May 5, 2008

NOW You Abandon Vinyl?

by

I have been visiting Werner von Wallenrod’s Humble Little Hip Hop Site as far back as i can remember in internet years, back in the day it used to be the only place you could check out discographies for many indie rappers. Early last year Werner’s site graduated to blog format and definitely deserves a spot on anyone’s regular reading list. Check out this great post he made this weekend on rappers abandoning vinyl:

Check out Pace Won‘s new joint… it’s on his myspace, Youtube, etc. Even if you threw away your Outsidaz fan club membership long before they split, or if you were only somewhat into them in the first place, I’m confident you’ll dig this. It’s almost “Nostalgia” part 2. Man, what an ode to hip-hop, with contemporary, fresh lyrics that are still witty and original over an addictive beat, a sampled hook and some nice scratching by his new producer/DJ Mr. Green… I can’t wait for the 12″ to drop!

Except, when asked (via myspace, thanks soulcondor) about it, his response was:

“Vinyl?
Definately Mp3 and CD…
Won”

Now, this is not me having a go at Pace Won. …Well, maybe a little bit (I mean, come on!). This is about the indie hip-hop scene in general. Have a look at UGHH.com‘s store page. Their 12″ list has been blasted with a shrink-ray! It used to be this impressive list of brand new and pending indie 12″s, and now it’s tiny, dwarfed by the CD list.

If you missed this November ’07 Wired article, you should really read it. Go ahead; I’ll wait here. Essentially, it’s a thorough, encouraging piece all about how, while the RIAA cries about downloads killing the music industry and CD sales dropping at record speeds [yes, that was a pun. Sorry. but they’re dropping very far and very fast is the point], record sales are, as Ian Connelly, client relations manager of independent distributor alliance IODA, put it, “way up. And not just the boutique, limited-edition colored vinyl that Jesu/Isis-style fans are hot for right now.”

Amazon.com even created a new vinyl only section, which they didn’t even have in the heyday of Sandbox and Hiphopsite in the late 90’s.

Now, Wired just made a new article where even the RIAA, who long tried to deny the vinyl resurgence, finally had to admit that “the American music industry sold 36.6 percent more Extended Play (EP) and Long Play (LP) records than it had in the previous year, increasing vinyl sales revenue by 46.2 percent. CD unit sales, on the other hand, declined 11.7 percent with revenue dropping 20.5 percent during the same period.” That’s a really drastic difference for a single year!

And where is hip-hop? Look at that Amazon vinyl section I linked. Today their featured pieces are R.E.M., Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, the Juno soundtrack, and Elvis frikkin’ Costello. There’s not even a single, crappy crossover psuedo-hip-hop release in the sidebar. Now go back and look at UGHH’s emaciated “New Vinyl Singles” selection again.

After years and years of us hip-hop fans buying and supporting vinyl when everyone else on the planet would look at us like we were escaped mental patients and ask, “you mean, the big round black things I used to play as a kid? Ha ha How novel!” After years of “SUPPORT VINYL” t-shirts and impassioned articles by DJs and collectors in Subculture, Rap Pages, Vinyl Exchange, URB, etc. etc…. Now my real estate agent and the hipster at the local supermarket are building massive 33 1/3 collections.

And when I reach out to the great old and true school artists, the leading figures in holding it down for the hip-hop underground, asking when their next 12″ is dropping, I get, “LOL wut?”

Seriously, vinyl is up 46.2% just this year, while CD sales are still plummeting so fast record label CEOs are slitting their wrists in their high-rise offices,and NOW is the time you guys pick to abandon vinyl? I’m sorry, but my best, most thoughtful response to that is, “you suck!”

Now, I appreciate that a lot of indie artists are on low to no budgets… but you know who else is? Me! And if you want me… and by extension, I daresay, the rest of us remaining hip-hop fans who haven’t completely given up on the notion of supporting you artists and voting with our dollar, to just downloading all your albums as illegal mp3s for free. If you want us to show you some love, you’ve gotta get your acts together.

Records are back! But a time for celebration turns into a pitiful day when we see Madonna and Elvis Costello proving to be more hip-hop than Pace Won or, say, the entire roster of Koch Records.

– Written by wvwalenrod

7 Comments

  1. metawon

    Records are key. But how can we, the hip-hop record buying public, support the music when, as the author says, there is a rapidly decreasing amount of hip-hop records for sale? All my mixtapes are 100% vinyl, but its getting harder and harder to get most of what I want, let alone all of it, on vinyl. The majority of the records I buy are old. Maybe that is where they got their stats from; cats buying used records. Or serato records hahaha.
    But its not funny.

  2. ceej

    That article is so true!

    Metawon: Vinyl sales have been increasing year to year for the last while now and those numbers are based on new records only, not used vinyl / dollar-bin shit, obviously most of these sales are in other genre’s besides hip hop. The whole point of the article is directed towards the artists and labels who are doing the untimely abandoning of vinyl, not the record buying public.

  3. vinyl is expensive to manufacture and really expensive to ship. The margin is extremely narrow, most independent artists are lucky to break even. Although sales may be up a staggering 46.2% that still might account for only a tiny portion of overall music revenues. That said, I still love records and my next project is gonna be a 7″

  4. I definitely think hip hop wise the cost of manufacturing, shipping etc is the main reason people have stopped doing it. I’d like to know where bigger labels get their vinyl pressed, because i bought the new Cadence Weapon album for only $12 and its a 2xLP with a Gatefold cover and included a coupon to download a free mp3 version of the album.

  5. jayoh fellonious

    $12!! I copped that shit from the source at $20. I WAS RIPPED OFF! Just kidding (kind of). I think most of the bigger labels are going to the UK and Germany to press their vinyl. I know most of the picture discs are pressed there. I want to press vinyl up so bad. I think that the majority of people making music, if given the opportunity to press vinyl, would do so. It’s the superior format. It could withstand a strong EMP and the art work is huge, you get a lot more out of it than a picture that’s 1″X1″. Dope find Noyz!

  6. you have to sonsider how shitty vinyl sounds nowadays. As a format enthusiast, it’s really unfortunate that all the vinyl i’ve ever released sounds like crap.

    not to front on anyon ein the process ( producer, mixing, mastering)

    But the quality of teh atual ‘press’ compared to ‘back in the day’ is just shit.

    moral of the story…. put your best songs closest to the outside of your 12 or 7 inch.

    otherwise you’ll come out sounding like ‘midnight marauders’ did on it’s vinyl press.

    p[lus shipping these punks can cost up to 7 dollars + per record….

    hefty price to keep it real.

    that said, i wish everything i’d ever done had been on vinyl.

  7. metawon

    Me too. I would release everything I do through vinyl if I could, and I hope to release at least one record before I’m done. I wonder about the process too… if the audio is digital almost throughout pretty much the whole process, and then it is put on record, does it benefit? This wouldn’t apply to die hards like the PUTS who do everything analog, or so I’ve been told, but I think one of the reasons old vinyl sounds so nice was that they maintained an analog chain the whole time.
    CeeJ – I feel what you’re saying, I was mostly joking when I said that shit about used records. I guess its just frustrating to know that I could go cop a new rock/indie/electro record with greater accesibility and ease than hip-hop. I mean, come on!
    I worked in a hip-hop record/paint store for a couple years, and we had to stop ordering hip-hop records because cats don’t really buy them. So you can’t say that its just the artists or whatever.

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