Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Response To 'Why I Don't Care About Record Store Day' by NME's Rick Martin

I was on Facebook yesterday, and there was an article that kept coming up in my timeline. It was an article from Rick Martin, a music writer on the NME online blog. I decided to look at it. And it made my blood boil.

If you haven't read it, then you can click on HERE to read the bollocks NME call music journalism.

"I don’t even care if I never own a physical CD or vinyl record ever again. I got rid of 90 per cent of my CD-based record collection last year, leaving behind only the records I’d paid for before becoming a music hack.  I don't miss them."

Is there a reason why you only kept the ones you paid for, Rick? I'm guessing you care more about these records because you actually PAID for them with your own money.

Read more of my response HERE

"if you’re seriously bothered about the way your tunes are delivered to you, you’re focusing on totally the wrong aspect of what makes music great."

I don't think anyone prioritises the packaging over the music. What people are actually focusing on is to make the release of a record more of an event and the whole package to be more meaningful towards the bands that release them and the fans that buy them. No band would begrudge a fan who only buys digital downloads, but there would be a sizable number who would love to have something they can actually hold and put a needle on.

"the death of the physical single won’t kill B-sides. Aren’t digital EPs and free pre-album taster downloads their modern equivalent?"

I didn't know we were mourning the death of B-sides.

"If artwork is worth seeing, you’ll see it, even if it’s not on the cover of a CD or vinyl record."

Fair enough if you don't mind looking at the artwork on a small iPod screen or on the artwork window on your iTunes, but many people love looking at the artwork on the CD or a vinyl record, the same reason many people go to art galleries instead of looking at thumbnails on an art website.

"you don’t need to own music to enjoy it. I don’t sniff records."

Yes, you don't need to own music to enjoy it. But you do need to pay for it for bands to keep creating the music you enjoy. 

"Buying a CD or 7” doesn’t make me like a tune any more than if I’d hear it streamed on a blog – great music is great music however you hear it."

Great music can become crap if the medium is crap. A blog streaming an MP3 at 96kbps cannot compare to a CD or a vinyl playing on a good audio system. Artwork can look like shit if you were looking at it through a compressed 500kb JPEG.

"If you’re going to release something physically, make it spectacular, an event, something worth owning – an idea Radiohead have clearly come round to with newspaper release of ‘The King Of Limbs’."

Of course there's the fact that Radiohead is one of the biggest bands of the planet and can actually afford to do something like that without worrying about making money or even just breaking even. And Rick's statement is also ignorant of the many excellent efforts bands have put through into making their physical releases infinitely more special than just an MP3 download. Consider Peggy Sue's beautifully done Lover Gone EP, which transforms from a CD case into a shadow puppet theatre, or many from Alcopop Records, including the new Johnny Foreigner record released as a Frisbee-EP. Those are a lot more creative than a 'newspaper record'.

"The faceless high street stores I could tolerate, but local independents? In my experience, the stereotype is usually true: they’re staffed by socially-inadequate, sniffy twerps."

Most of the local independents I've been to are staffed by friendly, helpful people who genuinely love music. Have you tried Crash and Jumbo in Leeds, Banquet in Kingston, and Rough Trade in London, just to name a few? Maybe it's your own attitude that's to blame?

"If I was teenager today with meagre wages to blow, I wouldn’t buy CDs (like I did with my minimum wage spoils ten years ago) or waste my weekends in record shops. I’d download Spotify, keep my ear to the blogosphere and spend my dough on tickets to gigs and festivals. I might even have some spare cash for a better guitar, amp or synth. Is it a total coincidence that guitar sales have increased in recent years?"

Fair enough, that's how you'd live your life. But many teenagers and young adults I know (including myself) still buy CDs and vinyls and frequent record shops because physical releases mean a lot more nowadays in the digital age. I can sometimes spend hundreds of pounds on physical releases in one month, even when doing so would mean I'd be broke for the rest of it. And what's more, by paying for the music I love, THE BAND gets spare cash for a better guitar, amp or synth (and after that, just MAYBE they can get something to eat), so they can keep on making music.

I have Spotify, and I admit it's the greatest thing ever. But whenever I find an album I really love on Spotify, I always end up buying a CD (or most likely a vinyl) of it as soon as I can afford it. After all that I still have some money left to go to gigs and festivals. I've been to so many and spend so much on records that I've actually become friends with the bands I love and frequently get guestlist spots anyway. So win-win for me?

"Of course, there’s the eternal conundrum of how you make this modern music consumption model profitable – and Spotify’s disastrous margins suggest that no one’s even close to finding it yet."

That's why we have bands release physical records. It's a way to make money while also making the release feel special to the band and their fans. Sure, many of these bands don't go platinum, but that was not the point anyway. These bands love what they do and sales isn't the ultimate thing for them. Many are proud enough with the hundreds of copies they do sell.

"Physical singles are a dead horse. The less time and effort is spent on flogging them, the more money labels might have to blow on signing new bands – the ones formed by kids buying guitars, clothes and drugs rather than records."

So your idea of a good band is one full of kids with fancy equipment with impeccable fashion sense and a drug addiction, and not one that actually puts the time, effort and money into making their musical releases more special? That paragraph right there summons up your misinformed view on music and the bands that make them.

What infuriates me the most about the article is that it attempts to dismiss the physical release completely, presenting an analogue vs digital situation, when there's really no need for it. This is a false dichotomy. You can keep enjoying both, or you can enjoy one. Both have their own pros and cons. Both have their advocates. But it's a bit stupid to dismiss the merits of the other while championing your format as the only one that matters.

Rick Martin, you have your opinion and that's fine, but as many have already told you, your opinion is severely misinformed and based on glaring inaccuracies.

Signing out

Over and out

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, a lot of modern music are produced under the influence of drugs.