Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Stop whining about vinyl

Recent news that UK vinyl sales had passed downloads was greeted with the predictable click baiting headline of "This country is going backwards". These endless futile arguments about analogue versus digital are just a distraction. Instead industry commentators should focus on the argument put forward by David Sax in his important and overlooked new book, The Revenge of the Analog:
The choice we face isn't between digital and analog. That simplistic duality is actually the language that digital has conditioned us to: a false binary choice between 1 and 0, black and white, Samsung and Apple. The real world isn't black and white. It is not even gray. Reality is multicolored, infinitely textured and emotionally layered. It smells funky and tastes weird, and revels in human imperfection. The best ideas emerge from that complexity, which remains beyond the capability of digital technology to fully appreciate. The real world matters, now more than ever.
The money quote is "The choice we face isn't between digital and analog". Since the recording angel first took flight there has always been one dominant delivery platform - first cylinder, then shellac, vinyl and finally CD. But now we are moving into the era of multiple delivery - streaming, download, CD, vinyl, SACD, DVD, MP3, AAC, FLAC, etc etc. The future will be both analogue and digital. No single dominant format will emerge; instead there will be constant change as new technologies present new opportunities and old technologies rejuvenate jaded ears. This inexorable move to multiple delivery has important implications. A positive is that it undermines the corporate stranglehold of single delivery gatekeepers such as Apple Music and Spotify. But a negative is that fragmentation makes the administration of royalties, the life blood of musicians, even more torturous. As David Sax tells us, the real world matters, now more than ever. The classical music industry must stop whining about vinyl and instead rise to meet the challenge of multiple delivery platforms.

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3 comments:

Pliable said...

So quite predictably the first response on Twitter to my suggestion that people should stop whining about vinyl is..... a whine about vinyl - https://twitter.com/overgrownpath/status/819101334808985600

Robin said...

I would have thought the money quote was "The best ideas emerge from that complexity, which remains beyond the capability of digital technology to fully appreciate."

Pliable said...

Vinyl on track to become a billion-dollar industry in 2017 - http://consequenceofsound.net/2017/01/vinyl-on-track-to-become-a-billion-dollar-industry-in-2017/