Nashville’s and country music’s most influential record label is reportedly getting ready to be put up for sale according to a new report from Hits Daily Double, and Taylor Swift’s 1989 album release and pending contract situation could have a big impact on it. $200 million dollars is said to be the asking price for Scott Borchetta’s prized possession.
Despite being a big label with many famous artist and significant subsidiaries, the Big Machine Label Group remains independently owned, operating through distribution deals with Republic Records in the United States, and Universal Music Group internationally. Along with Taylor Swift, the label group is the home of Florida Georgia Line, The Band Perry, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Justin Moore, Reba McEntire, and many more.
This is not the first time Big Machine has been rumored to be up for sale. In 2011, Sony was reportedly in negotiations to acquire the label for the same sum of $200 million, and they weren’t the only ones showing interest. Big Machine’s distribution partners Universal Music Group were also rumored to be considering entering a bid on the label.
Key to this new deal would be Taylor Swift according to reports, who after the release of 1989 will owe Big Machine one more record before being free of her contract. Whether Scott Borchetta can re-sign the mega-star, or whether she will decide to run her own labeling and distribution similar to how she does with booking and management remains in question. “Swift’s valuation will be far more meaningful for Borchetta if he can re-sign her, because she’s clearly the jewel in Borchetta’s crown,” says Hits Daily Double. “The fact of the matter is that Borchetta must bring Swift with him in order to make his company truly attractive in the eyes of prospective bidders.”
Taylor Swift is considered one of the biggest artists, if not the biggest artist of this generation, and many of the early estimates of how many albums 1989 could sell have her becoming 2014′s first Platinum-selling act, denoting 1 million albums sold. Her last album Red debuted with 1.2 million in sales on the way to marking over 4 million units moved, but this was two years ago before music streaming took over in earnest. Others are wondering if Swift moving from country to pop will put a dent in her sales from loyal country fans.
Also interesting, and something that has gone virtually unreported is that Borchetta recently dropped his moratorium on releasing albums to Spotify, Rhapsody, and other streaming service until after a certain time period. “We’re not putting the brand-new releases on Spotify,” Borchetta told Rolling Stone near the release of Taylor Swift’s Red in 2012. “Why shouldn’t we learn from the movie business? They have theatrical releases, cable releases. There are certain tiers. If we just throw out everything we have, we’re done.” But recent Big Machine releases from Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line were available immediately on Spotify. So far, Swift’s 1989 released officially on 10-27 has not surfaced on the streaming service, though her first single “Shake It Off” is available. The Spotify quotient could cause cause Swift’s album sales numbers to be more robust compared to other 2014 releases that went straight to streaming.
Another question appears to be the standing of both Scott Borchetta and Taylor Swift in the greater country community. Swift leaving country may have ruffled the feathers of Big Machine’s Music Row bunk mates who also may fill the roster of prospective buyers. Meanwhile Borchetta has been making waves of his own on Music Row, with his aggressive practices angering some in the business. Borchetta tends to play by his own rules as opposed to the unspoken writs of the Music Row oligarchy. His big deals with iHeartMedia (formerly Clear Channel) on radio play rights, Cumulus Media with NASH Icon, producer Dr. Luke with writing and production work, and similar deals have Borchetta running circles around his Nashville competition, and leaving some with a sour taste.
The Big Machine Label Group was founded by President and CEO Scott Borchetta in 2005 after he left DreamWorks Records, and includes the subsidiary labels Valory Music Group, Dot Records, NASH Icon, and a joint venture with Universal Republic Records, Republic Records Nashville. The label began as a partnership with Toby Keith, but Keith dropped his affiliation with Big Machine in 2006 to start his own Show Dog-Universal label. Keith still owns a stake in Big Machine however, and this is one of the reasons he remains the highest-paid entertainer in country music. Taylor Swift’s father, Scott Swift, also owns a stake in Big Machine. Taylor Swift was Big Machine’s first signing.
Brad Paisley has been making quite the spectacle on Twitter over the last two days, claiming to be leaking bits and pieces of his upcoming album Moonshine In The Trunk against the will of his label Sony Music. Or so he says.
The frivolity started Saturday night (7-27) as Brad Paisely took to the social network site to post YouTube links to players that featured 2-second snippets of his new songs, all while supposedly stirring the ire of the “suits.”
“I’m going rogue.” Paisley said. “The label doesn’t know I’m doing this. Seriously. But I made a Moonshine Preview teaser. Don’t tell. Better listen to this while you can. I bet the label tries to pull it down. Clock’s ticking.”
Brad then posted links to the Youtube players, and later screen shots of supposed communications from Sony who was apparently trying to “shut him down” as he continued on his quest to release the teasers. “Hurry up and Listen. I’m going to dentention. Breakfast club!!! Here I come.”
Later Brad Paisely posted, “I really do love my record label. Especially for puttin’ up with my $h@t. But I love y’all even more. Ha! Priorities. Okay suits. Catch me if you can. Take 2: enjoy.”
And this continued with subsequent tweets as Brad Paisley complained that the YouTube players were getting yanked by Sony, and posted further players to circumvent them.
Then similar hijinks happened again on Sunday night. After Brad claimed he was restricted from posting the YouTube previews by Sony, Paisley supposedly recruited Ludacris—rapper and co-judge of ABC’s new reality singing competition Rising Star—to post the players for him. “I promised I wouldn’t post the link myself. Me. Myself. I. I’d love to post another link but they’re watching me like a hawk but I bet they’re not watching Ludacris.”
All of this was happening with ABC’s broadcast of Rising Star bisecting Sunday’s Twitter event. “OK great show everybody! Now back to the rebellion!” Brad said afterwards, along with more screen shots of supposed emails and texts from management.
Normally an artist rebelling against their label, even if that artist or their music doesn’t particularly fit the style of what Saving Country Music would condone, would receive nothing but cheering and steadfast support here. And it isn’t as if the Brad Paisley/Sony Music relationship is without problems. Brad has ongoing court dealings with Sony over the amount of royalties he’s been paid, but even in his “rebellious” tweets Brad said, “I really do love my record label,” and there’s never seemed to be a strain in the working relationship between Brad and Sony.
This Brad Paisley leaking episode is not him acting out against his label, it is pure marketing. Maybe Sony did not know that Brad was planning to leak the 2-second snippets, maybe they did. But either way, the entire episode was planned out, choreographed, and carefully executed by a marketing team assembled by the Brad Paisley camp. Whether Sony was in on the ruse really is inconsequential.
Normally when an artist rebels against their label, there’s a means to an end. All we have here is two seconds snippets of songs, and a remix of his already-released single “River Bank” with Colt Ford. There’s no freedom gained by Paisley, or any particular value for the consumer by posting two-second bits of songs. This is all to create a stir in the public, and by attempting to portray Brad Paisley’s actions as spontaneous, let alone rebellious, it is an insult to the intelligence of the country music fan. The lines in the tweets and texts are clearly canned, and it’s no surprise Brad was in cahoots with DJ Bobby Bones to release the “River Bank” remix. Bobby Bones is another character who is apt to fabricated attention grabs full of canned jargon an ambiguous gripes about “suits” shutting him down.
There are artists in country music and elsewhere that truly labor under unfair, unethical, and sometimes illegal conditions from labels, sometimes with tongue-tying clauses in their contracts that don’t even allow the artists the ability to speak on the matters publicly. Many artists were, and are resigned to this fate under Curb Records, and have to fight protracted and costly legal battles to gain the ability to release their own music, including Tim McGraw, Hank Williams III, and others, sometimes having to wait half a decade between releases as their careers lose momentum. To use this unfortunate reality of country music for many artists as marketing is in poor taste, and Paisley’s own potential short changing by his label for royalties should have made this even more top-of-mind.
Once again Brad Paisley is resorting to headline-stealing histrionics to try to remain at the top of the country music mindset in a move that undermines his natural talents, and his standing as one of mainstream country music’s good guys.
Rebellion my ass.
“There’s two terms that’s going around right now. One’s called Bro-Country. You familiar with these? Are you familiar with hick-hop? Um, I don’t think my stuff’s either one of those.” –Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks held a much-anticipated press conference on Thursday (7-10) to announce an upcoming world tour, new music on the way, and that for the first time his music will be released digitally. Though no specifics were given in regards to world tour dates, or a name or release date for the new album, Garth did allude that we may see the first new single in the next month or two, and that he could release his new album in conjunction with the Black Friday shopping holiday in November.
It was announced at the press conference that Garth Brooks had signed to Sony Music Entertainment as a record label, and that RCA Nashville would be handling the retail side of the new Garth partnership. Garth has famously refused to succumb to the digital download era, which is now quickly giving way to the digital streaming era, but he announced today he is planning to make his music available digitally, but only through garthbrooks.com, at least to start. “That will begin within the next two to three weeks,” Garth said. “When [digital] is used right, it can do wonders for the artists. And even better, it can do wonders for the songwriters. When you do it right, we’ll all succeed.”
On the digital subject, Garth later talked about the potential of a package deal and discounts for people wanting to buy his music digitally. “What’s coming right now, I’m going to tell you people are going to mistake for giving it away, but I’m not. There’s going to be a window coming for this digital era, for anyone who’s waited for Garth Brooks to go digital to get it all at a stupid price … the people who have waited should be rewarded.”
Garth Brooks fielded many questions and covered many subjects in the 40-minute presentation, including the issue of his five comeback concerts in Ireland which still remain in limbo. Garth gave a lengthy speech about how he felt blindsided by the decision to cancel two of the concerts, but that he was still hoping to find a resolution. Two reporters from Ireland were on site to ask Garth questions directly about the issue. But as Garth said, the matter was a dark cloud over what was supposed to be a happy day officially announcing the end of his retirement.
“Scared? Yeah. Old? Yes,” Garth said as he opened his portion of the press conference before delving into more specific matters. “So new music is coming, we can’t tell you when because truthfully we don’t know.”
We may not know when, but Garth did delve deep into the nuts and bolts of what people can expect.
“It’s a double album, because we have a lot to say … Allen Reynolds has retired,” Garth said of the producer of all of his previous albums. “Mark Miller, the guy that has been the engineer on all eight studio records has stepped up to producer.” As for who will play on the album, “Same players,” Garth says. “The world has changed, we know that. But all we can be is ourselves.”
As for the songs, Garth says though he’s trying to write, he relying mostly on the material of others.
“I’m getting my ass kicked by the level of songwriting right now … Most of the stuff we’ve been cutting has been outside songs … I do want to say thank you to the Nashville songwriting community, as well as LA and New York. They have been priceless. They have kind of taken this on as their own mission, this album. And I just hope for all of them that I don’t let them down. Because they have spent 24 hours a day for the last three months making sure I got to hear everything possible that they had to offer.”
Garth talked about some specific songs as well.
“The first single that’s gonna come out … might be one of the greatest statements ever. This album also holds a song on it that, I shouldn’t say this, I shouldn’t say this, dangit, that might very well have not taken the place of “The Dance” for me, as my favorite Garth Brooks song ever. I didn’t write it. Pisses me off I didn’t write it. But what a beautiful song.”
As for the style of what people can expect, Garth let it be known he wouldn’t be chasing any trends.
“There’s two terms that’s going around right now. One’s called Bro-Country. You familiar with these? Are you familiar with hick-hop? Um, I don’t think my stuff’s either one of those,” Garth said as clapping emerged in the press conference gallery. “For me it’s Garth music. If you remember, I was the guy that wasn’t the country guy in the 90′s. So it kind of feels weird to be the guy now that’s going, ‘Wow, that’s old country there,’ you know. So it’s kind of odd.”
“Our job is to whether you agree with bro-country, hick-hop, whatever, our job is to fly the flag for country music,” Garth continued. “I want these people walking out of these arenas going, ‘Best show I’ve ever seen. That thumped harder than any rap show I’ve been to. It was louder, it was more chaotic, it was just stupid.’ That’s what I want to hear. All the good things, right? So that’s what our job is. Our job is to fly the flag of country music, and people walking out and going, ‘I’ll put that show up against any other genre of music.’ It’s always been that way, and always will for us.”
As for keeping up with the current trends, and living up to past greats, Garth said,
“I’m ready to compete with them. Because competition between us only make the product better, which makes the consumer more happy. And under that flag of country music. It all keeps going in circles.”
UPDATE: Last ditch effort to save Garth’s Ireland shows is underway. Read more in update at bottom.
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The country music world is titillated with anticipation at what Garth Brooks might be announcing at his upcoming press conference on Thursday, July 10th, scheduled to stream live on his website at noon eastern. But the cat may already be out of the bag. Yesterday Garth put to bed any speculation about if his five stadium shows in Ireland would be happening or not by canceling all five shows, and so the two remaining orders of business are the announcement of a world tour (which he’s already said there will be), and if there is new music on the way.
Over the last few days there has been industry chatter that Garth may be announcing a deal with Sony Nashville, and as it happens, the label and music publisher has announced their own press conference and luncheon tomorrow … at the same exact time as Garth’s. Coincidence? Not likely, though nothing has yet to be confirmed, and the extent and specifics of any deal are still left up for speculation.
Upon Garth’s retirement, the singer became a free agent after resolving his contract with Capitol Records, and the rights to all of his songs reverted back to him. This makes Garth an ideal candidate to set up shop wherever he wants, and as the best-selling artist in the history of country music, it’s only natural he would have his pick of suitors.
Though Sony may be Garth’s eventual destination, Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey floated Garth’s name out there in late May as a potential signee to Big Machine’s new NASH Icons label meant to give support to older artists just like Garth. Dickey said he expected announcements on roster additions “in the next 30 days,” but so far none have materialized.
Very likely the specifics of a world tour will at least be part of the Garth Brooks announcement, but he already announced there will in fact be a world tour on Good Morning America in early December of 2013. “You know what, since it’s you and since we’ve had a history forever, let’s announce it. We’re going on a world tour in 2014,” Garth told Robin Roberts. “I can’t believe I just did that but you are a doll.”
Whatever Garth announces it undoubtedly will have reverberations throughout the country music world. And as mainstream country radio continues to abandon artists from Garth’s era, his actions could have sweeping effects on how older country artists currently being shoved aside will be handled.
Update on the Garth Brooks Ireland Shows
***UPDATE (7-9-14 4:00 PM CDT): According to new reports, the Garth Brooks Ireland shows may not be called off after all. In a letter to Peter Aiken, the local promoter of the Ireland Shows, Garth Brooks says,
I was informed yesterday that the shows are cancelled and the refunds will begin on Monday. I cannot being to tell you how badly my heart is breaking right now. I hope you understand that to play for 400,000 would be a dream, but to tell 160,000 of those people they are not welcome would be a nightmare. To do what the city manager suggests (play three shows and not all five) means I agree that’s how people should be treated and I just can’t agree with that.
Our guys are still en route and if there is any chance that the five planned concerts can be salvaged, and nobody is being let down then we can proceed as planned until the refunds begin. If you tell me, “Garth, thanks but it’s over.” I will cease my efforts and bring our people and gear back to the States. If you think that for any reason that the “powers that be” in Ireland can fix this, then I will faithfully go to the last second.
Please let me know how to proceed.
All my gratitude, respect, and love to you and Ireland, g
The letter comes as news of the canceled shows has created nothing short of a crisis in Ireland. The Taoiseach, or Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny has become personally involved in the matter, and has organized a meeting between Dublin’s Lord Mayor Christy Burke and the City Manager Owen Keegan, in an effort to bring about a positive outcome to the controversy.
A spokesperson for Enda Kenny said, “In light of the letter from Garth Brooks today – if there was an opportunity to facilitate a positive outcome, the government would certainly consider it.”
Ireland and the local Dublin area stand to lose millions if the shows are ultimately canceled, while 18 semi trucks with Garth’s stage gear sit on a ship still steaming toward Ireland through the Atlantic Ocean.
Refunds for the five shows are still being organized by Ticketmaster, and have yet to be handed out for the five consecutive shows at Croke Park starting July 25th.
Brad Paisley is the latest big name country star to get in a fight with his record label, and this one involves a sum of $10 million Paisley is looking for as reparations from Sony who allegedly has been cooking Brad’s books for years, short-changing the singer and guitar player for royalties. And Paisley isn’t alone when it comes to such claims against Sony.
The lawsuit filed on March 31st and first published by Radar Online, spells out how Sony has been using fuzzy accounting to underpay Paisley. A similar lawsuit was also filed by Paisley in December of 2011, only to find out that a clause in Paisley’s contract precluded the performer from being able to see the complete accounting records for songs he had written between 2002 and 2006. The amended lawsuit submitted by Attorney Andrew Coffman to the Supreme Court of the State of New York says in part,
Throughout the course of this litigation Paisley has learned the details of the matter in which Defendant violated Paisley’s rights under the terms of the agreements of the two parties. For instance, the proposed Amended Complaint sets forth specific areas of underpayment which were previously unknown to Paisley including, but not limited to underpayments based on improper retail to wholesale price conversions, improper use of wholesale prices to calculate royalties, improper calculations of returns, improper calculations of when escalation royalties should have applied, the improper deduction of free goods from Paisley’s royalties, and failure to report all sales on Paisley’s royalty statements.
Brad Paisley signed his first contract in 1997 with EMI, which eventually became and Arista Nashville contract—a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony. In February of 2002, Paisley’s contract was extended. In 2006, an accounting firm hired by Paisley found that the accounting for Paisley’s royalties between September 1st, 2001, and December 31st, 2005 by Sony “were not accurate.” When the accounting firm asked for additional records from Sony to complete the third-party investigation, Sony first said they would comply, but then after a prolonged, 3-year delay, refused to turn over certain records needed for the audit. Additionally the Paisley lawsuit says he objects to “each and every royalty statement issued by Sony for the royalty periods from January 1, 2010 through the present.”
Brad Paisley is not alone in suing Sony over underpayed royalties. In late February of 2014, 19 Recordings, the company behind the contracts of all of the American Idol winners, including Brad Paisley’s long-time CMA Awards co-host Carrie Underwood, also sued Sony for $10 million, claiming once again that the way the company calculated its royalties was unethical, and against the artist’s standing contracts.
Despite Paisley’s standing feud with Sony, it hasn’t put a dent in his album output. He recently released a new song “River Bank” that is the first single from a currently-untitled upcoming album.
Former American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler’s 2012 album 100 Proof shocked the country music world with its bold, traditional sound and soulful compositions, so much so that Rolling Stone and Saving Country Music both named it the Album of the Year. Well Kellie is now back in the studio and wants folks to know that 100 Proof was not an aberration. We can expect the same type of authentic country sound on her next one.
Speaking to Taste of Country, Kellie explained she has found her sound that she’s coined “Kellie country,” and it won’t be changing much on her next album. The producers of 100 Proof Frank Liddell and Luke Wooten will be collaborating with Kellie once again on the new effort, as will many of the same musicians. Kellie is currently in the midst of the recording process, and eventually will release the new music through Black River Entertainment after parting ways with her previous label Sony due to disagreements on the traditional direction of 100 Proof.
While some listeners have wondered if Kellie would stick to her more traditional sound in the face of label adversity and a lack of singles and big sales numbers from 100 Proof, Kellie now seems even more steadfast. “[It] is definitely going to be my country…[there were] too many suits and ties, trying to make the calls…This record will definitely be Kellie country, for sure.”
In July of 2012, Kellie explained how trying to put out 100 Proof through Sony was “hell.”
Well, it wasn’t promoted. When my album came out, I didn’t even have a song out on the radio. Nobody does that. [The label was] spread thin…Recording this album, to be honest — and I don’t mind saying this — the process was hell. [Sony and I] couldn’t agree on songs. The thing is, my life is a country song. I don’t need to be manufactured, and I don’t need anyone to tell me what to say or what to sing.
I told you. Once Music Row figured out there is a HUGE group of disgruntled REAL country music fans out there with money to spend, they were going to start manufacturing their own “Outlaws,” fresh faced and focused grouped, ready to maximize their profits with fashion plate country. Well ladies and gentleman, I give you Columbia Nashville/Sony recording artist Josh Thompson, Nashville’s answer to the appetite for REAL country.
This is how they do it: The first thing you need is a bunch of glamor shots, and since the target demographic is red meat “Outlaws” let’s take them in hotel rooms and construction sites. I mean really? Hell, let’s even get him out to Hank’s grave. I mean isn’t that what all those ugly, foul-mouthed, stupid rednecks like, is people who show respect to Hank, right?
But then when it boils down to the actual music, it is the same formulaic frat boy country bullshit. Give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong. Here’s Josh Thompson with his, um, partner:
Two hours with a hair stylist: $400.
Matching designer shirts: $250
8 ball from a black guy in the parking lot that was really talcum powder and baking soda: $80.
Same damn song every other pop country manufactured star plays: WORTHLESS.
But maybe you’re thinking that this is just his radio single, and his others songs might be more “Outlaw.” Think again. Here’s another with that same damn pop country cadence, and I warn you, 0:15 might be the most douche-riddled moment I have ever seen from anyone claiming to be “country,” and it might result in you trying to clean your half-digested lunch out of the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies of your computer’s keyboard.
“Ladies, this is for you especially . . .”. Did he really say that? REALLY?
But this is where this guy brought my piss to a boil, a song he calls Blame It On Waylon.
Piped over a video that shows high school-esque overindulgence of alcohol, nookie girls, and some homo-erotic ass slapping scene at 2:10, this guy is giving tribute to Waylon Jennings for his “honky tonk ways.” I will tell you straight up, this song insults me more than if someone had told me to go suck my mother’s dick.
Listen Josh Thompson–that’s right, I’m talking directly to YOU. Waylon Waymore Watashin Jennings was a true Outlaw. He wasn’t an Outlaw because he wore his baseball cap backwards when he got sloshed and hit on peroxide blond coeds, he was an Outlaw because he looked the Nashville establishment in the face and said “I’m the hoss. We do it my way or no way.”
In fact Waylon wasn’t much of a drinker. Instead he did cocaine. A lot of cocaine. Until he became dis-attached from the whole world, going from bus to stage, and back to bus, never hanging out with anyone, never granting interviews. He could only relate to the world through his music, and even his best friends felt like strangers. Luckily he broke free of all of that one day in Arizona, but he had to come to within an inch of his life to do so, and even then, his lifestyle caught up with him in an early death.
Waylon Jennings died for your sins Josh, and all of the sins of country music. And until you can understand what a TRUE Outlaw is, and especially if you’re just going to use it as some marketing term, I wish you’d keep the name Waylon Jennings out of your damn mouth.
You see Josh, I have no doubt that you’re a fan of Waylon, or Hank Williams, or whoever. But your story and their story are not the same. Josh Thompson isn’t even a person now, it is a franchise. You are more machine than man now, tooled to optimize album sales, your soul replaced by an autotuner, your spirit swapped for a tape recorder, your life path switched for a marketing strategy. Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare, Tompall Glaser, and David Alan Coe were Outlaws because they resisted the very thing you’re embracing, and no amount of drinking or tattoos or bawdy talk will make up for that.
Josh, if you want to become a TRUE Outlaw, and if your music is any good, then I will embrace you as an artist. Willie and Waylon started inside the system too. But until then, you are my enemy, a sworn enemy, even worse than Taylor Swift, and I’m going to be on your ass like stink on shit. Because Music Row has already stolen the word “country” from the people, and I’ll be damned if we’ll let the same thing happen to “Outlaw,” and ESPECIALLY to the sainted name of one Waylon Jennings.
I will be your shadow Josh, the voice of your conscience, at least until you change your ways, start calling yourself pop country instead of outlaw country, or until you decide to 86 the whole charade for a more honest living.
Welcome to country music.
Tis the season of ringing cash register bells and getting snowed. What is a would-be responsible consumer to do when it seems like everything you want to purchase is going to fund terrorists, polluters, or corporations that screw artists and homogenize the music? It all makes you want to get as shitfaced as a shopping mall Santa six hours after being shitcanned for diddling an elf.
Well my friends, I say give the gift of vinyl. The LP is back in a big way baby, and it only seems fitting. Modern music has de-evolved so, it makes sense that we have to go back to move forward. Domesdayers who warned about a nuclear Winter from World War III liked to say that World War 4 would be fought with sticks and stones. So why not get our music from scratching a needle across a piece of wax?
Vinyl is a win win for the consumer AND the industry. It cannot easily be copied like digital downloads, and it gives the consumer a physical item to purchase and have. Album art again can be realized, and hypothetically, the artist can be compensated by additional sales. The win for the consumer is vinyl is free of things like digital rights encryption to make sure you don’t duplicate it too many times and wind up on Santa’s naughty list.
In lieu of vinyl, you should always make sure if you buy music digitally that it is in the MP3 format, not M4A, MP4, or others that can be carrying encryption software. That is why I always buy my digital music from Amazon who gives you clean MP3′s, though admittedly I turn right around and dump it into iTunes, which I’ve discovered sometimes goes back and re-formats the music to their MP4 format. What do your really think iTunes is doing when they are “updating you to the latest version”? If you want to read more about some of the nasty things digital music makers have done with digital downloads, click here (Sony), and here (iTunes). That’s right, each download comes with a little present to make sure you don’t re-gift the music like Aunt Frannie’s high fructose fruitcake.
And with vinyl, there’s no record (no pun intended) of how many times you’ve listened to the songs to be accumulated in some Big Brother database. It can’t be traced. Vinyl is yours, and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. And while the music being churned out by Nashville and the rest of the music industry is not worth the plastic it is printed on because it is void of creativity and then digitally compressed as all get out, vinyl has an amazing clarity and a connection with the original performance that outsurpasses any worries of convenience, even with the snap crackle pop.
Oh the satisfaction of finding a cool record at a thrift store for a buck, or hearing the needle finding the groove to lead it to the first song of a spanking new album. It’s like, well, opening a new present on Christmas day. What a buzkill it is when you open a CD for the first time, and it snaps in half as you try to remove it from the death grip of the center flanges. Bah Humbug.
What, too many Xmas references? Eh, kiss my mistletoe.
Apparently I’m not alone in my love for vinyl. According to the LA Times:
“. . . vinyl sales will reach 2.8 million units in 2009, up from 1.9 million in 2008, a record since SoundScan began tracking sales data in 1991. Rock albums account for 70% of all vinyl sold, but country vinyl is enjoying a growth spurt. Year-to-date country vinyl sales are already at 15,000 copies, compared with 5,000 for the comparable period in 2008.”
So in closing, if you’re looking for that something for that cowboy that has everything, buy them a vinyl record. Or a Snuggie. Here’s some suggestions:
- Townes van Zandt: Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas
- Hank III: Lovesick, Broke and Driftin [Vinyl LP with Bonus CD]
- Hank III: Straight to Hell [2 LP Vinyl]
- Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings (Vinyl LP)
- Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around
- Those Poor Bastards: Satan is Watching (vinyl lp)
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