Or how record labels can mine, again and again, their catalogue. The Rev. Keith A. Gordon just trying to be helpful.

So, I was sitting around "Casa de Gordo" the other evening, a cold Tree Frog Ale sitting on the sideboard, Barney Fife pontificating on the teevee, thumbing through my copy of the Rick Johnson Reader. Suddenly it struck me - the "final solution" to the music industry’s woes! Not some pie-in-the-sky scheme to separate music fans from their hard-earned dollars, but rather a con that would make even the most jaded Beltway lobbyist blush with envy.

Imagine along with me, if you will… a new, exciting and fresh recording medium that would prompt music fans to ditch thousands of dollars worth of CDs to repurchase their entire music collections all over again! A new, ahem… ‘record,’ if you will… a medium that would eliminate all but a small percentage of digital piracy. A medium that is portable (to an extent), with sound quality like angels serenading you to sleep each night with celestial lullabies, one that would provide a healthy kick start to the label’s bottom lines, rescue the recording industry from obsolescence, and maybe make musicians a buck or two to pay the rent with.

The medium that I’m talking about, gentle readers, is Vinyl. Yup, that kind of Vinyl, as in Vinyl record albums, i.e. shiny slabs o’ black plastic with grooves carved into them by some noble craftsman. You all know what I’m talking about - Vinyl, the beloved medium of audiophiles that was butchered by the major labels back during the ‘80s?

The cruel music biz Dons in their executive suites issued the contract, and the boys in production carried out the hit, while the gals over in marketing glad-handed the fix with the press and politicos. The bean-counters over in finance tallied up the dollars from new CD sales while the Dons, in their silk-suits, sipped Cognac and laughed all the way to the bank… until 1999, that is...

Like most things attempted by the major labels, however, they botched the hit and Vinyl managed to get away, scarred but alive, disappearing to someplace safe (England). Sure, the conspiracy-minded among us believed Vinyl had survived all along. There were signs through the years… punk 45s that would pop up mysteriously in specialty music shops, import albums would silently cross the border and take their place among our record collections.

The labels could simply start
all over again, in the beginning,
turning the clock back to 1955.
They could begin by releasing
classic Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and
Rick Nelson songs as 45 singles
to gauge public interest and
whet the cultural appetite.

Some of the loony-tunes on the fringe of the industry believed that the whole hit on Vinyl had been a scam from the beginning, the biz just waiting to bring the medium back from ‘retirement.’ Either way, after nearly two decades out of the spotlight, Vinyl is tan, rested and ready to re-take its rightful place as the recording medium of choice for music fans everywhere.

In some twisted, semi-logical way, it makes perfect sense. At least one of the "Four Families" of the recording industry - Sony - has its fingers all over the hardware racket. Surely they could dig their turntable schematics out of mothballs, blow off the dust and start production on a new generation of record players. The other labels could toss caution to the wind, throw a few interns into the vaults and see what they come out with. CD-pressing plants, largely owned by the labels, could be re-fitted to manufacture Vinyl records and savvy lobbyists could probably coerce a few tax breaks out of an always-eager Congress to pay for the entire changeover.

The labels could simply start all over again, in the beginning, turning the clock back to 1955. They could begin by releasing classic Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Rick Nelson songs as 45 singles to gauge public interest and whet the cultural appetite. Hell, if the kids like Justin Timberlake, they’ll love Presley, who has more soul in his pinkie finger than Timberlake has in his entire body… and Elvis doesn’t sing like a girl, either! Rap fans would naturally gravitate towards Chuck Berry… the legendary singer’s career rap sheet makes 50 Cent look like a choir boy! Nelson could become a teen idol again, some 22 years after his death.

Once the hook has been thrown in the water, the labels could bring their big guns out of the vaults - The British Invasion! This time, they can do it right, and forget about all of that embarrassing Pat Boone and whitebread pop that came between ‘E’ and the Beatles… just jump straight into the Brit-band years. Forget about Radiohead, what about the Who? The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Animals, Freddy & the Dreamers… the list of top-notch musicians from the era is seemingly endless.

And, in a couple of years, after fans have purchased all of their favorite British Invasion bands on 180-grain virgin Vinyl albums, the labels can roll out Bob Dylan, the Byrds, Peter Paul and freakin’ Mary, and relive the folk-rock boom of the mid-'60s all over again.

Even if the labels release big chunks of albums during a comparatively short period of time (i.e. reissue all of the British Invasion albums during the summer of ’09), they still have almost 50 years of music to sort through and sell, lots of gems to market to an eager record-buying public.

After The British Invasion and the folk-rock stuff they could do a year-long tribute to the psychedelic era… Jefferson Airplane, Love, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape, Blue Cheer… something for everybody in the label’s new world re-order!

Yes, the conversion to Vinyl makes sense… dollars and cents, that is! It would cost the labels little or nothing to get back into the Vinyl game. After all, all of these old records were originally made 25-50 years ago, the cost of recording and production long since recouped and/or written off.

If the labels begin releasing new titles exclusively on Vinyl and digitally through iTunes (or whatever retailer Doug Morris decides to support) and ditched the CD format altogether, piracy issues would all but disappear. New jobs would be created in the manufacturing sector, cranking out PVC for record production. Recording industry jobs would be saved, money would be made and, most importantly, the Dons of the Four Families would actually earn their obscene paychecks for a change.

And if this doesn’t work, they can always go back to mono...

Note: Visit Rev. Keith A. Gordon's blog page at http://ryanadamssucks.com/.





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July 27, 2007