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ARSCLIST  February 2007

ARSCLIST February 2007

Subject:

Re: interesting!

From:

"Steven C. Barr(x)" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 7 Feb 2007 22:14:25 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (95 lines)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Karl Miller" <[log in to unmask]>
>   It seems to me that record companies need to concern themselves more with
marketing and libraries should focus on the preservation of our intellectual
history. I also wonder if record companies should focus more on making history
available, for I cannot help but think that there might be more of a niche
market for those old scratchy records than they might have thought there was.
Well probably not since the marketing of music, both classical and popular,
seems to have the performer as its primary focus.I remember how quickly after
his passing, the recordings of the great pianist William Kapell disappeared from
the catalog. Once a musician is gone, they become part of a niche
market...perhaps a market for those who are more interested in the music than
the personality. I wonder how different the business of music would be if the
marketing was based on the quality and content of the music...I know, a bad
idea.
>
First...record companies:

They seem to be permanently locked into the world they once lived in!
The demographic to which they market (and have marketed since the
"swing era!") is YOUNG people (with the age steadily dropping over
the decades)...and the quantities in which they prefer to sell are
in the "gold record"...now "PLATINUM record" category of numbers!

Two things happened. First, "pop music" fragmented completely. From
c.1936 to c.1942, they sold "Swing"...from c.1954 to c.1962 "Rock'n'Roll"...
and in later years "Rock." Oh, they had niche markets...country, race,
"easy listening" and some classical...but those were treated as
"side issues" since they had small, but steady sales. These days, there
is NO single format which enjoys...or CAN enjoy...the kind of sales
figures they dream of! Even "Urban Dance" exists in a dozen or more
sub-forms.

Then, recording went digital. The young people, who were often
"techies," quickly figured out that one could make identical copies
of commercial records using only his/her/its computer...buying new
releases was no longer necessary. So far, the industry has figured
out no long-term way to stop this...worse yet, their attempts have
turned many of their potential customers against them!

So...the days of "Thriller"-level sales numbers are long gone...and
the industry no longer has the infinitely-wise A&R people who can
pull off coups like hiring Elvis! However, they seem to be VERY
slow to realize this!

Second, libraries:

Again, as you note, the folks in charge of them seem to be locked
into a fast-fading past...quite possibly because their positions
(and status and income) came from taking course after course in
"Library Science"...which taught them, mainly, one thing...how
to acquire, catalog, shelve, store, lend out, promote, what have
you...BOOKS! Yes...printed, bound collections of paper pages...
which, although they are interesting as artifacts, take up a LOT
of space (unlike digital ones and zeroes...!)

The last sales flyer I got in my daily paper...from a local
computer assembler....now offers one TERABYTE of storage as
a standard feature. I suspect this might accomodate every
published book that has ever existed (don't ask me to do
the furshlugginer data entry...!) or come close!

I agree (being a nut on history and artifacts, as my 40,000-odd
78's prove) that we need to construct some sort of facility where
every existing information-related object (books, newspapers,
magazines, recordings, photographs, possibly even all the odds
and ends we accumulate like notes and wothaveya...) can be
stored under ideal preservation conditions.

Having done that, our next step should be to convert all of
this material to digital form...text files, scanned images,
sound files, usw. This could then be stored on an array of
computers (the above 1TB machines cost about $Cdn1,000 or
slightly less per each)...and networks connected to this
"ultimate data mine." Once questions of copyright and
income are settled (if ever...?) this could be made Internet-
accessible. Thus, EVERY fact for which a physical record still
exists would be available to everyone with access to a computer!
While it would logically seem that there would HAVE to be a way
of limiting access (say, to plans for nuclear weapons, or to
the password to your bank account...) there is still a LOT of
information in the world that can ONLY be accessed physically
(and, often, has been long since lost!).

For example, I'm trying to trace my ancestry on my paternal side.
I would guess that some of the data I need was in Clinton (Ill's.)
newspapers in the mid-to-late 19th century; however, it seems the
only way to verify that (and access the data, should it exist) is
to physically travel there!

Possibly only to hear "Oh, we got rid of all those old newspapers
a long time ago...we needed more space for current novels..."?!?!

Steven C. Barr

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