By Vernon Tart
Remember the days of the record store, when you could take a walk down memory lane just by looking at the incredible array of album covers on the shelves. Along came compact discs with an improvement in sound quality. For most vinyl collectors that has not proven to be the case and with artwork too small to appreciate, there is a great void in the record collecting market place.
So now record collecting is the hobby of music purists and disc jockeys; they know that most vinyl sounds better than compact disc. However, the hobby of record collecting has taken a huge downturn in the last ten years or so as the internet provides all the free music one could ever want or steal – depending on your motivation.
People think the internet and digital downloading hurts the music business and record sales but record companies do not want to take the blame for pricing their product too high, so high in fact that most people were not willing to pay for it.
With the product priced too high and the advent of Napster, a wave of people started downloading illegal copies. Many were younger people hip to the internet the way their parents would never be. The advent of mp3 players and the price of music further declined due to all of these factors.
Now, few people really collect records or compact discs for that matter. People boast about having ten thousand songs on their hard drive but a digital file of zeros and ones can never replace the vinyl album with a rich artistic cover or even compact disc. In my opinion, both vinyl records and compact disc are better than a download release as there is nothing to touch or hold with a digital file.
Digital files are easy to share but society is missing the intrinsic value of having the hard copy of a musical release. What if the hard drive fails? You lose all your music files unless you have a back up. If you own the hard copy then what happens if your house burns down, there’s a flood or the roof collapses and you lose all your music.
However, there is more of an intimate connection between the artist and fans when fans are able to hold the cover in their hands. They play the music while they check out the song titles and read the lyrics (you can actually see the print). As a fan, you read the guest artist credits, maybe read an intro to the artist by some famous or almost famous person that you have never heard of.
Alternatively, you simply may enjoy the great artwork for what it is, but the interaction between fan and artist is lost when people are unable to hold the hard copy and are just playing the ghost like files of zeros and ones.
The relationship with a band and a fan is not just the music but the bands appearance, their lyrics, comments, song titles, and the artwork itself help form the artist’s relationship with their audience. We are losing the connection to the music as a society of people who grow up with music that has no medium of delivery except untouchable, invisible binary code.
This personal connection to the music can last a lifetime, something cherished by both fan and artist. Records and compact disc may become outdated soon and another media may replace them but the personal interaction between artist and fan will never be so intimate in the same way again.
It’s not all death and misery though. The one great thing about the internet is that you are able to make a more personal contact with artists as they have made themselves more accessible to the public in many ways via social media. At the end of the day, there is still nothing like holding the newest album release by your favorite artist; something current and future generations are losing fast and soon will be lost forever.