COMPACT DISCS - NO THANKS
(included with Active Minds: Behind The Mask 7")
People are often asking me why I dislike compact discs so much, so here's just a few reasons why I think that CDs have no place in the hardcore scene:
1. They are expensive. People who don't know what they're talking about often tell me that CDs are cheaper to make than albums, and, therefore, we should start putting out really cheap, independent CDs. What the don't realize is that, although the manufacturing process is actually cheaper in base costs, the process is patented which means that the price we would be charged to make a CD is under the control of one corporation, and that ensures that the price to us is higher than doing an album. Of course, you can fit far more music on a CD making them, potentially, better value than records. However, most bands haven't got enough material to record albums that are 70 minutes long. O.K., so it might be good value if you got a back catalogue to put onto a CD - you find that bands will put their first two albums, for example, onto one disc. Good value, eh? but when it comes to new material this won't happen, so bands will still be back doing 35 minute albums. In addition, this will deter new bands from putting out releases because people won't pay CD prices to hear unknown band, and, besides that, the band won't have enough material to do a full length CD. Thus, the status quo will be preserved - with big bands becoming huge and small bands struggling to survive. Also, sometimes it is necessary to do short releases, and the 7" record is far cheaper for doing this than a CD. If vinyl is phased out, which looks likely at the moment, then what has happened to our ability to react quickly to an event and put out a release as a statement on it? For example, in past bands have released records to respond to disasters, riots, wars breaking out, etc.. If vinyl had not been available and they had to put out a CD it would have cost a fortune, and if they'd wanted to make it better value they may have spent time writing extra songs, and the resulting delay in the release would reduce its effect.
2. Compact discs are supposed to have a better sound quality. Who cares? If you really wanted better sound quality you could always buy better equipment, or take better care of your vinyl, but, to be quite honest, if I was that interested in sound quality I probably wouldn't have half of my records anyway. Punk rock has always been about the D.I.Y. ethic - people getting involved and starting bands, and not worrying too much about whether or not they were great musicians. That's what is so great about it - there should be no snobbery. We should all honour and respect each others creative efforts. Attitude is far more important than musical talent or recording techniques. I'm far more excited when I hear a raw hardcore band from somewhere like Colombia, who obviously don't have access to expensive recording studios, than I am when I hear yet another bland American band, with a huge recording budget, trying to be the new Dag Nasty or Bad Religion.
3. Compact discs encourage us to consume more technology than we need, and it won't stop at CDs either. The music industry, in order to make more money, would like to introduce a new 'format' every ten years or so, so that we have to buy the same music again and again in order to play it on the latest technology. If you already have a record player, you shouldn't need to buy a CD player, nor a DAT/DCC deck for that matter, as the music you want should be available on vinyl. However, many new releases are only available on CD and, therefore, we are encouraged to consume. This is happening in the hard core scene just as much as anywhere else - we are being told that vinyl is no longer wanted, so we will move on to CDs, whereas, in fact, the manufacturers are now making a lot of vinyl
difficult, or even impossible, to obtain whether people want it or not. We are being led by the market forces of the rest of society, and these forces reflect the interests of the Yuppy. Despite media hype, there are still far less households with CD players than those with record players (particularly in poorer countries). More than 80% of CDs sold are compilations of stale old songs that have been repackaged so that the upwardly mobile 30-something bracket can re-live the sounds of their youth in the comfort of their armchairs. These are the people that the manufacturers choose to provide for because they give bigger profits, despite serving fewer people. We shouldn't let people like that influence us.
4. They are too small to allow for a lot of effective packaging. Again, I don't want to sound like a sad and nostalgic old man, but do you remember those great albums released in the early 80's which had huge, fold-out poster sleeves and loads of literature with them? What likelihood is there that we'll see releases like that in 10 years time, once vinyl has been phased out? The size of CDs, and their packaging, encourages bands to concentrate more and more on the music, and less on producing challenging and creative artwork, lyrics, and literature.
5. There is no such thing as an 'independent' compact disc release. The manufacturing process is patented by the Philips Corporation, and for each disc that is made they must be paid a form of license fee (you'll notice that all compact discs have the same copyrighted logo on them). That means that every time you buy a CD you put money into the hands of the multinationals - there's no way around it. The most worrying aspect of this is the question of who is controlling our music. At present, if a manufacturing company wants to produce CDs it must obtain a license to do so. What will happen if, once the marketing men have successfully phased out vinyl from the shops, they may start monitoring what is being released with a view to censoring material which is politically or socially challenging. Does this sound a bit far-fetched to you? Well, in the totalitarian regimes which used to exist in the Eastern Bloc, one method the state used to try to suppress material which challenged it was to control access to equipment which could be used to copy music and writings. It could happen here. Multinationals such as Philips are part of the system that we oppose, and it would be foolish for us to give them even more control over what we do. It could mean that in 10 years time we have been driven so far underground that we could have no real effect, and the music industry would have successfully stamped out dissent within its ranks.
So, there you have just a few reasons why we don't produce compact discs, and, furthermore, we never will do in the future either. Understand now? Good - then don't fuckin' ask me again.
/By Active Minds
PS from SzSS: I won't be releasing CDs I hope but I still distribute a few - mainly those produced by the DIY scene. Thing happen, y'know.
На скамье - Алексей Шведов. Тот самый.