Metal: a holdout against temporary culture

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November 17, 2010 –
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The mainstream media stumbles up against everything, so it’s no surprise they hit on valid ideas sometimes:

With the Beatles finally on iTunes, Garth Brooks and AC/DC are among the few notable acts that continue to staunchly hold out, unwilling to agree to Apple’s restrictive pricing schemes and loath to see their albums chopped into singles.

Angus Young of AC/DC, another act with an exceptionally lucrative catalog of music, once insisted that AC/DC doesn’t make singles, “we make albums.”

“If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album,” Young told The Daily Telegraph in 2008. “We don’t think that represents us musically.”

Young has said AC/DC’s sales haven’t suffered as a result. The band’s last studio album, “Black Ice,” released in 2008, sold more than 6 million copies worldwide. – AP

The problem with digital music is that it’s licensed content, not something you control. If their DRM goes down, or their download site goes away, what do you have? A license to download — but only from them, in the formats specified.

If we find something better than MP3/MP4(AAC) to compress music, what happens? You buy it again.

If Apple goes bankrupt, which it has come close to many times, what happens? You buy it all again.

CDs may not be ideal, but for a certain segment of the market, they’re perfect. We don’t want to muck around with an account on Apple.com. We want a physical object, we enjoy purchasing it and taking it home, and we can do that because we’re selective about what we buy.

You can’t say that about Lady Gaga or whatever other trivial crap most people listen to.

Metal is one of the few genres that is holding out in this way. Instead of making purchasing easier, we argue, make it harder and more expensive. Make the choice count for more as a result. Make people think harder about what they buy. Make them touch a physical representation of it, and keep it around the house.

Sure, I hate the mountains of landfill produced by CDs going into the dumpster. But for the most part, these are CDs for terrible music that should have never been signed, or CDs of trivial music that people “got tired of” a month later.

AC/DC and heavy metal represent the opposite principle: buy a few things you’ll want to hear for a lifetime.

No comments

  • eman

    No, CDs should be cheaper because else I would go bankrupt buying albums from all the artists I listen to. And that’s quality stuff.

  • oskar

    no, mp3 etc reduces the listening experience to coffee on the way to work and is a prime example of how the pursuit of technology and consumerism are one and the same.

  • comment

    “Listen to AC/DC for a lifetime???? LOL kill yourself hipster fucks!!!!”

    Hahaha! I agree. While you may agree with their stance on music sales, it’s definitely not something that’ll last you anywhere near a lifetime.

  • Gargamel

    I have to admit I find hit harder to sit down and listen to one album like I used to. With MP3s it’s more common, “against my own will”, to just shuffle all MP3s I have. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    As for AC/DC, they’re quality, very good at what they do. Sadly, most of their songs are only interesting half way through (i.e. too radio-friendly).

  • fallot

    I don’t agree with the end of this article at all. CDs aren’t just far from perfect, they are in every way inferior to digital downloads. Living in Pakistan, I would never have been exposed to quality metal (nor been able to continue listening to it) without this format. The complaint about being unable to control digital downloads does not somehow make solid media superior.

    The issue is with DRM and sure, that isn’t ideal. The article, however, sounds like old men whining about their vinyl. Except for the DRM, nothing stops you from keeping an MP3 “around the house”. I don’t like how these two entirely separate issues – criticism of DRM and love for solid media – have been muddled up together.

  • Ernie Ball

    I’d take Lady Gaga over 99% of metal, and 99% of the metal listed on this site. Her music is timeless electro-pop; deal with it, neckbeards.