When was the last time you bought a record? No, I don’t necessarily mean on vinyl.
A record can be any form of media from CD to digital download. It is a “recording” fixed in some way for future reference or enjoyment.
An album is still a collection of songs, even if ti’s on tape or on your iPod. Anyway, chances are that if it is more than ten years old, it was marketed by a major record label.
More recently, there has been an explosion of records, albums and singles, being heard everywhere. So while the old terms are still relevant with our music now, the technology has certainly changed the game for musicians.
In the early days, musicians had to go to the record company and play their song live, or give them a home-made demo tape. Most did not get through thirty seconds before rejection and after a few attempts, the dream died on the doorstep. The record companies controlled what music would be heard by the masses through radio. They would even pay the radio networks a lot of money to have their songs played more often. The only hope that most musicians had was to sell their creations to the big companies. Otherwise, the only people to hear the songs would be friends and family.
With the advent of affordable home studio equipment, musicians were not only making better demos to pitch, but started creating their own tapes. Through supply companies, you could get large quantities of blank tapes, cases, and J-cards to insert into the case. Some places offered mass duplication to make hundreds of tapes so you would not wear out your Radio Shack dual cassette deck. Small independent record labels started to spiring up everywhere. The big companies hardly noticed because they were not interested in small quantity distribution. Then the digital age entered the picture.
As compact discs (CDs) took over, flawless duplication did as well. Pirating (illegal copying) of music made a huge dent in the revenues of labels and musicians, and file sharing is still an issue today. But the technology has also helped independent “Indie” artists to create a professional quality album without a record deal. Home computers, recording software, and graphic design programs have ushered in an era of great sound and packaging at a more affordable price. But, distribution was still an issue. Enter the internet.
Now with online services, a recording can be uploaded or sent to a company such as Disc Makers who will provide all the necessary elements for a professional recording and set you up with places like CD Baby who distribute your CDs online through their website, Amazon, and even create a store for your own website. They also distribute your music digitally to places like iTunes, Spodify, and others who sell downloads for people to buy for their iPods and other devices. They also provide a UPC code for stores and offer to embed the files with data to identify the songs when played in a player, or online.
The big companies are becoming irrelevant in today’s music world. There are a lot more options for listeners to discover music and many prefer Indie artists over mainstream. The mega-labels still have the money to promote the music, so Indies still often hope for the big break. Until then, they can create high-quality records and share their art all over the world.
Contact Jim Meck, Topton, at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new album “Along the Way” was recently released by Indie label Meck Music and is available at www.jimmeck.com or directly by calling 610-750-4526.