Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pros & Cons of the Music Business (Part I)

Lacking Credit Information

  One of my favorite pass-times has been visiting record stores to see what new discovery might be waiting for me there. I would pour over the jacket credits of unfamiliar contenders looking for familiar, creditable contributors. I might recognize the producer, engineer, studio musicians, etc. If my curiosity matched my confidence and available cash, I'd buy it, take it home, listen to it and learn what and who I did or did not like about it. This would inevitably lead me back to the record store with an expanded appetite for more. A snowball effect.

  Gone are those days. Our search for music now is via the internet. Sure, we can check out short, low-res samples if we find something, but how do we find something in the first place? Who produced it? Who recorded it? Who even plays on it?  Those artists deserve credit and if I saw it, I'd be more inclined to buy it (or not). This lack of credit information has cut my risk-taking down to almost zero.

   The online shopping experience is lacking and overwhelming. And posting reviews by end-users with opinions that are all over the place is a waste. How do you go about finding something new? These days I tend to rely on my friends who I can gauge, and who can gauge me. I'll check out Pandora Radio, etc. to try to find new artists that match my tastes, and this technique has certainly opened a few doors, but it is very inefficient compared to rifling through record bins checking credits.

   I find it incredible that in this age of instant electronic information, the whining record companies are missing out on such a huge sales opportunity. Why are we forced to play a white elephant game? Intrigue me by telling me what is in the package. Give me some background. Get me involved in the music and the artist. Tell me about the recording venue, the approach, the equipment, the instruments, etc. Teach me so that I may become a connoisseur and share it with my friends. Include anecdotal information like; "this song incorporates the new...", or "Steve Gadd was called in to record the incredible drum part for the title track "Aja" and laid it down in one take, without a rehearsal". Create some "buzz". Information is going to be the first step towards enticing me to purchase new music and currently the record industry is lacking this key component.


  1. Couldn't agree more. Every once in a while I run across a cool track on some web site. Problem is there are too many sites to remember which one ha what. I remember going to Tower Records and looking at all the albums or meeting up with some band members to get a picture and autograph. Those were more personal days. Now we are in our own silos making autonomous comments that have no accountability or as you stated "credibility".

  2. I couldn't agree more. Music has lost its luster. Not only in the artists making music now, but the entire ethreal experience. Gone are the days of record stores and ruffling bin by bin for a particular artist, or an album featuring a favorite drummer, or even a ' super group', like Mahavishnu Orchestra. Instead, we are left to the reviews/opinions from those far too often not as enthusiastic about music as ourselves. There something to be said of the search, the knowledge of where and what it was recorded on, and the reward of having found something so rewarding it reinforces the degree to which we love, live, and become emotionally attached to the music. I miss those days...