Rockabilly in the digital age

I’m sitting on my lap top. I got a stack of records here….and a stack of records there. A shelf full of CDs….. And I’m playing music from computer from the CDs I’ve ripped into my laptop (a Wild Records comp). Times have changed. Now, I’m 32 years old (It’s the The Brian Setzer Debate all over again) so my fondest memories of getting music was buying a stack of CDs. At a record store! Or at the mall if I was lucky. I’ve found stuff at thrift shops. It wasnt until recently I’ve been ordering them online. As a teen every now and again I’d get a burned disk from a friend. Even younger I would borrow a friend’s compact disc. Treated it like Gold. And record it on a cassette (now I’m wondering what happened to that collection). Getting flash backs?  So it is kinda funny that just a couple of years ago I jumped on the bandwagon (I don’t consider this a trend) and got a record player and have been hunting down records since. But there is still music I’m playing on my computer. Something I don’t think anyone in the 50s or even the 80s would ever think we would do (maybe they did, I was either not existing or peeing the bed during this time).

I feel the rockabilly world has the most dedicated fans when it comes to actually buying albums. If you go through my personal Instagram you are bound to see a ton of photos of me holding up albums I just got and wanted to share to the world that I have these gems in my possession after getting them mailed from Germany. And I’m not the only one. CDs and records are frequently posted online. This blows the mind of people outside the scene. One guy I know posted a comment in complete shock that someone bought the physical copy (that is what their calling it nowadays) of an album. They were almost disappointed. Oh, should I have bought the digital version….no. They couldn’t believe someone actually put money into music. It was almost unheard in this day and age.

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Today’s generation has it so easy. They don’t even have to leave their house. They can go on their computer…..hell even their phone! Buy an album digitally. Download it to their phone. Then there was the others. They download it off an app (ILLEGALLY). Or go to a website and get the music off a video from YouTube and get that on their phone. In this day and age every song out there is on that site. It is ridiculously easy. And in my opinion…wrong. I’m not going to lie though. I do download songs in that manner. Now I feel there is a right way to do this. Don’t download the whole album! That makes you an a**hole (admittingly I’ve done this in the past but I’ve grown up since). If you are listening to anything from the rockin world, chances are these guys have side jobs to make ends meet. Lazy lazy and cheap people don’t wanna show their appreciation by doing the right thing and actually BUYING THE ALBUM. I recommend downloading a couple of songs. Like 3. See how you like what you hear on your headphones. Then go buy the album. Artists have to eat. They need money to fund tours so you can see them live! I recently did this with Silvertooth Loss and the Witch, I loved what I heard and immediately bought the album….digitially. We’ll go back to that in a second.

Alrighty let’s get into Spotify! I had an account for nearly 3 years. Taking breaks for a month  here and there. Mostly for money reasons.Oh god it is a treasure trove of music! So many albums and bands right there to stream. So heavenly. The second an album by an artist I liked was available I would be up and save it to my app. Oh the sheer joy of when a band that didn’t have anything available finally put up their discography (Delta Bombers for example!). This was awesome but there are drawbacks. One is that it is too much of a good thing! So much great music at my disposal that I could barely soak it all in.I would hear and album and think its the greatest thing since slice bread. Then realize that I hadn’t heard it for a while because I ran into like 6 or 7 other instant classics. Its like the fable about the king that had everything and becoming bored. I hate to admit to it. But I got bored. I had to get rid of my account. Put all my music I already had and upload them to my lap top and phone and I discovered that having the app made me not appreciate the music I already had with me since I never played anything I already owned. I’ll get it again at some point. Purely to check out albums I haven’t heard yet and use that as a way to figure out what to buy.

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The rockin scene full of folks that buy records, 45s, and CDs I noticed that there is almost shame when someone mentions buying an album off Itunes or Amazon. One guy I talked to recently bowed his head in shame after admitting to it. Now I’ve heard the reasons: The sound quality isn’t the same, it’s not how they listen to it in the 50s (they didn’t have compact discs either), the artists don’t get that much money off downloads (I’ve been told this by a couple of bands). Now I own a few albums digitally. My reasons are mostly because they are foreign artists and I don’t wanna pay nearly 25 dollars on a 4 song EP disc. So I choose to pay $3.99 for a download off amazon. Another factor is paying the shipping charges. I don’t mind the costs but then there is sometimes an added 5.99. Postage prices are the reason I dart towards the merch section at shows like I was shot out of a cannon so I don’t have to pay that. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve paid an amount for an actual CD that I am totally going keep to myself (this has happened a couple of times where I didn’t pay attention to how the amount converted from European money to American and didn’t realize it until after I purchased it…wow. Lesson learned!). Another factor, I get impatient and want the album to be mine asap. Though I use that as the same reason for paying more than the usual for an album. Oh I’m a confusing person to know. But let’s get this straight. I love the sound of music from all forms!

Last point I’ll bring up. The sound. Some folks have done some complaining about people only wanting to listen to music on phone. Here is where there is a generational gap. When I grew up, a good chunk of the music I listened to were from compact discs in a portable player that I listened to on headphones. I did this going to school. While at school. Breaks at work. Coming home from work. I didn’t get any type of mp3 player until 2010. In 2011, I got a smart phone and started exploring the digital landscape of music. And with headphones or ear buds constantly improving I can hear some amazing music ON MY PHONE! I’m not always home to listen to my records (didn’t say vinyl or vinyls) or my CDs. Its more practical and it works. I can pop in an album made on tape. Put on a cd. Uploaded to my computer. Downloaded to my phone. And rock out.

Like what you read or hated it? Leave something in the comments. Feel free to share this on social media. LIKE the Official Rockabilly Nerd Facebook page HERE!

Come back next week where I’ll try to cuff my underwear!

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