Dichord Joins The Party
First of all I should say that I’m very happy to be here at nonpretentious. The name says it all. These guys are covering all the bases and in a great and accessible way. I can already tell that I’ll probably be spending more time than I should on this site checking in on what everyone else is doing. I’ve just returned to Dallas Texas to finish my degree and that means that I am 1) going to have a rather limited amount of free time and 2) am officially a no good free-loader again. Yup, I’ve got no car, no bed, no computer, and no desk out here. Last week i walked around my apartment complex with a borrowed lap top begging people for their wireless internet passwords so i could get my blogging fix. My computer situation will be changing but not for a week or two so my entries here should become a little more consistent in the future. But if you don’t hear from me internet it’s not that I don’t love you, I’m probably out there trying to beat up some kid and take his laptop.
There has been one consolation to my new immobile lifestyle and that has been the Dischord online store.Dischord has always operated in a way that I felt was closer to how a band would do things. Dischord bands would assemble all of the record sleeves themselves early in the label’s illustrious history and while I assume that most of those late night arts and crafts parties don’t occur very much anymore Dischord never lost that DIY feel and ethic and they never felt like one of the big guys even though they act as the home for some big names. Dischord ads won’t be taking up precious resources or staring you in the face when you take a piss at a bar, the music sells itself.
That’s why it seemed a little strange to the music community at large (read me and a random poll of my friends) that Dischord waited so long to release its catalogue digitally. The internet has been heralded as a leveling force since people first started tying up their parents’ phone lines to download film scripts and pictures of lesbians playing tonsil hockey. A label that has always been so fair to its bands and customers should have embraced the possibilities of this digital revolution long ago right? Conventional wisdom says cut out pressing plants, storage and distribution and everyone left reaps the benefits. Give that notoriously impatient punk rock youth what they’re clamoring for.
The only possible reason I can think of for delaying this move would be a sense of nostalgia or tradition that although incompatible with an anarchist mindset (I always hear about this anarchist cookbook thing being downloaded) is very common within a community that many people have been calling stagnant or dying for over a decade now. I don’t know anything about the economics of printing a record as opposed to burning a cd but I do know this. The packaging is ALWAYS better. The greater size allows for cool booklets that you can pore over. The album art is big enough to distinguish what’s actually going on. Judging by the fact that Urban Outfitters sells record frames at their otherwise non-musically related store and the empty record sleeve I just saw on ebay I wouldn’t be all that surprised if I found out that most people just wanted to look at the album sleeves these days. Occasionally I come across articles pondering the cause for rising vinyl sales in an otherwise declining industry, maybe they should just but a kid in a room with a cd and a record and see which they go (goo goo) ga-ga for. I will concede that there is something really nice about hearing the needle touchdown on the record for the first song and that it feels good to hold something in your hands but for a lot of people living in a cramped apartment it’s really not that practical.
Now that I’ve had my little technological meltdown I can appreciate the value of having hardcopies around. Maybe Dischord was just being prudent, waiting to see if there would be some digital apocalypse before committing. Maybe they were just waiting to get it right. The mp3s are high quality and DRM-Free and when you buy an LP it comes with a free download so you don’t have to get a usb turntable or any of that expensive software. It’s affordable at 7 bucks per digital download. Everything’s all laid out and the site credits all the band members, the recording location (I like reading that something’s from inner ear for example because I’m a nerd), etc. The best part is the bands. Because I’m already at the site I can check out all the media as I browse. Within the first 30 seconds I’d already found a new favorite band, Antelope. Even though they formed in 2001, I’d completely missed out on them and Dischord’s store totally saved me from an Antelopeless life. Because Dischord finally joined in on the digital age now I can join back into the Dischord fold and this makes me incredibly happy.