Posts Tagged 'Vinyl'

About physical products

Physical products are needed in the music business. For a decade now, there has been a trend to aquire music via digital files, which are merely existing as zeros and ones on hard drives. At the same time another movement tries to cling to the old formats of CD:s and vinyl records. The debate has been hard regarding what will happen in the future and which type of delivering system that recorded music will use. Now, I have been thinking and debating for a while and here are some thoughts:

I am sure that musicians and listeners will always need the physical product. For several reasons: This past decade has proven that music without physical format is worthless: Noone wants to pay for it, it is collected like squirrels collect nuts for the winter. The inflation in musical value has been enormous. A decade ago there were actually “rare” music. It was hard to find, valuable, people found it attractive and worth the hunt. There was an interest from the audience to search for music. Today this seems strange. Music is hysterically available. Albums are sometimes downloadable even before their official release. The hunt for good music is limited to a couple of lazy clicks and there is no such thing as rare music anymore. A listener can possess a music library of millions of songs, but not really care or listen to the music. More like a prestigious mirror, or a kleptomanic need. This is not what the creators want. Not even the ones giving their music away for free, which is an increasing trend.

In musical marketing, there is no way what so ever for a manager, booker, artist or marketing firm to make an impression without a physical product. Anyone trying to work with music knows that an email, however ingenious it may be written, and a song in digital format to download, even if it’s the best song ever recorded, will go straight into the bin. Simply because a receiver doesn’t care, they want to be moved, to get a feeling, be impressed, get a present. Recently I listened to a lecture with an independent manager, trying to help four bands. He uses simple but beautiful packaging as his main strategy. Broken flying-V ukuleles, cigar boxes, strange parcels and creative ideas has made an impression with the receivers. It helps to remember the bands and the music it is meant to promote.

There is also a trend moving towards the old vinyl LP (for you younger ones, LP means Long Play, which points out that there’s room for about 40 minutes of music). I saw the new Calexico album on vinyl, a beautiful package, and with a sticker in the corner which read “With this album comes a voucher to download the MP3:s”. This is an excellent combination. A beautiful package with the mood and the attitude to amplify the music, and the daily usage of the music in digital format for the mobile phone or the computer. A vinyl album as the treasure, something to value and to care for. To pay for too of course.

And this is the main reason for physical packaging. A brand, a product, an artist, needs to be recognized. The graphics and the feel promotes an attitude and a mood. It helps to find the product in a shop or in the owners shelf. Just think about how you find the correct CD in your collection. You remember the thin and vague coloring on the back of the album. On the other hand a folder on your computer makes no impression at all. It comes down to alphabetical orders, which is the most unsexy way to get a feeling for your music.

Also, you cant give away virtual stuff as a present. Your best friends will be quite sad about an email with a playlist or some mp3:s. But a CD burned with ten great songs and a homemade cover is an excellent present. Simply because it comes with a feeling, some effort put into it and a physical weight and smell. Of course there are pros to digital products, and of course there are cons to physical products. You have heard them all. But I think there will be a movement back to some kind of physical product for musical publishing. I have started thinking about it myself, and will try to show you something in a while.

Does anyone download anymore?

Often during the last year when I wanted to check out interesting bands, I just went to Youtube or Myspace to listen to their music. There is no files to download and no music to own. This is very convenient, very legal and has major effects on the idea of selling-buying-owning music. When all music is available for free at servers that the artist controls, there is unlimited access to the ultimate music collection, that we all share. This is very nice for a listener, but maybe not as good for the musicians.

As the musical inflation accelerates, there is so much so available music that no one really cares. As we dont even have to do the small effort of downloading, this could lead to an economic disaster for musicians who feels they have to giva away more and more for free by just releasing it all on their sites.

I like this movement in many ways, but are there any solution for musicians who wants to make some money? My own ideas are live gigs and attractive digital solutions. Gigs can be magical and will always be worth a lot to an audience. And who gets to shag in front of a computer screen anyway? Good digital solutions, like our Web Album, with interactivity, contact between the artists and fans, and such attempts will be attempted, I hope some of them will prevail.

Not to forget the people who really likes the idea of ownership. I read that vinyl records is a new trend, as they are attractive, sound great and has this physical beauty of large artwork, great smell and magic touch… Myself, I dont own a grammophone at the moment, but its a high priority when the money comes rolling (some day).

So for the future, I bet there is a physical trend with great products, and a non-ownership-listeners culture, directly on the web. Maybe the biggest loser in the future will be file downloading.

Here is a swedish article on the subject:

The future of the CD

I participated in a talkshow on Swedish TV on tuseday, where we talked about the future of the CD and alternatives to it. It is interesting that there is a movement regarding the beauty of cover art and physical products in these times of focus on Internet-based distribution.

I believe that there will be a part of the audience who will always demand beautiful, physical music products. The collectors, the music lovers and people who buy musical presents in particular. Because who wants a folder of MP3:s as a gift?

I also visited the lovely Rough Trade shops in London last week, and they have a huge amount of new preduced vinyl records. Of course the LP is still the most beautiful way of distributing music. I’m looking forward to a reinessance for the LP.

Here is the talkshow, 25 minutes long and in swedish:


Gramtone är musikutgivare och bas för ett gäng musiker och låtskrivare, baserade i Norrköping. Vi äger bolaget och studion tillsammans, folk med olika bakgrund och olika smak. Två dussin är vi, som ställer allt vi äger i ett rum och säger: varsågoda. Ett kollektiv av individualister har vi kallats, och varför inte: Grammisar har vunnits, stipendier har fåtts, medan somliga är kända för helt andra saker. Alla spelar roll, men inte nödvändigtvis rock. En driver ett enmansprojekt, en annan är med i fem band samtidigt. Några är runt 20, några har fyllt 50. En fick pris för årets bästa museum. Någon ligger bakom Softubes banbrytande pluggar och någon har fått utmärkelse för, hör och häpna, bästa fotbollslåt.

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