Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A pressing problem. The Times They Are a-Changin'

I have never made any secret of my love for the archaic music format that is vinyl even when extinction, in the sense of new releases, looked inevitable. An obituary after the towel was thrown in, maybe.
I certainly never expected to write a post including an apologia like this.

Even before it got to this point, with almost no investment made in new capacity and equipment, the strain that was being placed on the remaining presses of which many are forty years old would prove to be a limiting factor.  Just keeping them running at all, but now almost flat-out, was causing issues all of its own. Spare parts were a physical one but so too is the knowledge of how to maintain and repair such equipment in an efficient manner. The rate of change is quite astonishing as this article, written about the problems facing the industry shows. It was written late last year and first appeared in The Wall Street Journal. It was probably behind the curve even then...

Independent label Fat Possum Records had already taken a big decision... to enter the manufacturing market by establishing its own pressing plant, as Memphis Record Pressing, in Bartlett, TN.  To do this it sought and purchased redundant presses and then found ways and means to restore them to full working order. It wasn't easy.
To write off the CD, as this article conjectures, looks like a mistake to me. Many of us have have about a quarter of a century of music stored on nothing else and I can't see us giving up that aspect of nostalgia either. What is more is that CDs are (now) cheap, light, transportable, ubiquitous and often surprisingly robust. That is not to mention the home-recordable aspect that was lacking, at least in readily affordable terms, for the first twenty years of their existence.
This is as true now as it was then:

  • The Times They are a-Changin'
It was released by Bob Dylan fifty-one years ago today and only on vinyl (monophonic and stereophonic).

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