The Replacements and the End of Buying Music

Recently one of my all time favorite bands, The Replacements, got back together and played three shows at Riot Fest.  Of the four original members, one of the Stinson brothers is dead, their replacement guitarist Slim Dunlop has a life threatening disease, and their drummer Chris Mars is a full time artist.  So the last two Replacements, Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson, played shows to rapturous reviews by fellow Gen-X’ers.

I am just kicking myself in the rear that I didn’t go see those shows.  The Chicago show conflicted with a bunch of other things but in hindsight I could have gone off and seen them in Denver (maybe).  Now I am waiting to see if they get back together (or even record some more music) and this time I’ll be sure to go, where ever they play.

After watching some of the songs on You Tube I went to put some more replacements on my iPod while working out and realized that I only had a few snippets from their albums in my collection.  Back when I first ripped the Replacements CD’s a long time ago I only put a few songs from each CD on my computer (trying to save space) and of course the quality was low, at 64 bit.  I realized that I didn’t even have “Tim”, my favorite album, at all.

I started looking around on itunes and now I need to buy these songs for a THIRD time.  I had them all on albums, then CD’s, and now I need to buy them AGAIN, on iTunes?  Really?  And all the while I can hear Dan’s voice in my head saying that he doesn’t buy any music anymore, relying on the internet and services like Pandora / Spotify and for me at least, Sirius / XM (I have it in my car and house and started paying a bit more to stream it and play on my “Jambox” speaker through my iPod or iPhone).

In this case I knew where my old CD’s were… I gave them all (more than a thousand) to my brother, and he was ripping them in some high fidelity manner.  He looked through the stack (they were all out of order because of a flood) and found three CD’s, which I took back, and I will re-rip again and put on my iPod.  After I got home I realized that I didn’t get “Let it Be”, probably my favorite, and I don’t have all the songs on my iPod.  Oh well, I may have to buy a few here and there.

But how long before I don’t buy any music at all?  It can’t be too long.  I don’t buy too many books anymore, and I probably buy less eBooks than I used to buy of the equivalent hardcover variety.  I am consuming paid media at a fraction of the rate that I used to, and can probably see a day when I get rid of everything (I got rid of all my CD’s a while ago, so these three are the last three in my house).

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz

7 thoughts on “The Replacements and the End of Buying Music”

  1. This is why the system needs a complete re-write from scratch.

    Reward should be tied to the interest in your creations, and not function as a form of control over its distribution.

    First off, given the internet, this is either impossible or woefully undesirable.


    It is generally agreed that the internet “treats censorship as noise and routes around it”.

    Now, what is censorship?

    Censorship is any organization telling you “this we deem dangerous, therefore, you may not access it.”

    What is copyright?

    Copyright is any organization telling you “this you have not paid for, therefore, you may not access it.”

    Right. Both are about restricting access.

    And if the internet treats censorship as noise, and routes around it… what is it going to do with regards to copyright?

    Yup. It’s going to treat it as noise, and route around it.

    Note — this is most emphatically NOT claiming that censorship and copyright are the same thing morally — it is saying that they are the same thing physically (Sex and rape are the same thing physically. They are not the same thing morally).

    Nor is it the juvenile “information wants to be free”. DATA, perhaps, should be free. Information is someones time and effort to produce a unique worldview of data (musical notes, pictures, ideas), and, if we wish to benefit from those worldviews, we need to reward people for taking the time to produce them and release them to the public.

    I’d strongly recommend to anyone that they read the now almost 20yo piece by John Perry Barlow, of The Grateful Dead:

    The Economy of Ideas
    A framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age.
    (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong.)

    “If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.” – Thomas Jefferson

  2. The bottom line comes to this – if the people who create the music have no means of being paid for their efforts there will be far fewer musicians working full time.

    A lot will do it because they love it but as full time work?

    I think most of them now – the ones who have made it past the garage – make most of their money in concerts – not media distribution. Perhaps that is the “new” model – give away the music; play in sold-out stadiums for ticket prices that are whatever the market will bear.

    Interesting world we are living in

    Look at the movie business – I saw Ron Howard’s Rush a month or so ago – wanted to take my car nut nephew to see it (visiting from MN) – and it is gone from the theaters around here now.

    Theatrical release used to be the production company’s main income source; now it is a side show it seems.

  3. Compliments to Amazon for their music app. Buy music there it, in any form, and aside from receiving the music (CD, download, whatever) it’s available for future listening or download on the app.

    Like you Carl, I bought a CD 5 or 6 years ago and it got away from me. I was gladdened that, after installing the app, I got the music back.

  4. The copyright on intellectual material seems extreme. For works published after 1977 it’s 70 years AFTER the author’s death. Not sure about pre-1977 publication….but it’s also a very long time.

  5. I tend to lag behind technological changes. Ten years ago, nearly all of my music was on cassette tape-most recorded off the air- at a time when CDs had been dominant for years, and MP3s and the like were on the ascendency. Most of my music CDs I have bought in the last 10 years,when the falling popularity of CDs compared to MP3s etc. meant that I could buy box sets at $1-$2/CD as remainder -and unused- sets at used book stores. I don’t see the point of taking the time to transfer my 500+ CDs to a hard drive, especially when it would appear that the life of a hard drive is around 5 years.

    Regarding copyright- the box sets I have purchased have come from European companies. My understanding is that in Europe, copyright for music expires after 50 years. Which means that one can purchase music performed by masters ranging from Lester Young to Albert Schweitzer at very good prices.

    One lost music moment came when I inadvertently erased a cassette several years ago which had some Rameau piano music I had recorded years before from a local radio station. I could not find a CD to purchase which had the music, but Amazon had the music I was looking for in MP3, so I purchased it off the cloud at a good price.

    In high school I purchased Pablo Casals conducting Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. After hearing multiple versions of the Brandenburg Concertos over the years, I came to the conclusion that the Casals version was the best. My records were discarded years ago, but I was able to find the Casals version on CDs- one of the few time I paid full price for CDs.

  6. Carl, instead of buying music for a 3rd time I’d just use which allows you to stream music a la carte. Thanks to robust bandwidth courtesy the fiber optic cable, I wifi and stream all my music. Rarely do I use locally stored music anymore.!/thereplacements

    Oh and the price is right.

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