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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Letter - A Frontman Says, ?Music Is Not Software - Music Is Art? - NYTimes.com

To the Editor:

"In Mobile Age, Sound Quality Steps Back" (Business Day, May 10), about the degradation of sound quality in the MP3 era, touches on a central concern for musicians like me, who feel that a song's chief virtue should not be its ease of portability. There is an art to listening to music, and the move to jukebox-style delivery of songs in MP3 form has largely compromised that art for a generation of fans.

I remember listening to music on vinyl, poring over the sleeve, looking at the lyric sheet, even following the needle across the record.

There was something in that magical, romantic, tactile relationship with the album that has been lost by the reduction of music to content.

Music is not software; music is art. But I've been encouraged by the growing revolt against that iPod culture and playlist mentality.

Kids at shows come up to me to have me sign their vinyl.

They want to feel as if they're buying into something they can cherish and feel a part of. And you simply can't do that downloading a few files.

Steven Wilson
London, May 11, 2010
 

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Mutes the Meat
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:yesway:

I try to find any music that I feel is special on vinyl.
 

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I love Steven Wilson so much.

I only use an iPod for casual listening - any other time, I'm always using the original copies of it.
 

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Mutes the Meat
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Get a turntable nao!!!!!!!!!!

I have Insurgentes on vinyl...I should get Steven to sign it....
 

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Meh. I had vinyl as kid, and most of them became unplayable very quickly. I had cassette tapes as a teen that turned to shit over time. The CD was the be-all-end-all for me, and I embrace mp3(cbr320). I like owning the CDs though. :lol:

I still listen to albums as a whole unit, not individual tracks randomized with other music, though.

Great music is great music, period.
 

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Mutes the Meat
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I love Steven Wilson so much.

I only use an iPod for casual listening - any other time, I'm always using the original copies of it.
I listen to MP3s in the car since it is often easier. I buy MP3 albums from Amazon, and I try to find it on vinyl for something more substantial.

There is some music that I won't even bother to find on vinyl because it's just not that special to me. The MP3s suffice for that.
 

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Mutes the Meat
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Meh. I had vinyl as kid, and most of them became unplayable very quickly. I had cassette tapes as a teen that turned to shit over time. The CD was the be-all-end-all for me, and I embrace mp3(cbr320).

I still listen to albums as a whole unit, not individual tracks randomized with other music, though.

Great music is great music, period.
That's why you just get a record brush and keep dirt out of the grooves :shrug: If you let them get too dirty they'll sound like shit.

CDs are nowhere near as cool as vinyl to me. With vinyl you get this big ass piece of artwork, and this big disc. You look at the grooves and say "Wow! That's where the music is!" There are so many different types of records too, the different speeds, materials, weight, thinknesses, etc. It's just cool stuff!

I was showing Ambro some of my collection yesterday and I pulled out some near 100 year old 78s. Being able to do that is just cool, he was surprised by how heavy they were!
 

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That's why you just get a record brush and keep dirt out of the grooves :shrug: If you let them get too dirty they'll sound like shit.

CDs are nowhere near as cool as vinyl to me. With vinyl you get this big ass piece of artwork, and this big disc. You look at the grooves and say "Wow! That's where the music is!"
Still rather have a CD. :lol:

Keeping records in hot humid climates is not a great thing either. Warping is a bitch!
 

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I think the death of vinyl wasn't 100% the format itself but the shift to a "mixtape" society. The LP kinda represents an era where there was some pride in presentation and being more inclined to drink in a whole album as an experience. The advent of the "skip button" killed it from a few angles, IMO. People grew a little less patient to sit through an album from beginning to end and likewise, artists started plunking down 2 or 3 songs of substance and turning out albums with 80% filler. Now, of course there are and were exceptions to this but there was definitely a disconnect between people and viewing the "art" in music writing.

Embracing vinyl is definitely something in the direction of revitalizing the experience of listening to music, but I'd say it has more to do with the intimacy of having to track down the LP, dusting off the old record player and just listening. I'm sure there are other ways to bring that feeling and that attention back to the listenership (and as an artist myself, I'd like to know what that is) but I haven't completely solved that puzzle yet.
 

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Mutes the Meat
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I think the death of vinyl wasn't 100% the format itself but the shift to a "mixtape" society. The LP kinda represents an era where there was some pride in presentation and being more inclined to drink in a whole album as an experience. The advent of the "skip button" killed it from a few angles, IMO. People grew a little less patient to sit through an album from beginning to end and likewise, artists started plunking down 2 or 3 songs of substance and turning out albums with 80% filler. Now, of course there are and were exceptions to this but there was definitely a disconnect between people and viewing the "art" in music writing.

Embracing vinyl is definitely something in the direction of revitalizing the experience of listening to music, but I'd say it has more to do with the intimacy of having to track down the LP, dusting off the old record player and just listening. I'm sure there are other ways to bring that feeling and that attention back to the listenership (and as an artist myself, I'd like to know what that is) but I haven't completely solved that puzzle yet.
I agree with your points here, but I would also place some blame on the record companies for signing dim-witted "artists" to crank out some nonsense single to feed to the "mixtape" masses. :mad:
 

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Agreed. I probably left that part out but yeah... record companies seeking quick bucks were probably the ones that started the whole "mixtape" thing off in the first place.
 

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Mutes the Meat
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Agreed. I probably left that part out but yeah... record companies seeking quick bucks were probably the ones that started the whole "mixtape" thing off in the first place.
It saddens me, but I"m glad to see that vinyl is coming back. I am realllllly itching to take another trip to Richmond to grab a stack of dollar records. :yesway:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
A large part of the death of the music industry was the death of the single. People got sick of having to buy the whole album if they only wanted the one song they heard on the radio, so when they had an easy way to get just that one song, and for free, they went for it. iTunes went a long way to fixing that, but it's still a bit of a too-little-too-late situation.
 

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Is Actually Recording
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I still listen to albums as a whole unit, not individual tracks randomized with other music, though.

Great music is great music, period.
:agreed: I love Steven Wilson, and resisted getting an iPod for the longest time because of the reasons he mentions.

But let's face it, the problem here isn't the technology, its the user. There's absolutely no reason you can't use an iPod to play albums - you don't have to use it as a mix tape. And with 160 gigs at my disposal, I can encode albums at a high enough rate of fidelity that if there's any audio degradation, it's beyond my ability to tell on the systems I listen on. I still buy CDs because I appreciate the liner notes, the album art, and the physical medium, but when I'm at work listening to music I'm not flipping through the liner notes, so an iPod works just as well for me.

At the end of the day, music is music, the art isn't the medium as much as it is the listening, and you can use a record player just as much like a jokebox as a iPod (in fact, traditional jukeboxes DO play records). I like having an iPod because I can listen to any album I own at CD-comparable quality from a device that fits in my back pocket.
 

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:agreed: I love Steven Wilson, and resisted getting an iPod for the longest time because of the reasons he mentions.

But let's face it, the problem here isn't the technology, its the user. There's absolutely no reason you can't use an iPod to play albums - you don't have to use it as a mix tape. And with 160 gigs at my disposal, I can encode albums at a high enough rate of fidelity that if there's any audio degradation, it's beyond my ability to tell on the systems I listen on. I still buy CDs because I appreciate the liner notes, the album art, and the physical medium, but when I'm at work listening to music I'm not flipping through the liner notes, so an iPod works just as well for me.

At the end of the day, music is music, the art isn't the medium as much as it is the listening, and you can use a record player just as much like a jokebox as a iPod (in fact, traditional jukeboxes DO play records). I like having an iPod because I can listen to any album I own at CD-comparable quality from a device that fits in my back pocket.
Exactly! (though my mp3 player says Nokia on the front and sometimes rings. :lol: )

I would say the birth of the single was the death of the album. Being able to buy one song, regardless of the medium(singles came on vinyl too), paved the way for people to not care about anything that wasn't a radio hit.
 

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Exactly! (though my mp3 player says Nokia on the front and sometimes rings. :lol: )

I would say the birth of the single was the death of the album. Being able to buy one song, regardless of the medium(singles came on vinyl too), paved the way for people to not care about anything that wasn't a radio hit.
Rather, the popularity of the single, or the birth of a single as a stand-alone entity.

Way back in the day, artists would release a couple singles, then package them together into an album with a few new tracks. I remember when Jimi broke out, it was the "Hey Joe" single, then the "Purple Haze" single, then the "Are You Experienced" album. A single was something that an artist would release between albums, or while working on an album.

Today it's a little different - artists will finish an album, choose a single, release it, and then release the album and maybe a second single down the road. Success is measured less by album sales but by radio plays oif the single(s), so obviously the focus is now on artists that can release one or two good singles, and then enough filler to plausibly call it an "album." You almost have to wonder if the pop world would be better off if they just let the album die, and focused entirely on singles.

Another note - back when I first graduated from college and started working, I used to carry around a Discman and a stack of CDs in my bag whenever I went to work. Not only did that take up a fair amount of space, but it was rough on the media - a couple of my favorite CDs from that era (Gordian Knot's Emergent, the OSI debut, Crystal Planet) show a fair amount of abuse because they were all getting banged around in my bag. Now, new CDs I buy stay in pretty good shape, since once I rip them I don't have to carry them with me when I go out.
 

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Anyway, long story short, if iPods are being used as jukeboxes and people aren't appreciating "albums" for what they are, my thoughts are that has everything to do with changes in consumption patterns and very little to do with technological change.

Of course, Steven would probably argue that the fact I'm talking about music like it's a commodity is part of the problem here, but whatever. :lol: I'm a music nut who just realizes that this is as much about economics as it is about anything else, these days.
 

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I've owned 3 copies of And Justice for All, Seasons In The Abyss, and Coma Of Souls on CD just from playing them, loaning them, and dragging them around in a nylon CD pouch. Once I had a burner I stopped carrying real CDs, etc etc. :lol:

Cassettes were sooo much worse, they would get screwed if you played one in a magnetized player, or one would eat the damn tape. ugh.
 
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