Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Retro Chic

My kids think I'm old. I keep telling them that since I grew up in the 70's, I'm not old...I'm retro! And therefore I'm "in." But they don't seem to believe me. But back in the 70's I began to amass a rather large "media" collection. LP's, 45's, cassettes, and yes...even a few 8-tracks. And while you can still find the occasional 8-track at flea markets and yard sales, I'm almost certain we'll never ever really see a retro 8-track revival. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the more recent resurgence of leisure suits!!

I still have boatloads of cassettes in my basement, and in my garage there is a wooden crate with the vestiges of a once-flourishing vinyl collection. I've slowly gotten rid of a lot of my albums, but these are the ones I can't bear to part with, such as the original True North versions of all the earliest Bruce Cockburn albums that I imported from Canada while in college...only to see them all re-released on CD here in the U.S. a few years later...But alas, I don't even have a turntable, and its really not on the list of priorities for the near future. Things like electricity and food seem to be a little more important at the moment.

But vinyl seems to be making a bit of a comeback, though not on a major scale. While I love music, I'm not an audiophile of the type that can really recognize and appreciate the sonic difference between a needle on vinyl as opposed to a digital recording. My friends who inhabit the world of audio-geekdom use words like "warmth" and "richness" to describe the sound...but I'm not hearing it. To me, vinyl is merely nostalgic, especially as one who spent time as a DJ in radio when you actually had to "cue up" a record on the turntable. But for many, collecting new vinyl has become a sign of indie-cred. Which is why many indie labels and artists have begun putting out more new releases on vinyl, some of which include songs that aren't available on CDs. During a recent visit to CI Records in Lancaster, I spotted vinyl releases from artists like Damien Jurado and Vampire Weekend. And more recently, post-indie hipsters like Coldplay and Radiohead have begun re-issuing their discs on vinyl.

And of course if you have vinyl, you have to have a turntable, and the current models are quite a bit pricier than the "hi-fi" stereo system my family had back in the 70s. But of course we probably wouldn't have this resurgence of vinyl culture if it weren't for the club DJs and the emphasis on DJs in the hip hop realm.

The point? Not sure! But it has me thinking about an area close to my heart as someone involved in the radio and music industries: distribution. So in the next blog or two I'm gonna spend some time thinking out loud about old, new, and potential modes of music distribution, with a look at some interesting business models for the digital age.

Into vinyl? If your my age...let me know what you've kept from your old collection. Or, if you're from a younger generation...are you buying any new vinyl?

1 comment:

Lulu & Tutz said...

I am DEFINITELY NOT of YOUR generation...I'm MUCH younger...what's vinyl again? I'm into the whole "vintage/retro" thing...kind of depend on it to make a living....but the only vinyl in my house is my kitchen flooring. I see old turntables and 70's models of stereos all the time at auctions. There pretty cheap since no one knows what they are any more! I'll keep you in mind next time I see one! You must be REALLY old.