Monday, December 29, 2008

Old Rare New: The Independent Record Shop

Just finished reading Old Rare New: The Independent Record Shop... absolutely great read. I highly recommend it. Edited by Emma Pettit, it's a collection of essays and interviews on the Vinyl record format, the state (and possible fate) of the independent record store, and most importantly I think, the love of music that's wrapped up in both.

The book focuses on primarily the U.S. and U.K. and contains a wide range of voices, including an absolutely (and, I think, unintentionally) hilarious essay by Byron Coley that would make Comic Book Guy of the Simpsons blush with the depth of its snootiness. However, the overriding sentiment is that of the music lover, as opposed to the object fetishist. It's worth noting that these two can co-exist quite nicely in the same collector!

The book also contains a fabulous collection of images of the independent shop in all its glory, a great thing as I wonder how many will be "RIP" in a few years. A fair number of these images are from Chicago's own Jazz Record Mart (Chi Town Represent!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nice one, Columbia College

Damn! was my last post really in August? No matter... a few weeks back I went to a talk given Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot of the Sound Opinions rock & roll talk show (my hometown Chicago seems to love, and be successful with, the dueling critic format... Siskel & Ebert anyone?)

Greg and Jim gave a very entertaining talk... they only had an hour, something about needing to write about the grammy nominations in time for their respective newspapers' deadlines. They didn't present themselves as experts... who the hell knows what the "Future of music" will be! And honestly, there won't be a single "future" any more than there is a single thing we can call music today. As Greg put it, "Questions are free, answers you pay for!"

Here are some tidbits I found noteworthy:

Industry Statistics from Greg

* Unpaid downloads outnumber paid downloads 40 to 1

* Major label revenue continues to fall
(Greg provided 1999 & 2008 figures... I used them to construct the graph below, 2005 datapoint is from Yankee Group, forecast is mine using simple linear regression, again, who the hell knows!)

I think that my key takeaway was Greg's comment that this shift represents a "staggering opportunity to reinvent the way things are done" in the industry. The revenue that majors will apparently continue to lose can be recovered by others... I dunno, by artists perhaps?

Jim talked a bit about the concept of the musical middle class and that the "future of music" might be the possibility for lots more artists to make a living with their music.

Funny question from the audience: How do I get noticed as an Artist
Answer (from Greg): Get good!

This elicited a laugh from the crowd, but Jim went on to discuss the necessary step of "being bad" before you "get good" (echoing something Chuck D said earlier in the year...)