Friday, September 14, 2007

The Present Future of Music

I was intrigued by an article that ChrisB linked to yesterday regarding Trent Reznor and downloading. I'll get back to Reznor later in this post, but it made me think of some of the interesting means that artists are using to sell media in the iTunes era.

The new Ben Weasel album These Ones Are Bitter is available by download only. Go over to the Weasel Blog, and there's a bunch of posts explaining his motivations for this.
I have never (and probably will never) purchase a song from iTunes. I refuse. I won't even install the software - Not a chance.
I had to butter up The Girl to download this for me to her account and then burn me a CD format copy of the album, which I then burned into MP3 format for my computer. I wish that Mr. Weasel would have just cut out the middle man and made the album available as a CD download directly (or better yet, done a limited-run 'hard copy' release). Where he gets huge points is that he made available printable CD artwork (including liner notes) available on his site. Here's what the disc looks like once assembled:My photos are out-of-focus, but you get the point. The artwork looks just as good as any store-bought disc.
Oh, and the album is really fucking good.

My interest having been piqued by Mr.Chris, I clicked on another Boing Boing link to an Australian interview with Trent Reznor. His observations on the current state of major-label recording labels is dead-on, and his vision of how to distribute the work is flawless.
Reznor: "I've have one record left that I owe a major label, then I will never be seen in a situation like this again. If I could do what I want right now, I would put out my next album, you could download it from my site at as high a bit-rate as you want, pay $4 through PayPal. Come see the show and buy a T-shirt if you like it. I would put out a nicely packaged merchandise piece, if you want to own a physical thing. And it would come out the day that it's done in the studio, not this "Let's wait three months" bullshit."
He fucking nailed it. Sorry.
I used to be a pretty big NIN fan back in the mid-90's, I grew up in the whole 'Chicago/Wax Trax Industrial revolution' of the late 80's and early 90's and it was good to see an industrial band selling out arenas. After awhile, I just lost interest - Simple as that. Still, I always respected NIN for completely re-inventing their sound with each consecutive album. It took guts.
Recently, I've been picking up some of the newer stuff that has been remastered in 5.1 surround sound. I think that it's great that some artists are releasing high-def surround-sound recordings in the iPod age. They're totally worth it.
In the interview Reznor seems pissed that the new album isn't selling as well as he had hoped. For the record, I'll buy a copy as soon as a 5.1 surround version is released.

I'm a huge fan of "free" shit. I can't tell you how many turkeys I've bought back in the day just because they came packaged with some free tchotsky (usually a t-shirt). Me in 1991: "Great, Mindfunk sucks and now I have a CD and a t-shirt from a suck-ass band. Way to go, super-consumer."
Now the rule of thumb is that if there's a band that I like, and it comes with bonus shit pick it up ASAP. Here's a list of some recent albums I picked up with notable extras:
Shellac - Excellent Itallian Greyhound LP - CD included in packaging (so that you can rip the album without burning directly from vinyl). Nice.
Against Me - New Wave - DVD from a recent live show included in the 'deluxe edition' for a few dollars more.
Tim Armstrong - A Poet's Life - I'm not the biggest Rancid fan, but I figured that $10 for a CD and DVD with videos for all the songs on the album was too good to pass up.
McLusky - Mcluskyism - The first-pressing of this greatest-hits comp came out with two (2!) bonus discs of unreleased material. I picked this up last year, and a lot of the tracks were crap, but damn...


Weasel McPuppy said...

Weasel Blog? He's stealin' my thunder.

edP said...

That's awesome Weez. Go kick Weezer's ass while you're at it.

Me, I'm gonna pick up that McLusky GH 2 CD thing.

DC Liar said...

Just make sure to pick up the LIMITED 3-disc edition (you can find it for about $25 used on Amazon).

Chris B. said...

I think there are two main reasons artists use iTunes:

1) It has the biggest market share - best chance for the masses to find the songs.

2) iTunes handles all the logistics and legal bullshit, then sends them a check. Instant paper trail and simple taxes down the road.

I don't like it either and will not use it, but it's like the last presidential election - lesser of two evils. (iTunes still better than supporting RIAA.)

DC Liar said...

I may be a Luddite, but I still buy my music the old-school way. I buy the discs (usually used for less that the price of a new iTunes album) and then burn 'em to my hard-drive.

Chris B. said...

I just made a crap-load of $$ selling a bunch of my old CDs back (after ripping them). When I walked through the door of Record Rev, the alarm went off because there were probably still security tags in there from when I bought the stuff originally.