Thursday, December 13, 2007

Coolness vs. Financial Gain
+ Free Thurston Moore Songs

Artifacts of cool such as 7" records and zines were not a part of my youth. I wasn't much of a punk rock kid nor were those items popular in the area that surrounded where I grew up. Don't get me wrong - we did have the legendary Village Music and I can boast a pretty amazing record collection. That being said, it wasn't until college that I even began to realize what those aforementioned items really mean to people. Thurston Moore and Byron Coley write this column for Arthur Magazine called "Bull Tongue" and it is several pages worth of recommendations - all of which are pretty DIY (handmade goods, records, cassettes, underground DVDs, comics, etc). At the end, when seeking submissions, they state:
We are particularly fond of archaic formats - books, LPs, cassettes, magazines, whatnots, although DVDs end up being more useful than VHS tapes these days.
Poor VHS!

It reminded me of a phone conversation I had with Passionista Aaron Sunshine a couple week's back, regarding Moore's Guest List for Pitchfork. When asked of his favorite new band, Moore says, "There's this duo from the UK that I really like: Temperatures." He then discusses a visit to a record store:
On the wall, it's like, Temperatures LP, limited edition, 100 copies, and the cover is kind of this rough paper and really homemade with silkscreen on it. Very little information. Just "Temperatures". It's the kind of thing that makes me buy records-- all of those aspects. Like, an intriguing name, only making enough records that they know that they can sell in a couple of months and not having any lying around in their basement in boxes, and the most minimal of information-- just play the fucking record and that's all the information you need.
"He's recommending a record that you can't even find," Aaron said to me.

Up to this point, I had pretty much been focused on being practical - staying in the predominant formats, printing a high number of copies, emphasizing digital promotion. Words like "limited edition" and "archaic formats" hadn't really entered my vocabulary. But then I thought about something David Katznelson at Birdman told me, about "bringing them back." He basically was referring to forcing people to buy vinyl by only releasing albums in that format. It was an intriguing idea to say the least.

I'd been plotting some "digital only" releases, but suddenly I cannot get "archaic formats" out of my head. Not cassettes - but I would love to do vinyl. 45's maybe, because I just love the look of it, and the idea of an "A Side" and "B Side" is just so appealing. That just sounds so cool. But then the practical part of my mind kicks in and begins using terms like "cost effectiveness." So, I arrive at a crossroads - do I go the cool route and take the risk, or stay in modern times. Or - and this I like best - do I find some revolutionary way to achieve both? Stay tuned.

Trees Outside the AcademyThurston
"Frozen Gtr" (mp3)
"Fri/End" (mp3)
from Trees Outside the Academy (Ecstatic Peace)
Buy at iTunes Music Store


PD said...

I think you can have your cake and eat it here, Will.

The reverance Moore seems to hold for the obscure, lost vinyl is a reaction to the economics of abundance:

Basically, as music becomes more and more ubiquitous, music fans crave the unique. If your grandmother is now listening to an iPod, how do you distinguish yourself as a music listener? The recent resurgence in vinyl sales is an indicator of the answer to that: with the modern twist of including a MP3 download code/card with each vinyl copy.

Recorded music product has to be unique, personal, one-of-a-kind - after all, you can get the MP3 from BitTorrent if you just want the music. Oakland's Audio Out Send took that to heart with their new release.

I say go for the cool route - after all, it's not just cool, it's probably the only way to make physical recorded media profitable at all.

P.S. Also thought you might like this CD which is also vinyl. Kinda cool, and a bit revolutionary :-)


Barbara Bruederlin said...

You are a clever cat, you can find a way to do both, I am sure. I do love the idea of 45s, especially those little wheels you put in the centre to keep them on the turntable.

Love the new look of the blog by the way. Boxes and grey are highly underrated.