One of my favorite movies if High Fidelity, it’s a nice combination of relationship issues as well as about fanatical music collectors, creating top five lists about nearly anything. And if you have not seen the roots of Jack Black’s Rock&Roll persona, this is the movie to watch, especially the initial introduction with him dancing that silly sexy dance in the record store.
Anyway, this is about record collecting. The biggest thing I miss from the vinyl days — and those days are over — is that you could collect all kinds of obscure records. There’s still something like that around, see this YouTube video with the most amazing cellar full of old records.
Anyway, the biggest problem with digital distribution is that if a band or a label cease to exist, of many reasons, and there are many, the digital material might no longer be available. You can’t find it on garage sales, in the basement of old record stores, at a friend’s house, scavenging through your parents’ old records, and so on. It means that as we speak a lot of of music is disappearing from this universe, in forms of web sites closing down, hard disks accidentally or deliberately being destroyed, and so on.
Especially concerning net labels this is not a good thing. I actually finally realized the biggest benefit as a netlabel for using archive.org as the content server. Yes, the downloads are somewhat slow, but if the netlabel or artist will disappear, at least the material is still around. As such, I really recommend using archive.org for any free material you are creating.
The other thing is just to scavenge and find free material, and keep it around on hard disks and DVDs as backups. At some point you might be the only one who has access to this material. As we get more and more mass distribution of commercial stuff, it is really nice to have small nuggets of special music that nobody else remembered to put aside.
The other, somewhat sad part, especially after I watched High Fidelity the Nth time last night is that there’s something special about big vinyl sleeves, the artwork, listings, and so on. The CD half-way killed this part of a release, and now with digital releases, if we are lucky, we could get a PNG/JPEG image from some server out there. But the whole thing of a tangible part that you could put in a shelf, that’s now missing.
I hope something new and exiting will arrive so that music is again tangible. However, if one is pragmatic, with this digital age and cost cuttings, I don’t see anything happening. Unless any of you reading have a scoop. I nearly thought of burning CDs of material I’ve downloaded from the netlabels and put those into a nice shelf, but then again it’s just a big pile of transparent CD packages…