What Should I Call My Music?


The last CD I bought was Wolfmother’s debut in 06. The last album I bought was Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking in 1989; just to have it on vinyl.

My question is; what would I be buying now? This question makes me feel old. It’s not a CD. Is it an album? It’s a download but I could get it on vinyl. The death of the music industry in its current incarnation, is well documented. It must be difficult in some ways (or very easy depending on how you look at it) for a group to brand itself when the base unit with which music has been sold/tracked has changed. The entire concept of releasing multiple songs (as an album or CD or Vinyl) may be so antiquated that it may no longer exist.

Just not sure what I should call it . . .

For many years I would purchase a tape, CD, whatever . . . for one song. Singles were only available for the most popular songs and this made it an expensive endeavor to get a song you wanted. Now songs are released on MySpace and featured in video games or offered for free on a band’s site. I download most of the music I listen to for free. I downloaded In Rainbows by Radiohead when it was released digitally. (I really haven’t been a Radiohead fan since The Bends when I saw them at the Mercury Cafe in Denver.) Radiohead’s CD In Rainbows is selling despite with the “all digital” offering last year. It is hard to say what effect the download had on the overall sales given the group has most likely seen it’s heyday with OK Computer released in 97.

There are multiple mediums with which artists can sell their music directly. CD, iTunes, Amazon and now a subscription to Rhapsody via TiVo. There are hybrid models such as Pandoroa (which you can now get on your mobile although I’m not sure what that would to your battery) that allow you to listen to music for free while you are shown ads and funnel you to iTunes or Amazon if you want to buy the music. Kind of an on-demand radio station with the option to buy. This is one of the reasons I’m unsure of how to categorize music when talking to someone.

With CD sales dropping many artists are utilizing packaging to help sell the CD. Tools 10,000 days featured multiple 3D images and a viewer to render the images. Serj Tankian’s of System of a Down also created compelling packaging (nothing compared to NIN’s modern day concept album cover) where the CD was almost an afterthought.

In my opinion the goal of good music on some level is to help convey/inspire an experience. It can stand on its own or accompany some type of activity (e.g. iPod while snowboarding) with the most poignant stories being loose and visceral and not based on lyrics. The kind of music that allows you to take a song and make your own. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and just listened to an collection of songs (a.k.a. album, tape, CD, download). For me music is more about providing a soundtrack to an experience which is why the traditional concept of an album at this point seems very strange. Today, we all create our own albums. With today’s mix/mash-up/remix culture the artists are providing the necessary building blocks for us to create our own album.

Maybe I’ll call it an 8-track.

By Michael Myers