Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


How come I end up where I started?

Filed under : Music
On January 1, 2008
At 12:00 pm
Comments : 14

No, that’s not really true. I’m actually in a much different and better place than I was last year at this time. I just thought that was a fun, appropriate line for New Year’s from the new Radiohead album, which comes out today. Sort of. If you know anything about the new Radiohead CD, In Rainbows (and if you’ve read anything about popular culture or music or technology or the entertainment business in the last three months, your head will explode from how much you know), you’ll know that it’s the ALBUM OF THE YEAR. Last year. That is, 2007. Only it comes out today, January 1, 2008. You see, despite my embracement (I know that’s not a word, brilliant, let’s move on) of legal downloading, the record store in my computer, the Internets, the future, the Jetsons, etc., I still buy CD’s.

There are lots of reasons for this. I like lists, everyone likes lists!

1. They sound better than compressed sound files.

2. I can rip them in whatever format I like. Mp3! FLAC! AAC! FBI! 256, 192, 128, hike! It’s the original and I can do what I want with it.

3. I like to look at the booklet. Sue me. I once got thanked on a rap album, by the way. I have no idea why.

4. When my hard drive crashes, which all my Apple website feeds tell me will happen, I still have the originals. Yes, I back up but this is even better.

Now, let’s say you’re one of the five people in the world who don’t realize why In Rainbows is the ALBUM OF THE YEAR. Well, first, because it’s fantastic, a critical smash (shocking for Radiohead ha aha ha). But more importantly, Radiohead decided to put it up on their website and let you pay whatever you want. Whatever you want, people. So why didn’t I do that? Well, you may have noticed that list of reasons I like CD’s. But more than that, I was paralyzed by indecision on how much I wanted to pay for In Rainbows. Obviously, I want to pay nothing. That’s what I wish I was paying for most things. But what about poor Thom Yorke and his little elfin shrunken head? Didn’t he deserve to be paid? Of course. Five dollars? Five pounds? Five Euros? What’s the exchange rate today? What statement am I making as a fan, as a label employee, as a person who harangues everyone about paying for music? Arggggh.

In the meantime, AOL started an “All Radiohead” internet radio station which was basically In Rainbows interspersed with Paranoid Android and a lot of B-Sides (India Rubber is a delightful song, by the way – who knew? I almost titled this post “I’m instantly your biggest fan” which is a great line from that song, but I digress). So I was actually listening to it all day without having to think about what to pay Thom (which I always pronounce with the “th” like thong, it’s all my co-worker Jill’s fault). That worked out well. And while I was dithering, they took the whole thing down and said they were releasing it as a CD after all on New Year’s Day. Which is crazy in so many ways, because, while it is a Tuesday (that’s the day CD’s are released), it’s not a normal release day since it’s hard to get shipments to the stores on New Year’s Eve. No one wants to send them earlier because then clueless employees would start selling them. Except… the music is already out, so who cares? As a person who has been in this industry a long time and remembers guarding boxes of Metallica’s Black Album and U2’s Achtung Baby at Sam Goody’s with her life, well, it’s a sea change.

But if you thought I was stuck in the past, you are just WRONG! You may have noticed, but I doubt you have, that I took down my “What I Bought On iTunes” page. That’s because I mostly stopped buying at the iTunes store. Amazon sells their music DRM-free (without copy protection) and so I can put it on my BlackBerry. I tell this to my boss every week but he was selling Frank Sinatra records in his youth so he doesn’t really understand what I’m talking about. Just wait till I run that place. I’ll still be telling you what to pay, though.

And if you are wondering who else besides me will be running out to Circuit City (it’s a record store wasteland on the UWS, sorry) to buy this CD, the NY Times has your answer: no one.

As always, Radiohead songs are not available for download from the legal services (ironic, I know). Here’s the song from which the post title is taken. I think my favorite parts are the ones with the sample of the kids yelling “yay!” I saw them do it live on their webcast and it just wasn’t the same without the yay.

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