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OnDitmagazine ― culture

Where's Your Music? Shelves or hard drives? by

seb tonkin

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t’s not as silly a question as it might sound. Forty years ago, if you asked a music fan to point out their collection, they’d gesture towards an entire wall of vinyl. Even a decade ago, people would point to a rack of CDs (even if most of them were burnt). Today, it’s a little more abstract. If you’re lucky, there’s an iPod or laptop hard drive within reach, but if you’re using Youtube or Myspace, well, good luck. The ‘00s began with half-hour waits for single tracks on Napster, continued with high-profile copyright lawsuits, and ended with almost instant downloads of entire albums – for $10 from iTunes, for $? from Radiohead, and for $0 if you know where to look. Ask someone where their music is, and you’re likely to be answered only with a confused stare. Technology drives sales, sales drive technology – downloads are on the up and up while CD sales continue to drop at a rate that sends record executives into a terrified collective sweat. Wipe away those pathetic tears – physical music isn’t dead just yet. Bucking the overall trend is a format that should have died yonks ago. Vinyl sales have more than doubled since 2007 – the biggest numbers since measurement began in 1991. Let’s not be misleading here: vinyl still makes up only

a small percentage of music purchases overall. But considering it was a dead technology twenty years ago, its growth is pretty remarkable. What is it about this relic that’s proving so popular in the digital age? It certainly isn’t convenience. Turntables are still around (both new and used) but a decent one will cost you a bit, and that’s not the end of your troubles. You can start an album on iTunes in less time than it would take to confusedly splutter out terms like ‘stylus replacement’, ‘pre-amp’, and ‘anti-static brush’, let alone put them into practice. The records themselves are often pricier than CDs or downloads – though not as much as one might guess. Shopping at a local store it’s easy to find new indie releases for $30. If you venture to online mail order, depending on shipping and exchange rates it’s possible to pick up three or four albums for about twenty bucks apiece. And of course, if you’re into used vinyl, you can pick up a lot of interesting music for mere pocket shrapnel. It’s commonly stated among audiophiles that vinyl ‘sounds better’. This is, basically, bullshit.

On Dit Magazine: Volume 78, Issue 1  

On Dit Magazine is a fortnightly Australian student magazine with an emphasis on exceptional writing, photography, and illustration.

On Dit Magazine: Volume 78, Issue 1  

On Dit Magazine is a fortnightly Australian student magazine with an emphasis on exceptional writing, photography, and illustration.