I’m of the mindset that to be a good blogger you have to read good blogs. I try to do this and think I do a good job. The best part is that every now and again I’ll come across a blog that inspires me to write my own post, like this one that the Dead Kennedy’s shared a few weeks ago on Facebook (http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/music-experiences-you-never-thought-youd-miss-but-you-do).
It got me thinking about life, the universe and everything. But then I stopped and started to think about what’s happening to the physical CD stores now that everyone is so madly in love with Spotify. What would the film “High Fidelity” be like if made in 2013?
I know the main way Spotify has changed my record buying habits is to make me much, much pickier. I can guarantee I would have bought Soundgarden’s “King Animal” if it weren’t for Spotify. I was teetering on Staind’s self-titled 2011 release because “Not Again” was an awesome tune, but after listening to the entire album I decided it wasn’t worth the money. And I’m sure Spotify would have saved me a lot of money if I’d been able to listen to albums by bands like Our Lady Peace and Default before I bought them. Sure, that one Earshot song was bad ass, but the entire album sounded exactly the same and it got boring really quick.
Of course, if it weren’t for Spotify I never would have bought In This Moment’s “Blood,” an album that I’m extremely pleased with and still enjoy. Then again, I downloaded it from Amazon so that sort of skips the High Fidelity aspect of the experience. But it was that, Walmart or FYE in the mall. My choices are limited and though I may not have chosen the least of three evils, I did choose the cheapest.
I’m sure that all of these technological breakthroughs are hurting the sales of physical CD’s, but I doubt that it’s doing more damage than the opening of public libraries did to bookstores. I’m sure there will always be a market for the items, but just like I don’t buy every new book that comes out, I no longer have to purchase every album I want to listen to. I still buy albums by my favorite bands like GWAR, Alice in Chains and Fiona Apple (and have a friend that buys EVERYTHING from Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Bad Religion and NOFX), but why waste money on something I only casually listen to.
There are still ways to get people to buy an album. I’m not sure if people realize what they are, but to me they’re common sense.
- Be original. Or be another Faith No More. Either way, you have a market because you’re unique.
- Be Shuffle/Mixtape friendly. I love albums, but I’ve been listening to all sorts of stuff thanks to shuffle on my MP3 player.
- Be Identifiable. Make it so people know their listening to you without them having to check.
- Bribe college professors to make your album required listening. If college kids have to buy your album from the campus bookstore you’re definitely going to make a lot of money.
- Make sure you don’t have all your songs available for free download on Soundcloud or Reverbnation because if you do I’ll never buy your album from Bandcamp.
I’m not sure what will happen to one hit wonders in this future age of Spotify and browse before you buy. I’ll never buy another UPO or Catherine Wheel disc, and I’m glad that I no longer have to buy CD’s from bands at shows and can instead just check out their Facebook and maybe buy an album from Bandcamp.
I just hope there aren’t a bunch of future Justin Beiber’s and Miley Cyrus’s that keep acting kooky and somehow get people to pay attention to them despite (or perhaps because of) their horrible music. Sure, I’m guilty of having the hots for Miley, but I didn’t buy her album.
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy “Thoughts on the Digital Music Revolution.”