Volume 94, Issue 39

Wednesday, November 8, 2000


Daddy Pop says "I want my CDs"

Band Gob tells it like it really is

Gray's Ladder glows

Buried Treasure

Daddy Pop says "I want my CDs"

Aaron St. John
Arts &Entertainment Editor

The Internet/MP3 saga has been progressing at light speed for well over a year now. The latest devlopments include the revelation last week that BMG is merging with Napster (which seems odd, considering BMG is also suing Napster) and Warner announced they will soon begin offering digitial downloads on a subscription basis.

It seems after countless hours spent fighting the trend, the record industry has decided to change its tune and cash in on the financial possibilities Internet music distribution offers.

There's just one problem with this. MP3s and the various other technologies at the heart of this issue, aren't exactly surperior products. Actually, they suck. Easy now – before you explode and start ranting about me being some sort of ludite who's afraid of technology, let me explain.

First of all, there's the issue of packaging. I don't know about you, but I like having something to actually hold in my hands when I get a new album. I like the process of going to the store and picking up a record off of the rack and going over to the counter to pay for it.

Sitting and waiting for it to download doesn't have quite the same appeal. Sure, it means I don't have to leave my bedroom, but what's so great about that? And having to squint at my computer screen in order to find out who played clarinet on track six isn't exactly something that excites me either.

Secondly, the sound quality of MP3s, Liquid Audio and the likes, isn't anything even close to that of CD. I'm not just nitpicking here – the speakers on the average computer are kind of small and tinny. Even big, Dolby enhanced speaker systems don't improve things much; they just amplify the hiss and distortion inherhent in these formats.

Being something of an audiophile, I may care little more than most, but there's a certain level of fidelity that should be considered acceptable and the Internet-based formats don't meet that standard as of yet.

Finally, there's the principle involved. The record industry has changed formats numerous times over the last 50 years or so. First vinyl, then, just briefly, 8-tracks, then cassettes and most recently, CDs.

Enough is enough. I don't want to have buy all my favourite albums again on another format. To paraphrase Paul Reiser, if consumers have to switch again, we might as well give up and go back to sheet music.

Admittedly, there are some benefits to using the Internet as a distribution source. Being able to sample an artist's work before purchasing it, is always good. So is having the option of getting individual tracks by people you wouldn't normally be interested in.

It's a convenient way to learn more about music and to broaden your horizions, but as a replacement for other ways to listen to music, it just doesn't cut it.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000