I Miss The Records, But Love The Technology

There sure have been a lot of changes in the music world over the past 30 years.

Thank you Captain Obvious, but please humor this old man.  You younger ones think most of this stuff has been there forever.

The changes have their pros and cons, for instance the mammoth changes in recording technology.

When I left the music world if you wanted to do any type of multi track recording with any semblance of a professional sound you had to spend thousands of dollars for just a few songs.

Pro – Now with those thousands of dollar you can setup your own multi track recording studio and record as many songs as your heart desires.

Con – Many people are doing just that. They are making their own multi track recordings and calling themselves singer/songwriters or recording artist or musicians and they aren’t even close.

I could go on and on about these changes but the one change that I wanted to write about today  was the ability to buy music while sitting at home.  I usually buy mine while sitting at my kitchen table.

And notice I said buy music, not steal it.

I don’t pirate music.

I know firsthand what it is to be a struggling musician and my conscience won’t permit me to do this.

I only get it for free when the artist is giving it away.

Last Christmas I received $65.00 in iTunes gift cards which was great.

So I sat down at my kitchen table and planned what I was going to buy.

As I was previewing songs, going through blogs and websites and reviewing lists of the top albums from various years and decades I thought “This is great.” (I know this is nothing new to a lot of you but again humor an old man.)

Right here at my fingertips I have the last forty to fifty years of music.

I could listen to samples, read reviews and suggestions on what to buy.  I could check credits to see who played, who composed, who arranged and who produced.

At some point it almost becomes overwhelming, but I had all this at my fingertips at 9:30 PM in my house at my kitchen table.

I bought three albums that night.

I decided I would digest those three and then in a couple of weeks buy some more.

Now the downside to all this is gone are the local record stores, well almost gone.

When I was young I spent hours at the record store sifting through countless albums.  Even if I didn’t have any money to buy one I just wanted to check out the artwork, the band pictures and maybe their gear , especially the drums.

You met some cool people there and made friends and if you were lucky you met some girls.

My favorite part was the “cut-out” bin.


One of my all time favorite cut-outs. Steve Gadd on drums.

These were the bins where older albums were sold for ridiculously low prices like one to three dollars for an album.  I found a lot of real gems in the cut-out bins. (Top Ten Vinyl Albums I Forgot)

For those of your who never bought a vinyl album and never sifted through the cut-out bin it was kind of like the five dollar CD bin at Walmart but usually better organized.

They called them cut-outs because the covers actually had a notch cut out of them.  This was to signify that these were albums that did not sell the first time around and were returned to the record company or distributor who then had them notched and sold them back to the stores at a very low price.

The catch was no returns.  If they didn’t sell you might as well us them for target practice or to decorate a wall.

Also gone are the great album covers and their artwork.

There were albums I bought or didn’t buy based solely on the cover and the artwork.

Of course I missed some pretty great music by using that method to determine what to listen to.  You couldn’t go to iTunes and preview the album.  There was no iTunes, there was no internet.

I know some stores use to let you listen to the record before you bought it but that practice wasn’t around when I was frequenting the record stores.

I miss the record stores but I don’t miss putting on an album that cost me $6 or $7 or more and wishing I’d never bought it.

By the way $7 in 1977 was like $28 today.  So you can see what a bargain music is today.

And I really do miss the cut out bins.  But since you no longer have any physical product to sell, no real inventory to carry you can have your songs sit on a server somewhere for eternity and never have to move the merchandise.

Like I said, there sure have been a lot of changes in the music world over the past 30 years, some good, some not so good.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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