Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The music racket.

People like me are called cynics. It's from the latin, cynicus: One who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest. That's about right. The latest example comes from the money grabbers who produce music CDs. In this case, it's Apple Corps, Ltd.
There is yet another re-packaging of some 40 year-old music in the form of a 13-CD boxed set of re-mastered (and re-priced) Beatles albums. Didn't we go through this once or twice already with The Beatles catalog?
And it's only $180. In their day, the entire set of 13 vinyl LPs would have cost you around $60. I know, inflation and all, plus look how tiny the CDs are. It takes a lot of technology to put stuff in that small a package. You need a magnifying glass to find all the people on the Sgt. Pepper's cover.
Whatever happened to album art?
I'm a dinosaur who is old enough to have been through several incarnations of music formats: vinyl, 2 different kinds of tapes, CDs and mp3's. Every time a new format comes along, it's better and more sophisticated than the old one, or so they tell us ... sell us. The trouble is, I can't trade-in my old format for the new one, so I'm stuck with the old junk.
Meanwhile, these are songs that were recorded using equipment from the 1960s, on tape with hiss and noise and lots of old technology. Supposedly, they've filtered-out all of that junk to produce something that didn't exist when the original recording was made. It reminds me of those kids who drive along the road with giant sub-woofers in their cars producing sounds that aren't present on the CD. It's a speaker making its own sound. Now, we have CDs that are filtered versions of the original that sound nothing like the original.
Maybe the reason I resent the re-packaging is that it's sort of like saying, "What you had is garbage. This is better. Buy this." I'm insulted to think that what I liked sounded like crap. That's what they said about Dolby tapes and all the stereo equipment they tried to sell us 30 years ago. I can only imagine what they're going to try to sell us in another 20 years:
"Music so crisp that it actually hurts your ears! It's like a razor blade with rhythm. Buy it so you'll know what a dope you were to pay for the other 5 re-mixes."
And as long as there are new generations of music buyers who don't know any better, they'll keep digging into our pockets for fresh new money to pay for tired old music.

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