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Why the downloading craze bothers me.

You know it's coming: The day when CDs are no longer being pressed and all music purchases will be made online with the music being stored on a hard drive or in a memory stick.
When I look into my crystal ball I can even see that music existing in a hifi, uncompressed format or a lossless format.
But that is not what troubles me. What troubles me is the loss of a tangible medium. As I write this, I'm looking at my "wall of CDs" and my racks of LPs across the room. I'm proud of my collection. I arrange them into separate genres. I vacuum clean my LPs. I like looking at the cover
art and liner notes. I like the act of selecting a CD/LP from the shelf and inserting it into/onto it's respective player. I like the act of going to the store and purchasing a tangible "piece of art", bringing it home and experiencing it. I know that all this make me old fashioned. I know it's the music that matters more than the "material". But I can't help myself. I cherish these recordings as whole works of art. I even see the LP labels themselves as works of art. There is something special about watching a Columbia 6 eye spinning round and round. So that is what worries me the most: the loss of a tangible format.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

I can totally relate to this. As a collector, tangible items help me freeze time and allow me to hold on to fleeting memories. With a physical object, I can linger and appreciate it (probably why I love my set of Seven Samurai Kurosawa action figures - the film frames come and go.) Shrinking album art saddened and frustrated me as CDs became the default music medium. Soon we probably won't even have the 4 3/4" art.

I'm also wrestling with this professionally. I used to work in acrylic paint on Bristol paper. But, more and more, I find myself doing my art digitally. This is fine for reproduction in magazines. The results are pretty much the same. But, I no longer have physical art in the end.

I just wonder what will happen as society becomes more and more dependent on electricity and technology for basic things. There used to be something to that argument about being stranded on a deserted island with your LPs, a needle and a cone. At least you could still listen to your music.

Buddha
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

Beautifully said!

How about I add a time where the music isn't even on your computer?

It'll be stored on a server somewhere and while you are driving, you can tune into your own collection and pick, choose, or shuffle as you like.

It will be able to follow you to work, on camping trips, you will have your music collection with you at all times.

That's gonna be great and all, but I'm with you, there's just something precious about holding the source of that sound right there in your hands to admire and wonder at.

Taking out an LP, setting it on the ol' turntable, and getting it spinning and making music is still almost an act of magic.

I think it does two things for me...

One, it gives me a tangible experience, and two, it creates a formal listening period...like a tea ritual or something. The very process of playing an LP has become a relaxation technique for me, it signals that something good is about to happen.

I'd hate to lose that connection to my expectations and enjoyment of music.

I guess I'll have to settle for both ways.

As long as we have critical mass wanting LP's, we'll get 'em. LP playback is alien tachnology that is too difficult to try and change the delivery system. CD's, I'm not so sure. Eventually I think they will go the way of the digital cassette tape things we used to use, floppy discs, zip drives, whatever, and just not be made...digital seems to lend itself more readily to changes in data delivery. You are right, digital will be all "no moving parts" soon - maybe they'll create good looking sticks with cool screens to check out while we listen, but it won't be the same.

Sorry to ramble, I liked your post!

ohfourohnine
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

So, Bhudda, I was wrong again. We may even be in the same pew - or at least adjacent ones.

<<"One, it gives me a tangible experience, and two, it creates a formal listening period...like a tea ritual or something. The very process of playing an LP has become a relaxation technique for me, it signals that something good is about to happen. I'd hate to lose that connection to my expectations and enjoyment of music">> I couldn't have said it better, but I have said it almost as well.

<<"As long as we have critical mass wanting LP's, we'll get 'em.">> There's the nut of it. Fortunately, it appears there are enough of us eager for high quality LP's to keep a fine niche industry alive. Every time I scan the vinyl offerings from Acoustic Sounds and Music Direct I find stuff I want to buy - and I do. Better than that, those listings always include advance info on forthcoming releases. Maybe even better, there is evidence that some real youngsters are being charmed by yesterday's technology.

Long Live Analog - (at least as long as I do)

g_man
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

I wonder if there were similar conversations with the invention of audio playback equipment: More and more people are going to stop going to performances and sit at home listening to their audio system. It's nice and all, and I can see the why people like it, but they are missing the essense, seeing the muscians, etc., etc.

I feel that going all digital (when done well) is really MORE about the music, and that is what matters. We as a society place a lot of importance on gathering more and more 'stuff'. The day I moved 300+ CDs out of the living room into the attic was realy nice. Do I miss it? Yes, sometimes I really do, but the benefits...

jazzfan
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.


Quote:
I wonder if there were similar conversations with the invention of audio playback equipment: More and more people are going to stop going to performances and sit at home listening to their audio system. It's nice and all, and I can see the why people like it, but they are missing the essense, seeing the muscians, etc., etc.

Here is yet another side of the issue to consider, the other day the news wires featured a story about the Julliard School of Music (I believe) acquiring several music manuscripts for their collection. Their idea of a music collection is not about recordings but about the scores for various pieces of music.

And here we are debating the merits of performances of music on CDs, LPs and hard disks. To each his own I say.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

I think the amazing thing is when in one of WP blogs they talked about the "brilliant?" recording executives worrying about storage space and throwing old R2R masters in the dumpster with employees running out to get them. There are some stupid people in this industry who have no sense of history, especially recorded history. Why would they not offer them to the Library of Congress or at least ask them if they would be interested? I would take THAT job and the time to listen and catalog every one of them.

nunhgrader
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

I doubt (and hope) that cds will not completely disappear for some time. Downloading digital content is definitely taking over but, I feel cds may still hold a place in music lover's hearts for quit awhile. I love the tangible media formats (cd, vinyl, SACD, and DVD-A). I do download tons of music and I find it to be a wonderful gateway into the world of music but, physical possession rates high on my list of priorities as a music lover/ collector.

MUDSHARK
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

There is nothing like reading a book or a magazine even though electronic versions are more cost effective.

The day may come where lossless does make cd's obsolete but audiophiles are a very influential group and like vinyl, cd's will still be available.

However, the ability to have your favorite 300 cd's on the harddrive of your cd player is a very attractive and convenient way to select music. Lossless is not there yet but I think it will be at the cd level in the near future. Mp3 will l8ikely remain the format of choice for the masses.

Sam Norland
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

When it comes to reading it's an entirely different story. Of course flicking through real paper is a much more gratifying experience than going blind trying to read text on a computer screen (just wait until AI books hit the market though, and even that might change!)

Back to the music downloading business: at least when I'm browsing through fairplay e-labels I can be sure that the bands I find on them haven't been forced into an image imposed on them by the producers.
So far the music I've downloaded from e-labels has been more raw and less contrived than almost anything I can find on major label cds. I can also access music from remote corners of the world which were previously only uncovered by the likes of Ry Cooder.
Furthermore I've begun to actually enjoy paying for music, now that I know that artists will actually be seeing a reasonable portion of the profits.

So yeah, I do get kind of nostalgic when I think that physically collecting music is a thing of the past. In the end however, at least this way it won't only be a few who financially benefit from it.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Why the downloading craze bothers me.

Today's News Desk story by the CRIA is a telling bit of news. The fact that many are tired of not being able to find hard copies readily available of music they are interested in is so true. Most record stores are cutting back, even Best Buy's is getting smaller, Borders is seriously shrinking, and Frye's seems to be as well at our local mall.

The real problem for me is why are so many accepting such poor quality in their music these days? This downloading craze is becoming the "Cliff Notes" of the music industry. Now that Naxos is discontinuing SACD, we can only hope that others will try and fill the void. This is probably not going to happen. It will force me to seriously start buying more from labels that DO support Hybrid SACD.

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