Sunday, November 30, 2008

Plastic or Download?

Speaking of things becoming obsolete in my previous post about magazines (assuming you are viewing this chronogically) reminded me of something I've been meaning to post since about, oh, mid-August or so. Man alive, I have to stop neglecting this little slice of 'net...

I read a statistic recently to the effect that a song is downloaded for free 20 times for every time it is purchased. I don't know if purchasing includes both download and CD, but it is nonetheless a telling stat.

Much like the various forms of reading material discussed earlier, I still prefer to have the real thing on hand. While downloading is obviously "cleaner", I still buy compact discs and will for as long as I am able to. I like having that safety net in case my computer crashes and I lose everything.

This is particulary true because I can not transfer my ITunes files to my MP3 player. Some combination of exclusive deals between all the various companies prevents it. So it's not as though I could transfer and be confident that at least I'll have the music in that format if my computer goes Max Headroom on me.

So still being a CD consumer, and needing to make a trip to Calgary this past August, I wanted some "fresh new spins" (that's DJ talk. Or maybe it's just the one clown on a local radio station trying to sound cool) for the plane ride. I took a stroll over to HMV and left with three new records. Yay!

While sitting in my 40-foot limo on the way home, I noticed something written on my HMV plastic bag. It said...

Once discarded in landfill sites, the exposure to sunlight, oxygen and heat will convert the plastic in this bag into water, carbon dioxide, mineral salt and biomass. Like a fallen leaf it will disappear over time and leave no harmful residue in the soil.

This message was brought to you by EPI Environmental Technology. I would like a clearer definition of "over time", mind you, but still. I like knowing that this is out there, if their claims are legit.

Assuming they are, I would like to see the EPI logo on all grocery store bags as well. We do try to bring our own bags with us when grocery shopping but occasionally forget, or make an unscheduled stop and don't have them on hand. While still not great, this would be...huh...less bad, I guess. I suspect that people who avoid using plastic bags are still very much a minority so perhaps having this specific kind more commonly available would helps significantly.

As far as downloading goes, I am not opposed to it. Far from it. I am all in favour for reasons other than (but in addition to) the environmental aspect.

I have been interested in music since I was about ten. I used to wake up to Sweet's Ballroom Blitz, played from a borrowed eight-track. I'm sure my folks loved that.

And though never a fan of theirs by any stretch, I recall air-guitaring to Kiss' I Love it Loud. Yikes...

Can't go wrong with those genius lyrics...

A memory from earlier still is asking my mum to play The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace repeatedly.

I was basically a toddler. Not exactly a song for a four-year old but it should be pointed out that I didn't speak English back then. Thankfully, otherwise, I might have turned out like John Gotti. Or Vanilla Ice.

In any event, I love music, but I hate the music business. Aside from frequently hearing about bands being screwed over on record deals, I've often felt the same was being done to me.

I'm the obsessive collector type, so when I get into something, I'm a completist; I need to have and know everything. Nothing insults me more, as a music fan, than a "best of" album with two "previously unreleased tracks" included.

Ah, thank you so much for abusing my loyalty. Please picture me with an extended middle finger as I guiltlessly (is that a word? It really should be...) download the two tracks that were not previously deemed good enough for any of the band's studio albums.

Better still is the so-called deluxe edition of records that are the exact same album with perhaps an extra CD with a few live tracks or some such. It's usually released 1-3 months after the...huh...ordinary edition. Of course, being a fan, I bought the original almost right away. So now I would have to pay full price for the extra material and a batch of duplicates.

So while I don't like to see bands suffer from their material being traded freely, I take some joy in knowing that the music industry is scrambling. And I believe (and hope) that before long record companies will be obsolete, or at least drastically reduced in number.

It's always been my understanding that bands make their money from touring, not from record sales, so if more of them are able to continue to be successful without having to deal with the business side of it, more power to them.

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