63-Disc Johnny Cash Box Set Due in October; Jazz Goes Honky-Tonkin'; Album Releases

Juli Thanki | August 21st, 2012

  • Rolling Stone premiered a new Dwight Yoakam song, “A Heart Like Mine.”
  • Kelly Dearmore wrote the cover story on Bart Crow for the September issue of Best in Texas.
  • Get ready to break open those piggy banks: on October 30, Columbia/Legacy will release a 63-disc Johnny Cash box set. The collection includes 35 albums released on CD by Columbia/Legacy for the first time in the US.
  • Jason Heller of The A.V. Club wrote an interesting piece about Lynyrd Skynyrd. An excerpt: When I listen to Skynyrd nowadays, which is often, I’m not shocked by how good the songs are. I’m shocked that I could have ever denied it. True, the band had no shining virtuoso, no Duane Allman. But even on its 1973 breakthrough album, (Pronounced ’Lĕh-’nérd ’Skin-’nérd), it’s clear that years of hardship, hard work, and hard living had forged Skynyrd into something special. Country-rock was beginning to come into its own around the same time, but Skynyrd’s swampy heaviness couldn’t be further from the soporific twang of Laurel Canyon. From the bleak, contemplative “Simple Man” to the soaring “Tuesday’s Gone”—the latter showcasing the sumptuous keyboard work of the late Billy Powell—that first Skynyrd album went platinum for a reason: It speaks straight. It deals with pain, regret, fear, loneliness, loss, laughter, violence, abuse, and absolution to a degree that rivals any of its contemporaries, and in many ways surpasses them. There’s craft and wisdom to the music, but little poetry or pseudo-mysticism. Skynyrd showed a different side of the ’70s—one where people could party all they wanted, but still had to wake up, go to work, reflect on their lives, and deal with the consequences.
  • Speaking of Skynyrd, you can stream the new album here.
  • Check out this NPR blog post “Jazz Goes Honky-Tonkin’: The Songs of Hank Williams.”
  • Here’s a new video from The Darrell Webb Band, who are nominated for the IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year Award.
  • Thompson Square cut an acoustic version of “A Dog’s Life” for Purina Dog Chow’s “Dog Families Know” campaign.
  • Stephen Deusner’s interview with soundtrack supervisor/producer Randall Poster includes a little bit of information about Poster’s upcoming Civil War project: It’s traditional Civil War songs, but focused on the music and tradition that the boys brought to the war. It will have artists from the country, bluegrass and pop worlds, and some people that will surprise you, too.
  • A bunch of country artists — including the Pistol AnniesCharlie Daniels, and Hunter Hayes – delivered their own takes on Little Big Town’s “Pontoon.”
  • The Grammy nominations concert will be broadcast live from Nashville on December 5.
  • The Wood Brothers covered Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” for The A.V. Club.
  • Saving Country Music posted a field guide to the upcoming Muddy Roots Music Festival.
  • On August 23, Josh Turner will be on The Late Show with David Letterman. (via press release)
  • Terri Clark shared the track listing for her new country covers record.
  • Jake Owen will headline this year’s CMT on Tour, which kicks off in NYC October 10.
  • Album releases:

The World Famous Headliners The World Famous Headliners

Jerry Salley Showing My Age 

Dierks Bentley Country & Cold Cans (only on iTunes until 8/28)

JT Hodges JT Hodges

Dustin Lynch Dustin Lynch

C.W. McCall Wolf Creek Pass

Lynyrd Skynyrd Last of a Dyin’ Breed

Mac Powell Mac Powell

Kelly Joe Phelps Brother Sinner and the Whale

Ry Cooder – Election Special

Los Lobos Kiko Live (CD/DVD/Blu-ray)

  1. Leeann Ward
    August 21, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I’m glad that Willie Nelson is okay now.

    I can’t help but feel bad for Wynonna. What a sad thing to happen to her husband…and a guitar player no less. I hope his hand can at least be saved and functional without constant pain.

  2. Adam Sheets
    August 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

    The Johnny Cash box set seems like an act of desperation for a format that is already dead. The fact is that all 63 of these discs are available on vinyl at both a cheaper price and better quality. The fact is that the future of music does not include the CD. Formats like FLAC have managed to capture digital sound better than the CD, and those who need to have physical formats realized long ago that the analog sound of vinyl sounds better. The only reason CDs have hung around this long is their portability, but with new cars being equipped with iPod and mp3 plug-ins, that is no longer an issue. CDs are dead.

  3. Leeann Ward
    August 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Sadly, I’m not wild about the Dwight Yoakam track. Maybe it’ll grow on me? It’s probably due to my aversion to reverb, because I do like the instrumentation pretty well.

  4. Arlene
    August 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Adam- In my view, CDs aren’t “dead” as long as there is still a market for them. When people stop buying them, distributors will stop selling them. Many senior citizens (including some of my relatives) who love music and still buy it rather than download it– legally or illegally– aren’t comfortable with the “new” technology and may never become comfortable with it. (These are the same people who never learned to program a DVD player….)

  5. Jon
    August 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Yep, CDs surely “are dead” – there’ve only been about $1,000,000,000 worth sold so far this year. Vinyl sales will have to triple just to equal 1% of that, (and, BTW, I have yet to see a record player that worked in a car, so people “who need physical formats” may not be in a position to give a cr*p about vinyl’s purportedly better sound) .

    The future of music may not include the CD (of course, I remember people saying that about vinyl), but that future ain’t here yet, especially when you’re talking about country music buyers. And while it’s great to have your eyes fixed on the horizon, it’s all too easy to stumble and break your neck if you don’t look around on a regular basis to see where you are RIGHT NOW.

  6. Adam Sheets
    August 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    That’s not the point. We aren’t talking about senior citizens. Most of the vinyl sold today is bought by those under 30 and vinyl sales are on the rise as CD sales have been declining for over a decade. And that only includes new vinyl sold in record stores and other major outlets, not vinyl bought on eBay, thrift stores, flea markets, and antique shops, places where it’s not uncommon to see CDs selling for less than a dollar.

  7. Adam Sheets
    August 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Jon, it doesn’t matter if a record player can work in a car. It’s more and more common today to see cars that aren’t equipped with CD players at all, because of the convenience and sound quality of new digital formats.

  8. Barry M
    August 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    The sum total of numbers on the allegedly better sounding vinyl (the next format targeted for sale is always allegedly “better”) is not enormous..though the “percentage increase in sales: is always eagerly reported..(It was when the new vinyl sales “doubled” from 1000 to 2000 units, too )…

    And, uh, Mr Sheets, the demographic breakdown of who switches to what format when (and who owns snappy new cars with MP3 players built in) is a little more complex and varied than “senior citizens” vs. Your Friends.

  9. luckyoldsun
    August 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    CD’s are far more convenient than “vinyl”–and if you throw away the plastic “jewelboxes,” they take up a small fraction of the space.

    I don’t know about a 63-CD Johnny Cash box set. Most of those albums went out of print many years ago due to lack of any demand for them. They are certainly not available on vinyl–unless you want to scour e-bay for them piecemeal, And the sound quality of 40-year-old used records is likely to be much poorer than on a newly remastered CD.

    Maybe the “rebranding”/repositioning of Cash has created a market for this. Heck, I hope they’re overestimating the demand–Maybe in a year I’ll be able to buy the set cheap.

  10. Adam Sheets
    August 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Barry, if I wanted to I could purchase a car with an eight-track or cassette player. I could even listen to those formats in the car. Does that mean those formats are not dead? The fact is that vinyl sales (those in record stores and new vinyl purchased online, not in the other places I mentioned above), are mostly attributed to a younger demographic and automobile manufacturers have decided (based on trends and research I assume) that CD players aren’t essential for the cars of the future.

    There is no way that vinyl will ever become the top selling audio format again. A digital format will always win because of it’s perceived convenience and because it’s the new thing. But as CDs die off, vinyl will once again become the top-selling physical format. The first lateral record debuted in 1889 and it’s managed to outlast every single format to come out since that time. There is no reason to think that will end now.

  11. Ken Morton, Jr.
    August 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Cash is one of my favorite artists and I figure I own somewhere in the mid-to-high 30’s of those 63 albums. Many of those albums have required me to transfer from sucky sounding vinyl (I’m not one who subscribes to the feeling that pips and pops add to the music)to digital via a record player to USB software program. That price is steep, but I’m excited I’d be able to fill out my collection with a higher quality and less time-consuming manner.

  12. Jon
    August 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Anything that grosses billions of dollars in revenue is not dead. Period. Those of us who are actually in the music business – especially those of us who are actually trying to sell music – know that you can’t afford to ignore the present in favor of the indefinite future. You’d have to be an idiot not to make your music available in download form these days; you’d also have to be an idiot not to make your music available in CD form, too. Vinyl, on the other hand, is, as of now, utterly optional. Facts are facts.

  13. Adam Sheets
    August 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    I’ll admit that “dead” was the wrong choice of words, but looking at the numbers over the past decade to say it is “dying” is not an overstatement. And if a physical format is to exist in the future, it will be the one on the rise (vinyl), not the one on the decline (CD).

  14. Ken Morton, Jr.
    August 21, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Adam, that’s a tough argument to make that you’re suggesting that vinyl records will be the last remaining physical music media. It’s more expensive to produce, more expensive to package, more expensive to ship, more expensive to display and sell for retailers, easier to scratch/break, harder to find a place to play it and is less portable. Vinyl is fun. It’s very nostalgic- especially for generations X and older. But you and I are going to agree to disagree that it will be the last physical format standing.

  15. TX Music Jim
    August 21, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve noticed something at gigs lately bands are starting to have vinyl for sale at the merch booth along with cd’s. However, i’ve seen a few shows were thumb drives with a sound board recording of that nights show were available. So, as the format continues to change towards digital artists are starting to find ways to market towards the future while also selling product to the consumer using the format of the present.

  16. Donald
    August 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    vinyl vs CDs reminds me of the CD vs downloads arguments we participated in a few years back. I’m glad vinyl sales are increasing- in some areas, in some demographics, in some genres- but they can’t be compared to CD sales- they are in entirely different ledgers. How much does a typical vinyl album sell for in a bricks and mortar store in the US? In Canada, they are between $24 and $35. Unless it is something special- a true favourite artist with some wonderful packaging- I won’t be buying too many at those prices.
    Donald, who did buy Country Funk 1969-1975 on vinyl last week.

  17. Adam Sheets
    August 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Donald, it’s a supply and demand thing. As I think we can all agree with, vinyl still isn’t as popular as CDs (yet), which means they have to make as much money as possible from it and it costs more. But as for the Johnny Cash box set in question here, I have many of these albums on vinyl because there is a locally-owned shop around here where I bought them used for between one and three dollars. I could pick up the rest on eBay for less than 10 a piece, and probably less than 5 a piece if I look hard enough. It will sound better, look better, and will help out either a local business or a private individual (the eBay seller).

    Ken, I agree with you for the most part, but I think that everything you mentioned are the exact reasons vinyl will win out. More and more people today seem to be pushing for self-efficiency. These groups (not the majority as of right now) want a locally-made microbrew over Bud Light. They shop at the farmer’s market instead of Wal-Mart. And they would rather have a quality American-made product over a piece of cheap foreign-made plastic even if it costs more. This group isn’t the majority right now and probably never will be, but that doesn’t matter. The majority is abandoning CDs for mp3s, FLAC and iPods, leaving hipsters, audiophiles, and people like me as the only ones buying physical formats. And, as much as I hate saying I agree with hipsters, all three of those groups agree that we’d rather have vinyl.

  18. Rick
    August 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    All this fluff over vinyl vs CD vs downloads? Vinyl has been dead since the mid 1980’s and CDs are slowly on their way out but hopefully will remain available for new releases well into the future. All I want is high quality 328kps MP3’s available that have been recorded and produced well and sound as good as a CD track for a buck.

    If I were going to the Muddy Roots Festival, I’d really want one of Triggerman’s “field guides” to identify which artists to avoid! Hey Kyle, how about doing one for the Hardly Strictly Festival as well. Hmm…

    Good to read Willie’s back in action! The sea air at San Pedro’s Ports ‘O Call should be just what the doctor ordered! (lol)

  19. luckyoldsun
    August 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Sorry, but it’s nonsense to suggest that the Johnny Cash 63-cd box is deficient or superfluous because people can buy the music on vinyl.
    People do not want crates of old LP’s around their house.

    “Legacy” artists like Armstrong, Ella, Sinatra, and the Beatles have enjoyed great spikes in sales from having their old LP’s replicated in cute, comparatively miniature CD sets and Sony/Columbia’s has decided that Cash warrants that treatment. I happen to think they may be making a mistake, but it’s not because–as you seem to imply–his old lp’s have not all been destroyed.

  20. Adam Sheets
    August 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Sony decides almost 30 years after they fired him and after he’s no longer here to reap the benefits that he warrants that treatment? If I buy the albums used on vinyl, at least I know my money isn’t going to their pockets.

    Two things to keep in mind is that artists such as Cash and the others you mentioned recorded their music with the vinyl record and it’s listeners in mind and that no subsequent format has been able to replicate the sound of vinyl. So to really hear the artist’s vision for their own recorded music, there is only one format to choose from. Also keep in mind that, although this applies to all genres to some extant, the vast majority of country albums and country songs from prior to the 1980s have never received a digital or CD release so true fans have no option but to buy the LPs.

    As for people not wanting the LPs around the house, I can speak only for myself, but I’ve thrown out most of my CDs because they have absolutely no resale value and they looked exactly like they sound: cold and sterile. LPs, on the other hand, can double as art work and conversation pieces when not in use.

    In my view, the only reason to own a CD is if the album in question was not released on vinyl. And with more albums from the ’90s and 2000s receiving a vinyl release as well as most new releases worth their salt being released on the format, my CD purchases are becoming extremely rare indeed. The only reason I don’t buy digital downloads is that they have even less worth and less resale value.

  21. Paul W Dennis
    August 22, 2012 at 12:04 am

    As one who has crates of old vinyl LPs around the house (and at least 75 linear feet work of shelves full of LPs) I don’t think it is inconsistant to collect both vinyl and CD. Yes, the sound of vinyl is better if (a) the vinyl is kept clean and stored properly, and (b) was pressed on decent vinyl.

    Unfortunately some labels used second rate vinyl or had poor quality control (Motown seemingly used recycled automobile seat vinyl in making their albums). For many country albums, the CD release sounds better because of the poor quality of the initial vinyl pressing. As one who lived in England for a few years, I’ve found that the English and German pressings of a vinyl album were invariably better sounding than their American counterparts, as were most albums pressed in Japan.

    I really think Sony/Legacy would be well advised to break the set up into five or six smaller boxed set. I already have much of Cash’s career in various formats, so unless this 63 CD set is really cheap (ha !) I can’t see myself buying it, but there are pieces of his career I would like to obtain in digital format

    I’d rather have vinyl if the vinyl was well-pressed, but if it wasn’t, then I will settle for CD.

  22. Jon
    August 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

    “And they would rather have a quality American-made product over a piece of cheap foreign-made plastic…”

    Do you think that vinyl grows on trees?

  23. Adam Sheets
    August 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Jon, the majority of newly-pressed vinyl being made today is being produced in the United States. It is a high-quality product that actually has value, unlike the CD which costs almost nothing to produce and sounds like it.

  24. luckyoldsun
    August 22, 2012 at 11:19 am

    You may have room for 75 linear feet of old LP’s but most people don’t–Or, stereotypically, there’s a significant other (“wife”) who says “Either that stuff–(amps, preamps, subwoofers, wires, crates of records et al) goes, or I go.”)

    You have your thing for vinyl. Fine. But I don’t know why you’re using the occasion of this Johnny Cash box to argue it. Nobody would create a 63-lp JC box set because it would be unsellable–except to that contingent of weightlifters who are Johnny Cash junkies.

    By the way, what percentage of music listenters even own a working turntable (that’s actually hooked up to their music system?) I don’t know the answer, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s under 5%. Does anyone else have an answer or a guess?

  25. Adam Sheets
    August 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    The reason is that CDs are dying and sets such as this one and the 30-disc Elvis box set from a few years back are acts of desperation. They know that these sets will be commercial failures, but CDs still only cost a few cents to produce and no studio time was required to produce the set. So they can charge the die-hard fans hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a limited-run set like this and make a profit in no time. Up next you will see similar sets from Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Don’t expect to see one by Willie or Merle just yet, though, because the fact that they are living may cut into the conglomerate’s profits. I’m not buying into it. I can get all of these cheaper and they will sound and look better.

  26. Saving Country Music
    August 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    The problem here is Adam Sheets and his associates recent trend to use platitudes in lieu of true intellectualism. “Rock is dead.” “White people are taking over rap music.” “Legalize everything.” “CD’s are dead.”

    Of course CD’s aren’t dead, and thank goodness for that because if they were, the compressed world of MP3 would be even more dominant. I agree a 63-disc set seems a little excessive and impractical, but so does expecting Johnny Cash fans to get up every Saturday morning to hit garage sales and find Johnny Cash’s albums for a $1, or trek to the bohemian part of town to battle hipsters at a some grubby second-hand record store to find them for $7 to unlock the value of used vinyl Adam Sheets alludes to. New vinyl is much more expensive to manufacture, distribute, and ship, and is impossible for many bands to afford. I love hunting for records. I also understand I’m part of the 1% that does.

    Furthermore, as a reviewer, I would much rather review something on CD. The physical copy allows you to not lose it in a sea of emails and zipped files, and the sound quality is much better than MP3. MUCH better. And yes, they are more practical than vinyl records for taking in the car, etc. As much of a cheerleader as I am for the vinyl resurgence, the death of the CD would only mean further diminished audio quality, and so I can’t see why anybody would be in a rush to declare this, except that it makes a sexy headline.

  27. Adam Sheets
    August 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    The birth, not the death, of the CD meant further diminished audio quality. High-quality mp3s and especially formats like FLAC sound as good, if not better, than a CD. And they are far more portable. You can fit hundreds of albums on an iPod and it weighs less than a single CD. That’s what the majority of the people are switching to.

    Meanwhile, on an entirely different plane, audiophiles and hipsters have discovered that analog sounds better than digital and they (the last groups other than the senior citizens a comment above alluded to who are still buying physical formats) are buying more and more vinyl, both new and used (keep in mind that sales figures do not take used vinyl into account and that is where the majority of sales take place). This means that record labels cannot make money from the CD, as automobile manufacturers have already predicted, and vinyl will become the top-selling physical format.

  28. Jon
    August 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Adam, you didn’t answer my question, leaving me to wonder whether you really do think that vinyl grows on trees, or whether you sincerely believe that there is some kind of significant difference between the plastics used in making records and CDs.

  29. Adam Sheets
    August 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Is there a significant difference in the animals used to make McDonald’s hamburgers and steaks in a five-star restaurant? No. It’s the quality of the work and the superior process that makes a better product.

  30. Saving Country Music
    August 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    “audiophiles and hipsters have discovered that analog sounds better than digital”

    They haven’t “discovered” it, they’ve ALWAYS known that vinyl was a superior format. That is why they are hipsters and audiofiles to begin with. The only person who has recently discovered it is you, and so you are taking us on this somewhat adolescent, idealistic vinyl journey that most of us went through some time in high school or college.

    I love vinyl. It is the superior format without question, but as Jon pointed out, statistically it is far from becoming the dominant format. I actually do think the CD is dying, and there’s stats to back that up too. But to call it “dead” or to say the reason they are releasing a 63-disc set is out of desperation for the medium is a little ridiculous.

    The reason used vinyl sales are not counted is because they do not count. People buy used CD’s as well, and there are a hell of a lot more CD being made new than vinyl, meaning the used marked for CD’s is being replenished at a faster rate than vinyl, whose heyday was many years ago.

    ” This means that record labels cannot make money from the CD.” I read your comment, but don’t understand the logic you are using to come to that conclusion.

    This 63-CD set is a boutique product, not something we can use to draw a conclusion of society’s patterns. It’s anecdotal, like the $26 hot dog the Texas Rangers are selling. It neither means inflation has gotten out of control, or that we are such gluttons we demand huge, expensive hot dogs. It means a ballpark made an expensive hot dog as a bit to get people talking…and it worked.

  31. Mike McCall
    August 22, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Adam–You might want to look up articles on United Record Pressing in Nashville, one of the remaining pressing plants in the U.S., and one of the best in the world. For the last 15 years or so, they’ve made an effort to buy whatever pressing machines they can from other places that shut down, and they’ve taken every broken down machine they can find and have tried to fix it, because those massive and intricate machines won’t be manufactured again. You have to wonder how long into the future they will continue to function.

    Jon’s point about vinyl is a good one, and an even bigger limitation to mass-producing vinyl records comes with the machinery needed to do so. URP uses every machine they have, and occasionally run 24-hours-a-day to keep with demand. They can’t do much more than they do now.

    They also offers tours, and it’s damn impressive to follow the process through and see a record pressed. The most startling point in the process is the amount of energy and compression needed for the massive machine to press the grooves onto the vinyl. It’s like watching an old steam engine start pulling a train down the tracks. And just about as antiquated.

  32. Adam Sheets
    August 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Kyle, newness will always outweigh quality in the minds of the public. But once the newness wears off, they simply pick what’s best. The smoke has finally cleared from CDs and people have seen that they are a sham and an inferior product. I remember back when people were literally giving me records for free. Entire boxes of them. Today there are several shops in the nearest town that specialize in used vinyl. We’re talking about a town of 20,000. And I’ve learned to pick up anything I find interesting as soon as I see it because most of the time it won’t be there the next day. This is anecdotal, but the point is that we aren’t exactly known for being on top of the latest trends around here. Based on this and on what I’ve seen in other areas, I can only conclude that the vinyl resurgence is far greater than we’ve been told.

    Your point about used CDs is valid, but it’s very rare to find a used CD selling at anywhere near the value originally on the price sticker. I’ve seen them selling for as low as a quarter a piece. Likewise, digital downloads, no matter how high quality, are worth absolutely nothing the moment you’ve downloaded them. You can’t resale them and one click of a mouse will delete them permanently.

  33. Barry Mazor
    August 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    You’re not dealing with the unavoidable fact that for many who think vinyl is so “kewl,” it is new–and very likely a fad. Time will tll on that part..

    Also, when exactly did “resale value” come to be a measure of subjective recording quality? The sales figures suggest that few people under 35 or so buy much physical music altogether;if anybody thinks mp3s are “quality” sound,s good for them, but the more persuasive case is that an awful lot of consumers simply value convenience over sound quality altogether.

  34. luckyoldsun
    August 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Do people who buy vinyl necessarily listen to it?
    I think a lot of them collect the records and listen to the music on digital. The turntables that I’ve seen for sale recently have digital outputs and are promoted as devices for making digital copies of the records.

  35. Adam Sheets
    August 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Barry, you’re right that vinyl is new to many buying it today and that time will tell. But I think we can predict what will happen based on that. For one, if the entire vinyl resurgence could be chalked up to either nostalgia or newness, we’d be seeing just as much of a resurgence in eight-tracks, Betamax, and transistor radios. Vinyl obviously has something that sets it apart and it is that rare and out-of-print records have been collected for over 100 years. In that time countless formats have come and gone and each generation has discovered vinyl and made it new again. As long as people continue having children, we don’t have to worry about that changing.

    As for resale value, it isn’t a direct measure of sound quality. Instead it’s a measure of what something is actually worth to somebody other than the original buyer. Let’s say you bought an LP for $5 back in the day and you don’t want it around. You can put it on eBay right now and get three or four times that on average, and sometimes even more. If you paid the full price for a CD, you will be taking a loss but you still may get 1/10th of what you paid for it. Now let’s say you download an album on iTunes for their average price of $9.99 (without cover art and liner notes). If you don’t like it, you’re only option is to delete it and admit that you threw away 10 bucks. Somebody told me once that they realized that CDs were worthless when they realized they could make their own with a computer. This is even more true of digital downloads.

  36. nm
    August 23, 2012 at 11:33 am

    “Is there a significant difference in the animals used to make McDonald’s hamburgers and steaks in a five-star restaurant? No.”

    You are soooo not a foodie. The entire farm-to-table movement is based on the fact that there is such a difference.


  37. Adam Sheets
    August 23, 2012 at 11:50 am

    NM, that is exactly why it is a perfect analogy. A cow is a cow. How it is raised is up to the farmer and how it is prepared for the consumer (artificial preservatives or not, processed or not, etc) is up to the food packagers, supermarkets, restaurants, etc. The meat you can get for $1 at McDonald’s could have potentially been a steak in a five-star restaurant had the right amount of work been applied and the correct processes used.

    Now take vinyl vs. CDs. CDs are cheaper. They cost a few cents to make and are mostly made in foreign countries where there is no minimum wage. So the corporations get their money back in no time. The vinyl is harder to produce, takes skilled labor, and is more expensive (at least for new vinyl), but if you want true quality you’re going to pick the steak over the Big Mac.

  38. nm
    August 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    You do know that there are any number of breeds of cattle, right? And that the breeds McDonalds buys have been bred to have a certain type and amount of flesh, and to be able to withstand certain living conditions, with little consideration of taste? 5-star restaurants buy beef from other breeds of cattle, that would taste very different from McDonalds’s breeds even if they were treated exactly the same. And vice versa — all the beer and massage in the world won’t get a McDonalds cow to taste like wagyu. I don’t particularly care about the vinyl vs. digital argument going on here, but your metaphor isn’t all that great.

  39. Jon
    August 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I do believe that this is the first time I’ve seen the argument made that vinyl records are a superior format for encoding music because the quality of the plastic used to make them. Cows are the same, plastic pellets aren’t. Sheesh.

  40. Jon
    August 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    “Vinyl obviously has something that sets it apart and it is that rare and out-of-print records have been collected for over 100 years.”

    Do you think that records have been made out of vinyl for over 100 years? They haven’t.

    And, by the way, note that rare and out-of-print piano rolls have been collected for even longer. Based on this particular hare-brained argument for vinyl, that makes them even stronger candidates for physical format of the future.

  41. Adam Sheets
    August 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    You’re missing the point once again, Jon. It has nothing to do with the quality of the plastics. It’s the quality of the work and the superior process, not the raw materials.

    Interesting about the piano rolls, but they are unlikely to become the dominant physical format in the future due to the limited number of titles one can choose from in the format and it’s inability to reproduce vocal music. I’m sure that there is a collector’s market for piano rolls, just as there is a collector’s market for eight-tracks, but the difference is that it’s just that: a collector’s market. Records have been the main musical format for the majority of the last 100 years. While there is a collector’s market for them, their main demographic have always been your average music fan, not collectors.

  42. Barry Mazor
    August 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Yeah and snail mail with some nice note paper was the main letter writing form for the past hundred years.
    So what?

  43. Adam Sheets
    August 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    The point is simple. Much like CDs, snail mail isn’t on the rise over the past decade.

  44. luckyoldsun
    August 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    When it comes to manufacturing and economics, I think you have a lot of…let’s say…misconceptions.

    The reason that “vinyl” may be expensive to manufacture is that it’s such a niche product with so little demand that it has to be made in small quantities, so per-unit costs are high.

    I don’t know whether you know this, but when the CD was introduced in the ’80s, it was a premium product, sold at a substantially higher price point than vinyl lp’s. The record companies,to the extent that they had to, justified the higher price by pointing out that CD’s cost more to manufacture because of the various coatings and metals that go into digital discs. Whether that was true or not doesn’t much matter. The real reason that CD’s sold for more than lp’s is that the consumer perceived it as a superior product–more convenience and better sound–and was willing to pay a higher price for it.

  45. Jon
    August 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    “It has nothing to do with the quality of the plastics.”

    Exactly. Which is why your statement about how people would “…rather have a quality American-made product over a piece of cheap foreign-made plastic…” made no sense.

    “It’s the quality of the work and the superior process, not the raw materials.”

    The quality of what work? As many times as you’ve yammered about digital vs. analog, you don’t seem to understand what they actually are. The physical formats themselves aren’t comparable; when it comes to manufacturing, talking about the “quality of work” and “superior process” is just plain gibberish.

    By the way, did you read Michael’s post about URP? Ever been there? I have. When he talks about “antiquated,” he’s right on the money.

    ” Records have been the main musical format for the majority of the last 100 years.”

    Nice to see that you’ve at least replaced “vinyl” with “records,” and dropped the “people have been buying vinyl for 100 years” nonsense. Have you ever listened to a 45 record? A pre-vinyl 78? A cylinder? Do you believe those formats to have been superior to CDs?

    The fact is that digital downloads – along with physical devices to play them, whether that’s in the home, the car, at work or anywhere else – will eventually be the main musical format for the majority (unless something even more convenient and inexpensive comes along). Not vinyl. So what was your point?

  46. Adam Sheets
    August 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Labels charged more for CDs initially because they were nothing more than an experiment and with no way of knowing if it would be a success or not they had to make as much as possible from each CD sold. Come to think of it, they’ve come full circle in that regard. As for CDs being more expensive to produce, that’s just typical advertising. However, CDs did probably cost more to produce before the jobs were sent overseas than they do now.

    The way I see thing heading right now, vinyl will indeed be the last physical format standing. With the majority switching to downloads due to the improved convenience, there is little use for CDs. I believe it was you who mentioned senior citizens opposed to downloads as an example of why CDs would stay around. I say labels don’t particularly care about that demographic as much as they do the vinyl-loving hipsters and audiophiles. After all, senior citizens know how to use a turntable and probably only abandoned them when they were forced to by the labels. It will be easier to sell them records again than it will be to sell a CD to somebody who knows better.

  47. Adam Sheets
    August 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Jon, I do think 45s and 78s are better formats than CDs, as is reel-to-reel tape. As for cylinders, I haven’t heard one in action, but I can’t imagine them sounding any worse than a digital transfiguration of a wax cylinder.

    The superior process and quality of work are both easy to understand as well. In pressing plants people get paid more than a few cents a day. They have an incentive to deliver good work. And the process is that CDs have a limited range of sound. A CD is made on a computer and it’s tracks are digital images of a sound. The record is the recording itself and it’s full sound range pressed onto a record. That the process behind making a record is an improvement on that of a CD should go without saying.

    All Mike’s post said was how much vinyl is in demand right now with the plant often being in operation 24 hours a day.

    I said from the beginning of this discussion that digital downloads will become the dominant top format and probably already is in the eyes of many. The issue is the top physical format. And based on trends and the demographics who still buy physical formats, I am very comfortable saying that vinyl’s future is much brighter than that of the CD.

  48. luckyoldsun
    August 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    “Labels charged more for CDs initially because they were nothing more than an experiment and with no way of knowing if it would be a success or not they had to make as much as possible from each CD sold.”

    Would that businesses had the power to operate that way!

    Labels charged more for CD’s (not just initially, but permanently–until the demise of lp’s and cassettes as standard formats) because the market perceived the CD as a superior product and consumers were willing to pay a premium price for it.

  49. Adam Sheets
    August 23, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    The market doesn’t perceive anything without first being fed propaganda by the corporations and advertising agencies. Most people would argue that mp3s do not sound as good as CDs. Yet digital downloads are King. Is it because “the market perceived mp3s as a superior product”? No, it’s because it’s new and it’s what all the cool kids listen to. The same goes for CDs back in the ’80s.

  50. Jon
    August 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    “I am very comfortable saying that vinyl’s future is much brighter than that of the CD.”

    And right where you offered up the idea that the 78 is a “better format” than the CD is where I found myself very comfortable saying that you’re spouting a good deal of gibberish, leavened by only an occasional factoid and an even more occasional actual insight.

  51. Adam Sheets
    August 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    It is a better format as far as sound quality is concerned. As for it’s time restraints, it’s a tough call. I do think that a CD’s 80 minute running time often proves to be a temptation and is one of the format’s greatest flaws. I’ve rarely found a classic album with a running time of more than 45-50 minutes. So at least with a 78 I don’t have to worry about getting bored 16 or 17 songs in.

  52. Jon
    August 23, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    “Most people would argue that mp3s do not sound as good as CDs.”

    Surveyed them, have?

    It’s arguably true, based on their buying habits, that most people would argue that mp3s – or, really, .aac’s – sound good enough. Which isn’t the same thing.

  53. Adam Sheets
    August 23, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Jon, I’ve never heard somebody compare the mp3 favorably to any other audio format. Have you? I don’t think we need a survey. Do you happen to have a survey proving my statement incorrect?

    As for sounding good enough, that’s not an issue. Eight-tracks sounded terrible, but they sold in great quantities for a decade or more. Was it because they sounded good enough or was it because it was the new/cool thing to do?

  54. sunsetpark
    August 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Eight-tracks worked for awhile because people realized they could be thrown on the floor, or the floor of the car, be stepped on, and still work – convenience wins vs sound quality quite often. Other times cool factor or great marketing wins – there is no one determining factor in what the public will buy into. If there was, it would be much easier to create and sell successful products and history wouldn’t be littered with failures.
    Adam, I think sooner or later, like it or not, you are going to have to at least acknowledge that you aren’t changing the minds of anyone arguing with you. These are opinions, not facts.

  55. Jon
    August 23, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    The eight-track tape was popular because it was the first format that let you buy music and play it in your car. Nothing to do with “new” or “cool” per se. Then the cassette came along and that pretty much put an end to eight-tracks, because they were smaller, easier to use and didn’t sound any worse – at least, not in your car.

    I think most people probably don’t have an opinion about whether mp3s – or any other digital format – sound better than CDs. And, in point of fact, you can find lots of people who argue that 320k mp3s are indistinguishable from CDs in many contexts. Just poke around the internet for a few minutes.

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