I've been surprised how much of my own LP collection I've ended up taking the time to digitize into 
my music server library. There are a good number of records that just don't have good commercial CD 
versions (either they were put out on CD once, with a terrible remaster, or they never made it to 
CD). And there are others that the CDs have now gone out of print and command higher prices than I 
want to pay, given the LP is good shape and sounds good. As my CD collection gets sucked into the 
music library, I am now thinking about what physical media I'll want to keep long-term, and CDs 
definitely lose out. I can see getting rid of all the jewel cases and keeping disc, booklet and even 
the inside-jewel-case label in those vinyl slip-cases that some libraries are now using. 
Longer-term, if I have the liner notes and artwork on a 12x12 LP cover, I'll probably get rid of the 
CD altogether and keep the nicer and more usable (readable) artifact.

Matt, I hear you about streaming. I just don't get it. It's almost like the record companies are so 
tired of having their profitability and relevance pounded down that they want to die.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Matt Sohn" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2016 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] The new normal - "hits" are hard to come by, the vinyl niche continues to 

Vinyl may be a niche, but it is a very robust one. I have been slowly digitizing my vinyl collection 
over the past 14 years, and I am very happy with the results of my transfers. Some discs sound like 
s%#t but others sound delicious. Some of the people making records in the heyday knew what they were 
doing, Some did not. Same for digital today.A project that I recorded and mixed 
( was released a few months ago. Within a few days I 
saw the whole album on several file-sharing sites. Now there is a youTube playlist 
(, "Provided to 
YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises" for the whole album, so anyone with the smarts to find it can 
listen to the whole album without paying a dime. The owner of the record company said she "had" to 
provide streaming because "that's just the way it is". I have no idea how many physical copies they 
have sold, but I'm sure it's less than the 1000 they pressed, or I would have heard. In the digital 
world, everything is free, unless it isn't (evidenced by Louis CK's new show (wanna see it? pay $5 
for a download, at least until somebody uploads a phone camera vid to YouTube). The bottom line is 
that artists need people to buy their product, if they are to thrive and grow. People like Adele 
don't have to worry about stuff like that, because they are established moneymakers, and when you 
see charts about music sales, they dominate the figures. That doesn't mean that there aren't tons of 
great musicians putting out stuff all the time, but in many cases, it is only because they can 
afford to do it for little, if any, compensation. The big 5 have virtually eliminated A&R in favor 
of formulated 'hits' created by a small conglomerate and shopped to the highest bidder. This 
benefits them in that they don't have to worry about bands like Nirvana totally upending the whole 
paradigm with something new and exciting. I would have loved to put out the record I recorded on 
vinyl, simply because then it would become an artifact, and not just some ephemeral thing on the 
internet. The record company couldn't afford to do it. In the immortal words of Linda Ellerbe (and 
Kurt Vonnegut), "And so it goes.."
-Matt Sohn

    On Wednesday, February 3, 2016 1:05 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

-- 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

> 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:
>> > > >
>> > > >
>> > >
>> >
>> > > >
>> > > > 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:
>> > > >
>> > > >
>> > >
>> >
>> > > > 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