Save the Music – Record shops and Music products are dying.
The record shop is dying. More and more people find their musical fill online, without stepping foot in a shop. Independent outlets are closing all the time because people are downloading music, rather than buying the physical products. We cant allow this to carry on.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
An MP3 can be played, but cant be LOVED.
There is nothing better than owning the entire product in the way that the artist intended. CD's and records can be cherished, shared, flaunted and kept for years to come - while MP3's offer no physical appeal and nothing to get attached to.
This is purely a cultural problem. We older people, and I do include myself in this, are used to a certain way of buying music. Because we love that music, we form an emotional attachment to everything associated with it – the physical product, the insert, the era in which the music was bought, the place we remember hearing it, and so on.
However, the main attachment, the central attachment, is to the music itself. So if someone gets an MP3 they are still going to love their music, it’s just the emotional attachments which go along with that love will be different.
I should also point out that lovers of vinyl also made the same argument about the move to CDs, that the inserts were smaller, didn’t have the same ‘feel’, and so on. Whereas the truth is, music is so powerful that it doesn’t matter a jot which mechanism is used to get it to you, the effect will still be the same.
An eclectic collection, or a list on a hard drive.
Surely, if you call yourself a fan of music, you'd rather display your collection of albums in your front room than on a computer screen?
iTunes album artwork looks pretty cool on a big monitor. And they sometimes include a lot of extra artwork as iTunes extras that would never fit into the physical limitations of a CD or an LP.
CD's and records sound better than downloaded songs
The quality offered for digital downloads is questionable at best, and cannot compare to the warm tones that a vinyl produces, or the clean and crisp detail that a CD produces?
That was true when most downloaded songs were in the mp3 format. mp3 is a lossy format, which means that the song sounds worse after it's converted from a WAV (songs in CD's are in the WAV format) to an mp3. But modern songs are encoded in lossless formats, meaning that making the file smaller than a WAV but sounds the same. Apple has used lossless formats since 2004.
Also, even back then you could always play WAV's from an mp3 player and it would sound just as crisp as a CD, but without the skipping.
Tapes and 8-tracks on the other hand sound much worse than CD's.
The old school music shop is an important social hub
The first response to this point is that there is now a lively online music culture, where music fans can exchange views with like-minded people and get to know each other. But like the demise of the independent bookstore, there is a saddening dimension to this.
What's happening to the dingy little record shops where enthusiasts could take pleasure in hours of browsing, or come in regularly to discuss the finer points of a pretentious album with the owner? I can still remember the shops where I bought my first few cds. Who's going to remember downloading their first mp3 as an experience?
I may be a hypocrite, participating in online debates from behind my pc screen. Nonetheless the gradual insurgence of the mp3, accompanied by the disappearance of the music shop, leaves a hole in the heart of once buzzing, real, face to face communities.
Who else loved getting sneered at by some hipster or metal head thinking you're uncool for listening to "mainstream" music that you're ABOUT TO BUY FROM HIM?
There's potential for musical discovery
The browsing nature of a record shop is more fulfilling that a categorised list at an online store and there is less potential online for getting into new genres of music as one might pick up a cheap record in a store from a completely new genre to them and broaden musical horizons.
Perhaps this is again a generational difference. The writer of this counterargument is of the mp3 generation and has never felt that browsing at a record store is more fulfilling, or that online shops are too "categorized." Some like Amazon are, but others like Pandora and last.fm have led to many surprising discoveries.
However my general pattern for finding new music is not through online stores, it is typically something like:
1. Read about a new artist or musical genre in an online article (usually wiki, pitchfork, or some other online musical publication), or on public radio
2. Look up the artist on youtube or last.fm
3. Skim through reviews of some of their more highly rated albums
4. If interested, buy from an online source.
Of course I have nothing against independently run record shops, and if there was one in my area I would gratefully stop by. However with so much music out there, tastes diversifying and limited shelf space, most of the customer base will just be music lovers coming to browse, and buying only when they happen to find something good. The ones who already know what they want will buy online because they are aware the store may not carry it.
Therefore record stores are no longer profitable business and should ideally be run as a hobby by someone with a little extra money to spare.
MP3's less wasteful
MP3 versions of songs are not only more cost effective but they also eliminate production costs which have environmental positives
When record stores were at their peak, there was a lot less mainstream variety of music available but with the sheer number of artists and genres of music, it makes practical sense for electronic versions to become popular as audiences can access more of the music available at one instance.
An online store makes songs available earlier than their hard copy counterparts
Smaller artists can publish more easily
Publishers' main purpose was to 1) get artists floorspace in Virgin, Tower, etc. and 2) market their songs. Much of the marketing was done at record stores so doing it on your own if you were a small artist was almost out of the question. There isn't a real need for publishers now that artists can throw up a Twitter page and sell it on iTunes directly.
Producers controlled artists' music and stifled creativity in new artists
Music can be much more creative now that publishers and producers don't control artists. They lost their control when record stores collapsed.
What do you think?