Wednesday, July 07, 2004

THEY'RE TRYING TO HIDE THE MILKMAN OF HUMAN KINDNESS FROM YOU, YOU KNOW: We were slightly brought up short while reading The Register's analysis of why the CD isn't dead to see this really odd bit about the way Apple lets you choose which tracks you want:

"But music lovers have a relationship primarily with the artist - a very strong relationship - and sometimes with a record label, if it's seen to embody the values of the artistic community. Motown, Blue Note, Stax and Factory are all good examples of the latter. Fans loyalty to artist and label can survive those duff tracks and albums that they occasionally release - the ones Apple doesn't want you to hear. But certainly not the music store they got it from, or the machine that delivers it. (Apple fanatics and techno-utopians have deep and meaningful relationships with the machine in front of them, of course, but the figures we cite prove that these aren't enough, and they're certainly vastly out numbered by people with a cooler perspective). If in doubt, ask yourself how many people you see wearing a Virgin Megastore T-shirt in public."

First of all, yes, people do have very deep affections for labels, and it will lead them to forgive the odd rubbish track or the occasional poor album. But if you'd given even the most adrent Factory lover the chance to just have My Rising Star and leave the rest of Northside's Chicken Rhythms in the shop, they would have chewed your hand off. Likewise, just because people used to have a deep and abiding affection for Creation Records, that didn't mean they trooped down to the store whenever Ed Ball stuck a record out. It's not even as if Apple is trying to stop anyone from hearing Endless Road when they try to buy Ride's Carnival of Light - it's there, if anyone wants it; you don't get a little pop-up window saying "Sorry, this track is rubbish; pelase choose again."

More to the point: you might not see people wearing Virgin Megastore tshirts (apart, of course, from the store's staff), but it's plainly bollocks to suggest that people don't have a loyalty to their record shops. People who shop at Asda for Avril Lavigne CDs might not be bothered, but the sweet intesity with which people regularly queue up to be snorted at by the staff of Probe in Liverpool, the happy nostalgic pool of joy felt when you meet someone else who loved Whiplash in the same city, even the way I dragged my then fiancee up a backstreet to show her Brighton's Rounder records - all of that suggests the exact opposite to be the case.


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