Saturday, March 5, 2011

New music and the lost art of the CD

It's been a while since I've bought a bunch of CD's at once. I hate to admit it but I mostly download now, sprinkled in with an occasional LP purchase on vinyl. But I think I need to get back in the habit, even if just a little bit.

As I listen to these new CD's (currently Pantha du Prince's Black Noise, which is excellent and something I should have bought a long time ago) I have come to realize how lost the CD has become on me. In this era of the digital age it has become the blank CD that has power, not the printed ones that retail for $17.99 but settle for $12.99. Hell this new Cut Copy CD I bought was only $9.99 on amazon, and it was just released a week ago! I guess they have to do something. I probably do download too much music illegally. Most of the money I spend on music is for shows and festivals, plus the vinyl records I buy from time to time. In fact lately I've felt a little out of the music loop, I used to feel I knew a lot of the up and coming bands and was really on top of that shit. My how the years have flown by, now many of these bands have either gotten really big or disappeared and a whole new crop has come up from behind.

Take this year's Coachella for example. Several of the top acts (Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, Kings of Leon even) I saw for the first time years ago when they were still gaining their following. Hell I even remember when Kanye played dancing in the district back in Nashville several years ago. Dancing in the fucking district ya'll. Now they're headlining arguably the best festival in the US (sorry Bonnaroo, you're 2nd though). I guess I'm still ahead of the curve in some respects, especially when it comes to seeing shows, but I do want to be more a normal music consumer and actually pay for the art which I so dearly love. Things sure are changing though, some of the best music is free especially in the rap scene where the mixtape is king. It's hard to convince anyone but young people to plunk down nearly $20 for something you can get for free, and they're not even the ones paying most of the time. Taylor Swift and Big Machine know this and worked it perfectly to have her become one of the best selling artists of this era. Oh Tay Sway.

Truly one of the saddest things about the movement to mp3's over CD's and records is the death of audio quality. Every single person who ever reads this is a victim of this terrible tradgedy. From laptop speakers to the shitty DAC's (digital audio converters) in iPods to the very coding of mp3's themselves we are amidst a crumbling of audio fidelity. And as a lifetime lover and still part-time consumer of music this saddens me. Things have picked up a bit with the development of great lossless codecs like .flac and apple's lossless version of the same thing, as well as the widespread usage of DAC's in home audio. Which btw if you don't own a DAC but listen to music off a computer on a nice stereo you need to get on that, it's one of the biggest improvements you can make and doesn't break the bank.

This being said I am obviously all for the digital age of music, as it has only made it's reach broader and consumption and research that much easier. We can never can backwards, and the CD will soon become a lost art form. I'll miss the cover art and the feel of it in my hands, but I'll do without the scratches and skipping that naturally occurs with heavy use. I've been trying to finish this post for a while now, and luckily that time has given me the chance to throughoughly listen to each of these CD's (the 3rd is The Kill's Midnight Boom). CD's help to cure my musical ADD somewhat, something I'm sure we've all battled with upon the advent of the iPod and iTunes. It's great to listen to an album back to front. Hopefully I'll be doing more of it in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment