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ARSCLIST  February 2016

ARSCLIST February 2016

Subject:

Re: The new normal - "hits" are hard to come by, the vinyl niche continues to thrive

From:

John Haley <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 3 Feb 2016 16:26:07 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (350 lines)

Not just an opinion.  Simple fact.  Claiming the vinyl is better is like
denying climate change.

Best,
John Haley

On Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 4:18 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hi John,
>
> My point was exactly your point. The sound quality of lousy-sounding CDs
> and hi-rez have nothing to do with the technology or format, as I said in
> my original posting. I also said, the better sounding LP is the state of
> the art until a better-sounding digital version comes out. Given today's
> economics of the reissue business, that is not likely in many cases. I
> don't agree that vinyl "loses" any "battle" since listening enjoyment is
> very subjective. All of the LPs I've overseen are made from the same
> sources as the digital (ie the digital master files). Some people have
> expressed a very strong preferences for LP. They like the sound of that
> media on their playback system. The problem I have with your OPINION is
> that "better" is just that, an opinion. You prefer the sound of digital,
> others prefer analog playback. Fortunately, there is a thriving niche
> market for those who prefer vinyl. I am happy about anything that is
> profitable to those in a position to fund reissues of great music.
>
> -- Tom Fine
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2016 3:17 PM
>
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The new normal - "hits" are hard to come by, the
> vinyl niche continues to thrive
>
>
> The solution to all of this discussion is simple.  We should be cutting an
> optimal digital signal into shellac records for the long term.  ☺  We don't
> even need a wide frequency response to carry the digital signal.
>
> Tom, with all due respect I think your comments about liking the
> engineering on some LP's better than their CD or hi-def counterparts is off
> point.  That really has nothing to do with the format and everything to do
> with the human fallibility that goes into making all of these things.  If
> the same audio product is pressed into vinyl and put on CD or a hi-def
> format, the vinyl is going to lose that battle every time.  Vinyl is just a
> fad based more on nostalgia than anything else.  I, for one, will be glad
> when it passes.
>
> Best,
> John
>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 2:49 PM, Dave Burnham <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> Tom is correct; 78s can't possibly have the same hi-end content as LPs
>> because of the limitation caused by speed vs. stylus size. However in my
>> own experience, I have tens of thousands of 78s stored in out door units
>> which endure the temperature extremes of South Ontario, (winter lows below
>> minus 20 degrees C.(0 degrees F.) and summer highs over 30 degrees C. (90
>> degrees F.) and beyond, without any apparent deterioration over many
>> years;
>> however I never bring records inside from deep freeze to indoor warmth,
>> but
>> a fellow collector, (David Lennick), told me that that's even an
>> unnecessary precaution, that he does it all the time without a problem.
>>
>> db
>>
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>
>> > On Feb 3, 2016, at 1:54 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> >
>> > 78s are quite brittle and breakable, so long-lasting only if carefully
>> stored and used. And, no offense to any of the fans on list here, but they
>> are hardly high fidelity to their source. Everything from the recording
>> system (frequency-limited, essentially no top end, very high noise floor,
>> most of this caused by the cutting elements and methods because Nick Bergh
>> has demonstrated that what hit the cutterhead was actually pretty high
>> fidelity although treble-lacking, as early as the early 1930s) to the
>> release medium (commercial shellac was almost always very noisy, variable
>> from unbearably noisy to too noisy for comfortable listening) were stacked
>> against high fidelity. LPs got closer, especially as the technology
>> evolved
>> (less distortion in the cutting chains, quieter vinyl compounds).
>> >
>> > As one who has had a hand in selecting content for modern LP reissue
>> projects, and approved test pressings, I can say that the quality level of
>> both the cutting and pressing is very impressive. It's still a craft, but
>> I'm happy to say there are craftsmen out there, here and now.
>> >
>> > Because it's a luxury-priced niche, much more attention CAN be paid at
>> the factory (but not always is) to matters like plating and pressing
>> quality, vinyl compounds and sleeve printing. It's not a mass medium like
>> days of yore, so it doesn't need to be manufactured to the most cost-cut
>> point to be competitive. I maintain that many buyers of modern vinyl are
>> buying a physical artifact, something consider beautiful and collectable,
>> and that is why they niche will remain healthy. The mass market either
>> wants to pay nothing for music, or wants to pay very little for something
>> that is very convenient and instantaneous, which is why vinyl will always
>> be a niche. What has made me happy in the past decade or so is that the
>> niche has emerged as big enough to be viable and have some economies of
>> scale. The fact that new and refurb presses are still coming on-line, and
>> the fact that I know there is a 3-month wait to get something pressed in
>> any quantity right now, tells me the niche is very healthy and the economy
>> has room to scale up a little bit (but not overbuild). I also know that
>> the
>> really good cutting engineers are booked months ahead too.
>> >
>> > As for the usual disdain about the low-tech nature of LP records vs a
>> modern digital chain, my ears tell me all I need to know. If more CDs and
>> other digital products sounded better, I'd be standing in the back row,
>> hook-horns raised, in agreement. But, alas, too many CDs, especially
>> remasters of content originally put out on LP, sound awful. That's not the
>> fault of the technology, but it is the state of the art for at least those
>> albums, since one can't buy a better-sounding product except the LP. When
>> there is a better-sounding CD or high-rez digital alternative, I favor
>> that
>> as my listening source.
>> >
>> > -- Tom Fine
>> >
>> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Chris Bishop" <
>> [log in to unmask]>
>> > To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> > Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2016 12:55 PM
>> > Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The new normal - "hits" are hard to come by, the
>> vinyl niche continues to thrive
>> >
>> >
>> >> 78s weren't ever pure shellac, which is too brittle, there were all
>> kinds
>> >> of fillers in them, like later vinyl records. Many post-war 78s were
>> made
>> >> with vinyl compounds. But I'm sure the best shellac discs hold up very
>> >> well.
>> >>
>> >> Properly-produced vinyl is a very stable medium and a cheap material
>> too. I
>> >> don't know how long a record could remain an accurate document sitting
>> on a
>> >> library shelf - a few hundred years, a thousand? Maybe archives should
>> >> purchase some lathes and start training people to master and cut vinyl.
>> It
>> >> may be a better option than digital for long-term preservation - or at
>> >> least the best physical backup available.
>> >>
>> >> Artists who record digitally and upload to bandcamp or soundcloud will
>> more
>> >> likely than not have their music be inaccessible in a hundred years,
>> while
>> >> those who produce vinyl albums or singles, whatever the aural
>> shortcomings,
>> >> will see theirs survive.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>> On Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 12:32 PM, Frank Strauss <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>> Diamond Disks!
>> >>>
>> >>> On Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 11:41 AM, Chris Bishop <[log in to unmask]
>> >
>> >>> wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>> > Most people don't even want downloads let alone CDs. So in that
>> sense
>> >>> vinyl
>> >>> > is as doomed as every other physical medium.
>> >>> >
>> >>> > But I disagree that vinyl is a dead medium at this time. The DJ
>> scene is
>> >>> > stronger than ever in every genre.
>> >>> >
>> >>> > Records produced 50 or 60 years ago can be pulled off the shelf,
>> cleaned
>> >>> > and played with almost no deterioration from age. What medium is
>> more
>> >>> > stable in average storage conditions?
>> >>> >
>> >>> > Chris
>> >>> >
>> >>> >
>> >>> >
>> >>> > On Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 11:28 AM, John Haley <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>> >>> >
>> >>> > > It's the old question--do you want fame or money?  Many "artists"
>> of
>> >>> > today
>> >>> > > apparently keep their day jobs and go for fame by giving it away,
>> >>> > thinking
>> >>> > > fortune will follow.  Seems like it seldom does, and this has very
>> >>> little
>> >>> > > to do with basic talent.  It's a recipe for a lousy pop music
>> world,
>> >>> > which
>> >>> > > to my ancient ears is just what is happening.  Meanwhile any
>> third-rate
>> >>> > pop
>> >>> > > artist from the past can sell out a hall today.   Thank goodness
>> they
>> >>> are
>> >>> > > there.
>> >>> > >
>> >>> > > As for vinyl, it's a blip and a fad.  If it gets people listening
>> who
>> >>> > > otherwise wouldn't be, then fine, I like it, but we who ought to
>> know
>> >>> > > better mustn't kid ourselves.  As a format, vinyl is a dead one,
>> and it
>> >>> > > deserves to be.  Of course I'm not tossing out my record
>> collection,
>> >>> but
>> >>> > as
>> >>> > > a person who restores old records in modern formats, I have no
>> >>> nostalgic,
>> >>> > > romantic illusions about vinyl's supposed virtues.  If people are
>> happy
>> >>> > > listening to it, then be happy and go for it. But as "audio
>> people"
>> >>> let's
>> >>> > > not go fooling ourselves.
>> >>> > >
>> >>> > > Best,
>> >>> > > John Haley
>> >>> > >
>> >>> > >
>> >>> > >
>> >>> > >
>> >>> > >
>> >>> > > On Wed, Feb 3, 2016 at 9:09 AM, Tom Fine <
>> [log in to unmask]>
>> >>> > > wrote:
>> >>> > >
>> >>> > > > Interesting stats from Nielsen:
>> >>> > > >
>> >>> > > >
>> >>> > >
>> >>> >
>> >>>
>>
>> http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/22/10816404/2015-album-sales-trends-vinyl-catalog-streaming
>> >>> > > >
>> >>> > > > Soundscan does not pick up the whole market, but the trends seem
>> >>> > > credible.
>> >>> > > > Interesting that Adele fans are also vinyl fans in such a
>> pronounced
>> >>> > > way. I
>> >>> > > > wonder if the back-catalog trend was just a blip because so much
>> of
>> >>> it
>> >>> > is
>> >>> > > > now in print either as downloads or physical media, just about
>> every
>> >>> > > > "golden age" audiophile favorite is not out in new-remaster
>> vinyl,
>> >>> and
>> >>> > > what
>> >>> > > > CDs are left in the pipeline are heavily discounted. But, that
>> said,
>> >>> > the
>> >>> > > > market to create great new music is not really there -- artists
>> make
>> >>> > more
>> >>> > > > just touring and releasing a song here and there via download or
>> >>> video
>> >>> > > > streams. So why get in a studio and create great art? There was
>> also
>> >>> an
>> >>> > > > interesting interview in the latest issue of TapeOp magazine
>> with the
>> >>> > > > Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree. One thing they said
>> that
>> >>> stuck
>> >>> > > in
>> >>> > > > my mind is that there is a penalty today for taking the time to
>> write
>> >>> > > > great, meaningful lyrics. The music-buying public wants catchy
>> >>> phrases
>> >>> > > and
>> >>> > > > well-worn stereotype statements set to music, they want simple
>> >>> ditties,
>> >>> > > and
>> >>> > > > simple sells.
>> >>> > > >
>> >>> > > > This report looks at unit sales for the first half of 2015:
>> >>> > > >
>> >>> > > >
>> >>> > >
>> >>> >
>> >>>
>>
>> http://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/us-album-sales-fall-4-in-first-half-of-2015-as-cd-rules-market-just/
>> >>> > > > The problem that isn't documented in unit sales is that
>> copyright
>> >>> > owners,
>> >>> > > > artists and everyone else with a stake in making quality music
>> get
>> >>> > > pennies
>> >>> > > > on the dollar from these streaming services, and that's the main
>> >>> growth
>> >>> > > > area as far as consumer uptake (yes, the vinyl niche is
>> thriving, but
>> >>> > > it's
>> >>> > > > a tiny niche compared to overall music sales, and does not
>> produce
>> >>> > enough
>> >>> > > > revenue to float any artist or major copyright owner). I think
>> it was
>> >>> > > very
>> >>> > > > foolish for the record companies to surrender to streamers on
>> the
>> >>> > cheap.
>> >>> > > > They should be charging royalties like radio, plus a download
>> fee,
>> >>> and
>> >>> > > the
>> >>> > > > streamers should be forced into a model where everyone who
>> streams
>> >>> > pays a
>> >>> > > > monthly fee. Most of the streaming is freebie streaming, and
>> that
>> >>> just
>> >>> > > > doesn't produce enough revenue. If I were an artists, I'd say
>> you get
>> >>> > > > nothing for free streaming, and if I'm a hit-making artist I'd
>> say
>> >>> you
>> >>> > > get
>> >>> > > > nothing without paying me regular download fees.
>> >>> > > >
>> >>> > > > -- Tom Fine
>> >>> > > >
>> >>> > >
>> >>> >
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>> --
>> >>> Frank B Strauss, DMD
>> >>>
>> >>
>>
>>

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