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Re: Brian Eno about recorded music

> . But there is something special there that is lost on the I-Pod  
> generation. I concur.
i'm not too sure that i agree with a great deal of the sentiment  
expressed here, re: the fetishism of owning plastic/vinyl discs.

i'm not the ipod generation, nor am i old enough to actually consider  
vinyl "the superior medium". i own a few thousand cd's, accumulated  
over the past two decades more or less. i own zero vinyl records. i  
have owned four ipods. i have not owned a cd player in a decade. my  
primary source for listening to music is my computer and my ipod. i do  
not pirate music, ever.

at the beginning of 2009, i decided to do an experiment, and switch  
all my music purchases to digital only for the whole year. ok, i  
cheated a few times (if, and only if) a band i liked came through  
town; i'd probably buy their cd if i liked their performance. that  
said, i will probably never purchase another cd / physical product.  
here's a short list:

1. the environmental cost is far too high. someday i'll be dead. and  
where will all that plastic end up? all those bulky jewel cases and  
shiny plastic coasters full of music that someone once cared about and  
now no one does. i don't like the idea of leaving a giant plastic  
footprint on the world.

2. they are low touch, high occupancy items. i buy a cd, i rip it in  
itunes, i shelve it. end of story. sure i might read the liner notes a  
time or two. but by and large it is literally sitting there taking up  
space for the next X number of years. eventually, we're back to point  
1, above.

3. artwork, whatever. if i had a dollar for every cd i've bought with  
terrible artwork with no information inside, i could go on an itunes  
shopping spree. a nicely done PDF can be FAR better than a printed  
booklet, if it's done with some creative vision.

4. record stores. sorry, but i really consider these a massive waste  
of time. don't get me wrong i used to get a lot of pleasure out of  
spending hours of my time and many many dollars at amoeba (here in SF,  
truly one of the nations best record stores). BUT, more often than  
not, they wouldn't have exactly what i was looking for, so i'd end up  
blindly buying other stuff with mixed results. so that can be pretty  
frustrating. sure, i came upon some great finds, but NOTHING can  
compare with highly tuned recommendation algorithms, not even friends  
recommendations. while i'm not too convinced by amazons recommender, i  
think emusic has a great one, and of course netflix (yes, different  
medium, but same principle) is basically unrivalled. add to that the  
fact that i can literally be listening to the record in my home  
environment in a matter of seconds, that's very compelling.

for me, digital is by far a superior music purchasing experience. i  
use itunes (rarely), amazon (occasionally), and emusic (like a crack  

of course, as an artist, the move to digital has hurt my overall  
sales, as more people use file transfer for music piracy. that's an  
undeniable fact. BUT, it's helped me as well:

1. digital sales are 100% trackable. this means that the numbers  
reported to soundscan are 100% accurate. no more guesswork as to how  
many onestops out there don't subscribe to soundscan, meaning i have  
no idea what my actual sales numbers are. i have a perfectly good  
relationship with my label, but nonetheless, i like seeing concrete  
data too.

2. no physical product means that there are no more physical product  
returns affecting my sales. this is huge for me, as i got seriously  
screwed when tower records went out of business and returned over 2500  
copies of my second album. i'm almost, but not quite, out of that hole  
(several years later).

3. streaming revenue is making me more money now than physical sales  
on some of my records (the older ones in particular), which helps a  
lot. in a way, it's the perfect union of the above two points...how  
many broadcast radio stations really report accurate info? computer  
data allows for all of this to be 100% trackable, and helps my  
performing rights organization actually collect money and pay me!

i like the fact that eno is being so confrontational with his  
statement. artists are all too often throwing their hands in the air  
and bemoaning the death of the music industry. i've done it myself! so  
the challenge is to come up with other ways of making it work.

we're supposed to be creative people, right?

- tyler / informatik
- www.nymphomatik.com