playing to crowds at least 200 people deep and swelling defends your right to do what you do. Russell Hammond said it best: "This is the circus, everybody's trying not to go home." He was talking about that shit back in the early '70s broseph! For realz!
I've been working on my book the last few months and yesterday I updated my Tumblr with an entry of something I wrote just the other afternoon. It was crazy to see the comments on a thought that dawned on me while watching television and eating lunch. Even more insane that someone just "picked it up" on a blog feed. I've become more and more paranoid about my writing over the last year not because of how people react to it, but what effect it causes on a greater scale - and what effect it might not have. We all foresaw the Internet as this powerful machine, but as writers, advertisers, press, etc., I don't think we've fully grasped its greatest contribution - the open forum.
It's all here. The town meetings (Absolutepunk.net, Bridge 9 board), the silly underground debauchery (4chan, IsAnyoneUp?) and of course the social circles (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.) all stationed to breed new ideas from regurgitated thoughts that could fall through the cracks or hopefully stick through "sharing" and "reposting" of ideas and building upon them to make them smarter, or at the very least, continue the laughter. (see also: Internet memes) If you hold water to everything that's said "behind a computer," then you probably don't have the brain power capable of owning and operating the device. In the end, everyone is usually wrong (including myself) and it's only about slowly building on top of the fragments. I'm not here to give you the picture, I'm here to disassemble it and help mold its features into something else entirely.
I'm mainly here to clear my head. I'm here to take my feelings out on the screen, and hell, maybe someone will feel the same way - or maybe someone will help make sense of my confusion. This is a dangerous playground. It makes circle pit fights during the Acacia Strain seem like grade school dodgeball games. If you want to get your opinion across around here, you have to be honest and you have to sometimes look the other way or take that scrutiny and take it constructively.
This has been another installment of When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong.
I'm a drinker. No "edge" here at all. I enjoy a good beer like I enjoy a good record. While I'll never fully shake the sensation of a good brew, I realize the fiscal cost of the bar scene and its impact on my disposable income. Now, in no way do I intend this to be the start of an A.A. meeting, it got me thinking about living in the moment. Furthermore, as Black Flag and Murder City Devils and the Misfits are playing off the jukebox at one of my favorite local bars as I sit outside and write this, I'm dwelling on "music at the moment."
See, every year, we as critics, bloggers, professionally paid elitists and free PR all dwell on a "best of," and I wonder if it's worth anything. By saying that, I'm now dwelling on the questions of "Has it already been done?" and "Will this album make an impact like (insert classic here) once did for music." What the fuck is an impact for that matter? Impact how? Did it change the landscape? Did it defy a genre? Or, for whatever innate reason, it was the perfect soundtrack to a break-up/engagement/life changing event for some person in B.F. nowhere? Maybe it united a group of individual or collective thought?
[side bar: Some guy is just creating a painting on the outside patio of this bar. I love this city!]
What does "relativity" mean in music? Is its impact better served to the individual or is it greater in being worthwhile to the general whole? Ten million smokers can't be wrong right? (Replace smokers with Jack Johnson fans.) I've been throwing around "subjectivity" a lot lately in these blogs, but I feel a sense of recklessness because that word has such a vague statement stacked like turtles upon turtles of variant questions.
At the end of the month, I'll be stepping away from the site to work on another project - that book I keep trying to finish. It's a bitter sweet situation. See, I think I really need to step away from writing for a few months, but the reason I'm stepping away is to write. What does it even mean? It's probably going to be something that "this many people" will end up bitching about in the end anyway, because in reality, we're all sort of conceited fucks in our own right - I'm guilty and waiting in line for the gallows.
Surely most of you, including my colleagues are thinking, "Well, if you don't want to do this, move over, because there are tons of people lined-up wanting your position." That's the thing. Just like the digital age of bands and hit counters, there's an equally bigger pool of William Miller wannabes like myself looking to be the next writer for Magazine XYZ that may or may not exist years from now.
I've been questioning my writing a lot lately. Not only my voice - that thing that makes any of this gibberish somewhat standout - but why does my voice matter? The only reason I ever wanted to do this job was just to do it. The only reason I wanted to write a book was to write it. Somewhere down the line, people (networks, friends, Internet strangers/stalkers/trolls) started expecting a certain level from me.
The thing is, I just want to live in the moment. I want to have causal conversations that just so happen to be interviews. I want to tell you why I'm excited about a record because it's what's on my mind and on my iPod and the CD stuck in my car stereo and blaring at work annoying my co-workers by playing it multiple times during the week.
To me, music and booze stir up similar neurons in my senses; it's all about the moment. The last year has produced some incredible moments for me. This site has garnered individual achievements that I wake up every day thinking about how lucky I am. In every moment there's a song or album that goes with it. That's what matters. It's not how well the string section is put together or how epic certain crescendos can build, it really comes down to the casual connection we feel with something. That's a part of my writing I never want to give up. It's why I won't quit drinking any time soon.
I should be kicking myself. How did I not have David Bazan's street corner performance in downtown Austin in my Five and Alive for best shows this year. It should have been number one? Not only was it an impromptu, intimate performance, but it stuck it to the man. Bazan was on deck to play Austin City Limits this year, and in his and many others' contracts, he can not play within a certain radius of Austin a certain number of days before and after the festival without the promoter's consent.
So Bazan took to the streets, and it was certainly something to see.
Artists like Bazan aren't in this for the job, but the thrill of the art. The way it exorcises bottled up feelings in a poetic nuance only redeeming to the artists themselves. People resonate with that feeling and it's why Bazan, under many different projects, has held his position of integrity while seemingly making a living out of it.
I look up to him not as much as an artist (which he is amazing), but because of the integrity and poise he pulls off in the end. So when David Bazan's work goes unnoticed to fads and hype machines - it hurts less as a fan, and more as a writer. Now, I don't put myself on any sort of pedestal of any kind by saying this, but in the last year, I've found that all "journalism" has gotten lazy. We rely on social networking feeds and unsound word of mouth that we sometimes don't even source. You want to know my baggage: I graduated with a five year degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in journalism and am still waiting tables - and all the red flags were there. If you're thinking about doing it - get out now, or find yourself writing for less to nothing - especially if it's a niche. There's no money here, and every day I see the people making money getting worse and worse in their execution.
The jobs go to the guys who can write 300 words about the headlining band at a huge festival and parade it with a "photo book." It seems like everyone owns a fucking camera these days - and believe me, they're all idiot proof. It's the laziness in the writers I come across these days that gets me. Nothing sounds inspiring. In fact, two people who I frequently check up on inspire me (besides my co-workers here on the site) - Riley Breckenridge and Brian Cook, musicians that have writing positions in major outlets and conjurer more forward thinking than "Dude, Deftones was cool last night," from a major branded magazine who has already shortened their masthead and articles significantly.
Another thing that has had me shook up lately is the thought of walking away from all of this. Walking away from writing. Walking away from the site. I've thought about it quite a few times this year. I don't want this to be my job anymore, and I certainly don't want to be the standard or a hype machine for anyone. I feel like once that becomes who you are to keep the buck, then you've turned your back on why you started this whole thing in the first place.
I've met a lot of great people this past year that are doing everything right in a failing industry. When this whole thing goes belly up in 2012 (Mayan calender dude! Or was it Tom Delonge who told me?), these are the people and the bands that won't be affected by the whole thing. The most important thing I've probably taken away from this year is this: Put yourself against the wall, and see how well you come out fighting. If you push yourself to exhaustion and find yourself still wanting more days later, then you're probably on the right path. You're not going to please everyone, so you might as well please yourself with what you want to do, as opposed to what you have to do. I don't like writing reviews because I have to, I write because the music inspires me for better or worse. I like interviewing certain people because I believe those I interview have something to say because their music obviously does for one reason or another - that doesn't mean I just would like to throw ten questions together to garner hits or find out exclusive info I can get from an early press release or, again, someone's network feed.
There's a lot of "what you have to do" in this industry (both journalism and music) that you cannot escape, but just don't let it outweigh what your personal goals are in the end. If it does, then it's time to get out. I think a lot of people need to just get out. I think it's time for a new class, and I'm certainly not deeming myself the valedictorian of it either. But there's definitely a group of us ready to chomp at the bit. Our teeth are sharper and we know your faults. You've gotten lazy and now you're blind. You've embraced new technology as a crutch instead of a new progressive tool to further your skills.
If I have one resolution for the New Year, it's definitely sharpening my own tools. Now throw me against a wall, and see what the fuck happens...
Friday evening I will be attending a panel to discuss the future of music journalism.
On Tuesday evening, I had to remove myself to the back of the line outside Emo's while waiting for the The Milie After Mile Tour to be let in. Why? Was it an elitist move? Well, while standing in line, one attendee was going on about how her friend was inside interviewing Straylight Run and about how they had started their own website to interview all these bands and how it was hard to get some publicists to grant them access to interviews and like, like, like...
I had to, like, remove myself before I went off on this girl.
Now, I've had the week to think about this from every angle. I have had my share of writing jobs. I have written for a college newspaper, a small website and two larger websites (both this one and AMP Magazine). What doesn't irk me about the girls comments - and vernacular in spewing them about - is the oppurtunity her friends are receiving if they want to pursue a career in writing, but the fact that they, and many other of these Tiger Beat bullshit sites, are wasting time and PR patience with trying to land credible interviews for credible sites.
By all means, I have taken the best William Miller path as I can right now, and am quite proud of my work thus far, and am willing to keep growing and critiquing myself. It's just that the Internet has exploded an online zine massacre that sometimes makes it difficult to do my job, but rewarding when an artists says that's the best interview they have had all week - I can only imagine the questions at that point.
Maybe I'm being selfish in this rant. This site started small, but it built itself up into something pretty awesome. Hell, even Pitchfork has some great writers - agreement/disagreement on content or not.
The Web has opened up the blog scene to acts of discredit this week as well. That's one of the biggest issues stirring out there as up and coming journalist. With so much information and hearsay roaming the Internet and open forums, it's like we have to go back and remember what are high school teachers were trying to get at it with validating sources for our 12-page term papers. In the quick draw of "who's first" news reporting, some of us don't seem to care.
We all start somewhere I guess, I just hope I can weed myself out of this overgrown garden this job market has become. I want this to be my life, my eventual income and my American dream.
You want to read it? Good luck. I think I'd rather read through a dishwasher manual than read it again.
What does this mean for this site and others?
Well, let us first understand the reason behind such a needed change of law. See, the Internet is this breeding ground - usually filled with porn - for the new digital forum of ideas and creativity.
It also has changed the spectrum of "true" journalism for either the better, or worse. Unlike the staying power of a (once) blog like Pitchfork, that has turned into a make or break system for upcoming artists (obviously those guys aren't getting paid off), there are smaller blogs across the Web, some of which you and I have never seen that can get pull quotes for good/decent reviews for some of the worst music out there.
In fact, the FTC has found/seems to think that some of those blogs are started by the companies behind the entertainment. The acts of payola on a prehistoric system known as radio has moved its way over into hyperspace, sans the Tron factor.
If you can't trust Rolling Stone anymore, who can you trust on the Web?
Now this doesn't cover just the Web. Celebrity endorsements, etc. will surely be put in a slump with those late night infomercials trying to shrink that freshman fifteen for many of us through a single pill, instead of proper food consumption and at least a damn walk around the block while that pirated episode of LOST is loading.
The bill also counts "gifts" as forms of payment, not unlike payola. For all of Jason's treasures and Drew's free advances, they're in deep shit now! Oh-oh!
If anyone doesn't know, music journalists don't make shit, and sometimes get what they love for free. Under disclosure, I attended last night's These Arms Are Snakes show for free. When I perform interviews, I usually get put on the guest list, and if I had already bought a ticket, I do decline, or end up selling my ticket for half so some other fortunate kid can get into a sold out show. Pay it forward, you know? That kid may end up buying a t-shirt in the end.
But yeah, we get promos, press passes, posters, etc. Not all the time though.
This idea of "gifts" is frowned upon in the journalist's career because it moves him from the form of objectivity to subjectivity, yet with music journalist, there is subjectivity in what you listen to, and what you like, which brings us back to the dilemma.
The Internet has opened so many blogs to the public's decision. The problems, like personal influence and the bigger problem of leaks, have gotten some in hot water, and left other major outlets dealing with harder times of press.
I think what the FTC is doing is actually a good idea in that it will hopefully weed out some of the bullshit "journalism," just as I hope that a positive end of illegal downloads will weed out the bullshit music.
Howinthehell they are going to do this (which some articles have stated that it will be a game of cat and mouse, great), and who will suffer its fate first, is yet to be determined. We'll have to see in the next decade I guess.
As for this site, I think Anton said it best. I'm there with him. I do a lot of what I do for free at the moment, and the few perks are a nice barter to that. Those perks have never influenced my writing in any way. If you enjoy the bands that I have interviewed or reviewed, it's because it's an honor, and I give myself a one shot chance to convince others. I'm not paid for PR groups/managements to do that.
In fact, I've turned some interviews/reviews down. Even if they offered to pay my debt, I'd rather have that, and my pride.
Well, who could predict the future when you live in the journalistic now. Going through the Beatles' break-up photo-journalism story over at Rolling Stone, I took more interest to what was on the Paul McCartney cover on the 11th photo.
Thought it was interesting. More on this tomorrow. Thank you all for reading...25,000 views? I mean, damn!
Well, I decided to grab a cup of coffee down the road before I go out job hunting again, and have decided to give some thoughts on this article yesterday, since, well, it has a lot to do with why I went to school for five years, why I and others do what I do on this site and more for no pay and why I am determined to finish my book.
What light the article has shed isn't coming from around the corner. The lowered demand and supply of print and mastheads has been brought up in my classes for the past three of the five years that I was in school. Any journalism major will, and has recently, been told of this business downsizing.
I am currently hustling for a restaurant job in Austin. As a writer in a new city, especially a creative and music one, I'm more than part of a lot people daunting to get their feet wet in what they love, and what they hope to make a career out of to pay bills and live comfortably.
In an economic dismay that consist of clunkers, government healthcare and the reinstatement of Michael Vick, our diplomas aren't worth as much as the monopoly money that is to come.
So what do we do? We can go back to school, but that cost more money, more debt. We could travel the land, but that cost money. We could intern, but finding a paid internship is like winning the local lottery.
Passion pulls us through. Instead of doing what we can to get by, we must have the attitude to ride why we love in our lives, and enjoy being a part of something.
Back to the issue at hand -- why are magazines belling up? The article's three points are more than valid. Magazines are niche, while newspapers are universal. The Internet has blended the two. With discovering information and curiosity in our niche, we have discovered information pertaining to what affects all of us at the same time.
The Internet also contains "instant" information without print. 20 years ago we would have had to wake up to hearing about the death of Michael Jackson, or the new state of our Nation. Television gave us a quicker hit, but the Web has made us addicts of the "need-to-know," and "instant" wire of news and information.
Also, we can't forget what the Internet more importantly has given the general public -- instant feedback and a more than open marketplace of discussion. I'm sure if Pitchforkmedia.com opened their site to commentary, I believe it'll be more brutal than Lambgoat.com.
Along with television outlets opening up commentary and draining headlines like a stretched towel, squeezing all the water it can out of the story, the Internet has changed journalism for the worst for some, and the best for the possible whole.
With the addition of commentary and a saturation of online outlets of information, writers are limited to time and observation of their subject. I've also noticed the shift to the Q&A format of the past few years, including this site and others, which I have had to, at times, adhere to. This is something that I try to deter from because it lacks the journalistic standpoint of sources, and having as many opinions and views on a particular story as possible.
Public opinion isn't always best either. Sure, it opens up discussion which is great, but like my father once said, "Opinions are like assholes son, everyone has one."
I sure hope I'm not an asshole.
With all this being said, I still believe magazine sales will stay afloat. There are great writers out there than can sink music lovers and pop culture nuts like myself into a story with such a knack it's almost disgusting and envious.
I hope one day that I can be a part of those greats. In the meantime, I honestly hate reading my iPhone, and will stick to the paper, because digital technology doesn't always carry convenience on the subway, or in the bathroom.
An interesting point. One drilled in my head about eleventy billion times over the past three years as a journalism major.
But don't fret ladies and gentlemen; when going to the dentist office, I'm sure there will be a copy of Highlights, Time Magazine - and depending on the area - Field and Stream.
Let's lay it down this way - unless there's a great advancement past the technology in the movie Tron: Print will always exist.
So what's my argument?
Well, my marketing teacher put it best this semester when we had a discussion about viral marketing, and whether it will become the dominant trend. Well, first off, he says the number one form of advertisement in America is direct mail - the little pamphlets with coupons that clutter the mail.
Secondly, he also explained how not everyone can catch up with technology. Not everyone can afford an iPhone, or rely on a Blackberry to give them up to the minute newscasts, but many can pick up a paper and read; many can watch the news; many can pick up a paper or magazine sitting in a doctor's office and educate themselves.
The Internet also has its drawbacks. One of the things that came up from a lot of guest speakers in class over the years is that anyone can post anything and make it seem like a fact. I mean hell, you're reading this dribble right now, right?
Journalism is about deadline, and having the best story is being out-weighed by having the first story and the huge number of hits. I myself, had to find this out the hard way this year.
I also talked to a source this year who informed me that studies have shown that pre-teens and adolescents are taking in so much information through the Internet, that their storage and RAM is going to shit - and I'm not talking about their hard drive filled with illegal movies and music.
I don't think we'll ever see the end of print, but I don't see it being a dominant force anymore. This study is something that doesn't come as surprise to me, but I am hopeful that others see that you can always still write a letter - because, possibly, the RIAA will eventually shut you down through your ISP.
Will have my TOP FIVE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR posted tomorrow.
Until then, here are some great records that I never got around to appreciate, but with some listening, I think they are still great and should still be mentioned:
The Gaslight Anthem - The 59' Sound
Okkervil RIver - The Stand In's
Young Widows - Old Wounds
Thrice - The Alchemy Index Volumes 3 and 4: Air and Earth (loved Earth, never got into Air)
Sigur Ros - Međ Suđ Í Eyrum Viđ Spilum Endalaust
Spitfire - Cult Fiction
Jaguar Love - Take Me to the Sea
Fear Before - Fear Before
City and Colour - Bring Me Your Love
This is too good. See, you try to do something apologetic, and some asshole with no time on his hands has to bring you down....well, fuck it.
See, I'm done. Checked out. My college days are over.
Well, kind of.
Anyone following this blog knows that I've set myself up for a late April 09 deadline to finish the book that I've been playing around with for the past few months. It has to be done. It's an independent study -- and my final class to graduate in May!
After the thread this weekend and apologizing - and realizing that the Internet is still just a giant wormhole for people to bitch and make themselves feel great - I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people scratching their heads and running mouths about my latest project as well.
The fact is, I'm pretty damn proud of my work across the board. Sure, there are some articles and reviews I look back at and critique, but being a self-critic is the best thing you can do as a writer, because if not, you fail, and things progress like this weekend.
On top of that, I have had a successful blog (I think) for the past 6 or so months, and some great talks and articles with some of my favorite bands and artists.
I got to interview Matt Pryor. I couldn't see myself in any shape or form being able to do that four and a half years aog. Being able to shoot the shit with Jesse Lacey backstage, or have one of the few interviews with Rich Balling about The Sound of Animals Fighting on my own radio show that i had for over four years!
So if you think a few comments will hold me down, you think wrong.
With that being said, here is my final paper I will ever have to write for a journalism class - EVER!
Bitch all you want. Bring it. But being asked to be featured on AMP Magazine's Web site relaunch is the next step on my long road "far from" the middle.
Thanks to any staff member or user who has enjoyed my work, your words mean a lot.
love and respect.
Final article and real topic for this week's blog:
Capitol/EMI part of major record companies reissuing classics on vinyl and to major retailers
Nostalgia and discovery. That’s the simple answer for Capitol/EMI Record’s “From the Capitol Vaults” series that began just a few months ago.
A&R and Creative Vice President Jane Ventom says it’s an answer to a resurgence brought on by two separate generations.
“There are the Baby Boomers who are revisiting for nostalgia purposes,” she says, “And it’s the iPod generation discovering it.”
“From the Capitol Vault” is a series of repressed vinyl records. There are older re-issues by bands like The Beach Boys and Jimi Hendrix, and contemporary pressings by bands like Radiohead and Coldplay.
In a market that is fleeting in CD sales, and consistently rising in digital sales, vinyl would seem like the least likely medium for a a major label to invest in.
Ventom says it’s not just the consumers’ demand, but the major distributors that are wanting to stock the units, not to mention an increase in record player sales.
When walking into Barnes and Noble and Best Buy locations, there’s a greater possibility now of a consumer finding a twelve-inch piece of wax along side a silver disc, less than half its older brother’s size.
NUMBERS AND PRICING
In the past ten years, one would think the old medium of twelve-inch grooved wax would become obsolete to an electronic box that holds up to a 100,000 songs, and can be taken anywhere - but the numbers don’t lie.
In 2006, the Year to Date (YTD) sales of vinyl, according to Neilsen Soundscan, was 640,000 and in 2007, as of November, peaked to 782,000.
Virgil Dickerson is also seeing a good year with his company Vinyl Collective, an online store that distributes vinyl and presses original prints through Dickerson’s label Suburban Home Records.
Vinyl Collective is also carrying older reissues with their contemporary pressings.
“With the resurgence of vinyl, there is going to be a demand for other classic records that have been out of print for awhile,” he says.
He says carrying some of the reissues have been great, and many of the Web site’s customers have been pleased with the new pressings.
Dickerson cites price, and the number of reissues, a significant crack in nostalgia’s road though. While some records are harder to find then others, some reissues, he says, are cheaper out of a used bin.
“Take for example a Dire Straights album,” he says. “The reissue may be priced around $20 to $25 dollars. You have fans saying, ‘I saw that in the used bin for $2, why would I pay $25 for it?’”
Dickerson says he doesn’t think it’s collectors looking for used copies, but the retail price being much higher than a record’s worth.
He also says some reissues are getting extreme in number to collect. He cites the many different colored repressings of Alkaline Trio’s back catalog his site has carried this year. “It’s harder for collectors to keep up with it based on the price [of collecting all of them.]“
THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE
Flea markets are a copious, outside shopping center containing novelty items for low prices and plenty of bargains. Some flea markets attract consumers looking for deals on collectible items such as comic books, baseball cards and general vintage items.
John Hill has been selling used movies and CDs for five years from a flea market in Prairieville, Louisiana. But in the past five years, a younger generation has been stopping at his table to sift through the six milk crates of old vinyl as well.
Though most of the records Hill has are original pressings, there is one hidden in one of the crates, new, wrapped in cellophane. It is a repressing of Jimi Hendrix’s live record Band of Gypsys, put out by the “From the Capitol Vault” series.
Hill says he used to be a part of vinyl record conventions, much like baseball card conventions, but those slowly fizzled in the 90’s. For the past five years, he’s been doing fine with selling and trading from the flea market every weekend.
Finding the original copy, opposed to the newer pressings is something, Hill says, is adamant to many of his shoppers who ask for mostly the same bands: Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and of course, The Beatles.
Ventom says this is just a small niche market compared to the newer pressing sales.
“These repressings are appealing to those buying for the first time,” Ventom says. “There’s also those consumers buying because their originals aren’t in great condition anymore.”
A COMBINATION OF MEDIUMS
Reasoning for the medium’s new demand may be both a backlash and brotherly bond with the rise of music’s new contender - digital.
“I think a lot of people who have gravitated back to the vinyl format, have gravitated to the aspects that vinyl have to offer,” Dickerson says. “If you get an iPod and fill it up with 1,000 song, it makes music almost feel valueless.”
Dickerson also says vinyl has brought back the intention of an album as a whole, as opposed to picking and choosing songs through digital singles. “When you buy a record, you sit through it the way the artist intended you to listen to it.”
While there’s an embrace of the old medium being more tangible than the contemporary compact disc (bigger artwork and more liner notes), Dickerson says the record companies that are packaging vinyl with digital download cards are satisfying two wants: the physical, intimate enjoyment of music when listening to a record, and the ability to take the music and listen to it anywhere.
“If you see a CD for $15 and a vinyl with a digital coupon for the same price, to me, it’s no contest,” he says.
While Vinyl Collective has seen great business in the past year, Ventom says Capitol/EMI has gotten a very positive response from both consumers and distributors. “All around people are happy with the quality of the record and the quality of the artwork.”
See, I was super stoked that my interview with Andy Hull got some front page love. What I didn't do, was fully recheck and copy edit the story after I got it back from fact check and did a once over of edits.
I was on a personal deadline to get the story up, and the enjoyment of having did this story overshadowed my abilities as a journalist. While anyone on this site who has ever had to copy edit my reviews will tell you, I'm not the best writer in the world, but I strive to write differently.
See, I did work for the LSU Reveille for a semester and a half, and came to the realization that I absolutely hated newsprint. It was short, too to the point and boring and trite. To me, especially in writing any type of niche or entertainment piece, it should give a bulk of information and still be a story. After writing for the paper, I now strive to have my own voice and sound.
But you can't play jazz without knowing the basic notes and structure. With this story, I skipped the form and went way too post-bop.
The Internet, and its use of changing the deadline, caught up with me this time. It was shotty on my part to even present what I later realized was down right "nasty."
If you wish to still talk smack...be sure to check out my other work first here.
Also, it seems that my Portugal. The Man article will be going up on AMP Magazine's website soon.
So I guess I'm not that bad of a writer after all.