By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
"Going into a record store is even worse than going into a video store. It's like, after you've seen every Alfred Hitchcock movie and every Woody Allen movie, you're stuck staring at the Tom Cruise section. Sometimes when I go into retail stores, it just seems like our culture is incredibly shallow and provincial and limited."
At best, the Internet is a listening-station at Border's or Tower Records, a place to try it before you buy it. Need proof? Oh, sweet irony: For all Flansburgh's talk about the future and pop music's disposability, They Might Be Giants' next album will be released by a major label -- on CD. The Toadies will still release its second album next year on a major label, Interscope -- and they will still sequence the disc, even though Vogeler has no problem with consumers who create their own randomly assembled discs. And for all its big talk of the Internet revolution, Public Enemy is still selling There's a Poison Goin On... in stores -- on a label, Atomic Pop, run by the former head of MCA Records.
The full-length will never disappear -- not as long as there are people out there who want to hold the disc in their hands, who want to cruise the record store in hopes of stumbling across the hidden gem they never knew they wanted. And, most certainly, MP3s are no more or less evil than radio itself or cable-music networks; if this were 1958, Pat Boone would be a star on MTV, while Little Richard would suffer in the underground.
Revolution? Sometimes, it ain't even evolution.
"Look, it's like the old saying: You get three Jews together, and you get opinions," Bad Livers' Rubin says. "The good news about MP3s is: Anybody can make a record. The bad news is: Anybody can make a record, and now they are. It used to be the lonely went quietly into the good night. Now, they all have a Web site. I see MP3s as more of a marketing device than a format. I mean, I can see the argument from a sociological point of view that it does lend itself to our disposable culture. But for the general public who doesn't have a really strong organic relationship with music, this is what they want. Now they can have their vacuous crap and not have to pay for it or keep a CD they'll sell back six weeks later anyway.
"Look, I got me a freeware MP3 player and went looking for stuff to download, and all I could find was crap anyway. And like my old man used to say, if you don't have to pay for it, it must not be worth anything." John Maxwell