How do I buy music in 2020? It has become a dilemma.
Of course, the simple answer is that I do not need to buy music at all. Streaming has meant the listening to music is too easy and too cheap.
I long for the good old days when I had to wait all year for my parents to take me on holiday to Edinburgh so that I could see a copy of All Things Must Pass never mind buy it.
Saving pocket money… longing… searching… finally finding and buying and bringing home to take out of the sleeve and set the needle down… listening while gazing at the cover as if it was a scared relic.
It was as much about the collecting as the listening. Purchasing. Owning.
That is partly why the streaming doesn’t satisfy. Oh I do it but for me that is like listening to the radio in order to hear what you might want to buy.
There is more though. I have also worked with musicians. Managed them in an amateurish way, booked them for festivals, played them on my radio show, interviewed them and reviewed their work. I value them. In recent lockdown I purposely bought vinyl and t-shirts and whatever in order to support artists. I want them to have a career so that they can make more of the music I like and not to force them into jobs that they are not made for.
So, I want to buy music.
The problem is that at this moment in history the record companies are not making that easy.
The CD is on the wain. I used to have my collection insured for £30,000. It’s hardly worth a penny now. The only real place that I use CDs is in the car and a recent change of car means there is only one of our cars with a CD player. Functionally the CD is not how I should buy.
Vinyl is how I prefer to listen to music. Oh I was wooed by the CD. The sound was better and there were no skips. I tragically rid myself of my vinyl as I replaced them with CDs. For almost thirty years it was CDs.
I have been attracted in recent times back to vinyl again. The quality of the sound is so much superior than in the late 80s. The packaging is still the best. That collecting aspect comes into it. Setting the needle down and sitting back made the listening more quantifiable than listening off my lap top as I blogged!
Purchasing an mp3? Well I did for some years. Actually until very recently. Streaming made it stupid but I still wanted to support the artist. Then I started wondering if I did actually own the mp3. The packaging was nil and there was no collectors value.
I want to buy. It is in the artist and record company’s interest that I buy. Yet they are leaving me struggling.
Let me explain. It is my birthday at the end of the week. I want music. I always want music for Christmas and my birthday. Right now, there is music I want to collect.
The new Bruce Springsteen record Letter To You on vinyl is over £30. This is not a double album. £30. Oh the CD is £12 but that is neither functional or as satisfying. It doesn’t seem worth the extra £12 from streaming it. The vinyl hits the spot BUT I am being priced out of it for me. It is a rip off, with lovely etching on the vinyl or not!
Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, remastered and re-released with all the tracks that were left off in 1994. Not only do we now get the tracks omitted to make the record a single album but we can also get demos, alternative tracks and live versions. I can get all 54 tracks on CD for £35 but the vinyl of simply what the original album should have been is £32. To get all 54 tracks on vinyl comes in at £214! WHAT! That is an extra £182 for 29 extra songs.
I could write more about the new John Lennon compilation too but you have the drift.
I think that I am the honest, industry supporting, collector that BMG and Warner Brothers want to target but as you can see they have me in functional and financial dilemmas that could leave me concluding that it is easier to stream. I am trying to discourage streaming. I am trying to maintain an industry I love BUT we need help coming the other way too.
In the meantime I am going to support more local acts who price their work carefully, so that they can make s living and also make their work affordable to fans. It is a particular joy when Bandcamp give us special days when they waver their cut and the artist take sit all. On days like that you I am more keen than ever to buy the slightly more expensive vinyl of artists like Malojian, Arborist, The Lost Brothers, Ciaran Lavery, David C Clements etc etc...