2015: A Year In Buying Music

2015-totals

In a word… wow! 2015 was the year where my music to cost ratio exploded. The price of old title physical music [the kind I like] seems to be flatlining. I have bought large quantities of music this year, and many were titles that were on my want list, for pocket change. That was a helpful trend, because the price of postage for music bought by mail order [where most of the titles I want reach me] is showing no signs of decreasing. It’s already been several times the cost of the music and not trending downward.

Trips to different cities have yielded huge amounts of inexpensive used material, though my own city remains several years behind the curve, in keeping with the quite high cost of living in Asheville. Typical used prices for 30+ year old music on CD elsewhere is in the $2-4 average cost while $7-8 is still common locally for all but the most unwanted titles. Harvest Records annual anniversary sale was modest in the CD department for the second year running, but vinyl exploded this year for the first time ever with tons of 12″ singles I was glad to purchase at rock bottom prices.

A trip to Beautiful World Records in Philadelphia was inconclusive as they did not stock their music on site, leaving me to mail order a ton of CDs and 12″ vinyl when I got home from my trip to Pennsylvania. But, their shipping costs are the best in the world. Any amount of vinyl for $5.00. Any amount of CDs for $3.50! Do you copy that? A trip to buy records with my friend Ron Kane in Charlotte revealed the best record store in the state, Repo Record. I can hardly wait to visit Charlotte again with a decent amount of cash in my pocket next time. So the sales were amazing [details to follow]. What releases caught my ear this year?

2015 Album List

Just nine albums released this year were purchased and here’s how I rank them.

  1. FFS: FFS – This was even better than I thought that it was going to be, and my expectation was way up there. I wisely bought a Franz Ferdinand album [their debut] before buying this so I’d have a context in which to appreciate it. Wise move!
  2. Visage: Demons To Diamonds – It was neck and neck with the FFS album for the top spot, and considering that Steve Strange died while it was being recorded speaks to its unique strengths in the Visage canon. More than anything, this album reflected the fact that Visage had come back in 2013 as a band. These songs sounded built to play, which was a sad irony as this could not be possible.
  3. Visage: Darkness To Diamond – While I lamented the lack of world-conquering Visage singles from “Demons To Diamonds,” the minds at Visage HQ shocked me by dropping this remix album as recompense just weeks after the album was released – at least from their webstore. It gets a wide release on Bowie’s birthday [this Friday].
  4. Ghost Harmonic: Codex – John Foxx and Benge teamed up with classical violinist Diana Yukawa for this impressive feat of organic electronics and improvisation. I certainly hope that there are a few more of these projects in the pike.
  5. John Foxx: London Overgrown – John Foxx surfaced solo with this ambient album delving into his penchant for biological chaos running roughshod over civilization.
  6. Todd Rundgren/Emil Nikolaisen/Hans-Peter Lindstrom: Runddans – In a shock move, Todd Rundgren released a collaborative album with a pair of Norwegians who approached the icon like an equal. The result was a dubbed-out kosmich trip like Rundgren hadn’t done in over 30 years.
  7. Laurie Anderson: Heart Of A Dog – This soundtrack to the new Laurie Anderson film is exactly that. If you took a recorder into the theatre when the movie was playing and recorded it as audio, you would have this. It is the full soundtrack to the feature, and the downside was that a few sequences simply don’t work without the visual accompaniment the film provided.
  8. The Rezillos: Zero – I am ashamed. I bought this first Rezillos album in 36 years… on vinyl. And that puppy is still sealed. I have yet to buy the all-critical CD for actual listening to. Lame, I know. It’s probably top 3 stuff if I actually heard it!
  9. Duran Duran: Paper Gods – And yet even an unheard Rezillos album had to be better than the new Duran Duran album. Suffice to say, I was not terribly interested in what Double Duran were putting down this time. That I heard it at the same time as their previous, frankly stunning album from 2012, only made it sound even worse in comparison.

Stats

Total titles purchased: 161
Total cost: $645.04
Average cost: $4.00/title

CD: 85
Vinyl: 76
– LP: 12
– 12″: 42
– 7″: 22
DVD: 1
– bundled: 1
Downloads: 2

Here’s the data on a graph.

buying-stats-2015

 

Wow! The gulf between the number of titles and cost has grown enormously. The wider the gap on those endpoints, the more efficient my spending is. The amount and caliber of the music this last year was very “comfortable.” there is such a thing as too much music to process, and the 2015 haul felt about right. A new release every 2.2 days. That I can do this for under $700 frankly astounds me. It’s a cold fact of life that physical product is way cheaper than downloads, so that boat has sailed. Just two downloads this year, and one of them was a freebie from ZE Records. I don’t see this trend reversing anytime soon. I don’t know why anyone would pay more than the cost of a CD for a DL.

Speaking of “dead media,” the DVD format seems to have really bitten the dust with only a single bundled DVD coming into the collection this year. That’s fine with me. I have bought DVDs [at great cost, often enough] that only get a single viewing years later, if ever. That’s time spent better listening to music! Particularly when there were so many cool 7″ singles flowing into the Record Cell this year, thanks to Time Traveler in Akron.

2015 finally saw me acting on deficiencies that have plagued me for several years. I bought a cakebox of MAM-A archival media to make CDs with for the first time since 2012, And I bought a 4TH RAID, since my hard drive [and external aux drive] were maxxed out for almost two years now. With the new 4TB RAID sitting in my Record Cell, I now have copious amounts of hard drive space to record all of this vinyl for listening to. Now, all I need is the time to simply play this stuff!

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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14 Responses to 2015: A Year In Buying Music

  1. Yay for more space and cheap music! One more thing you forgot to add: even though you bought almost entirely used stuff I would imagine, you probably still paid some artists more than they would have gotten if you’d streamed everything you listened to. I think streaming is a good augment to help one shop wisely, but for most people it has largely replaced illegal downloading, so a pittance is better than nothing I guess — but the amount of money writers, recording artists, and other entertaining clever people just keeps going down with each new tech innovation, and the rates all the streaming services pay is flatly criminal (though Apple does pay slightly more than the standard, it’s like getting a nickel over minimum wage, you know?).

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  2. Echorich says:

    Pretty amazing amount of 2015 music for you Monk. I’m with you on a good deal of your notable nine. Both John Foxx recordings were wonderful, if not my go to albums. Of the two, London Overgrown spoke to me more. It was a great year for music from favorites and in creating my list of top albums and songs/singles, I was spoiled for choice. Marc Almond topped both lists for me. Heaven 17 (yes, yes, available at the tail end of ’14, but really a ’15 single), Blow Monkeys, Black, China Crisis, Wire, The Fall, Visage and even The Monochrome Set and Jimmy Somerville made the grade in 2015.

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    • SimonH says:

      Does anyone know if the China Crisis album is likely to become available again??

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      • postpunkmonk says:

        SimonH – It certainly doesn’t look like it!!! This unavailability is really making me irate! What’s up with China Crisis??! They have the album now. Sell it, guys!!! In the interim, there are sleazy guys selling it for $50-$100 on eBay!!!!!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Arrrgh. You remind me that I still need to catch up on Black, China Crisis, Wire, Marc Almond and The Blow Monkeys. In some cases several albums worth. The H17 was stunning but my single of the year that was technically released this year was Visage’s late in the game but no less adored “Lost In Static.”

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      • Echorich says:

        If I hadn’t felt so strongly about Lost In Static in 2013, it would have made my 2015 short list as a remix. I would have loved it to have been the second single off of Heart + Knives rather than the, uh, fifth single, and it is far and away my favorite Visage song for over 30 years.
        Marc Almond’s Zipped Black Leather Jacket was my favorite song for 2015 – not a single by the way…and it’s album The Velvet Trail was not only my favorite album, but racked up more plays, double, of all the albums I listened to in 2015 according to my iTunes.
        If you want to get a chance, take a walk on the wild, and not so wild side of my single/song and album list I posted.

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  3. SimonH says:

    Very annoying…apparently it’s excellent as well, bizarre!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      SimonH – I’ll take have to take Echorich’s word for it!

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    • Echorich says:

      SimonH – Autumn In The Neighborhood pushed the envelope as far as how long Gary and Eddie took to get things together to release the cd, but wow, was it worth it in the end. It’s a mature consideration of the best elements of their past while sounding quite fresh and heartfelt. To make matters only slightly more bewildering, the gorgeous Everyone You Know which was offered as a teaser, didn’t end up on the album. In the end, the album as released was strong enough to not need the teaser single to be included.

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      • SimonH says:

        My fault for not being more organised! I’ve not made that mistake with the new Modern English album or Steve KIlbey’s next collaboration.
        Fingers crossed CC sort something out for this year, maybe with Everyone you Know as a bonus.

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  4. Jordan says:

    The CC is excellent.I would say it has 2 or 3 of the best songs Gary has ever written.I got it with the Pledge but why they are not selling it is beyond me.They seem to be touring all the time.Played Toronto I think 3 times this year.I am sure they can find the time to sell a CD.I bought the Visage because of the reviews here and it really does sound like 1982 but updated.No Anvil but a fitting tribute to Steve.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Jordan – I’m not so sure about CC selling their CD. Did you see them in Toronto? Can anyone say if their CD is on their merch table? I could not Pledge since the campaign coincided with times that I was hoarding money for travel in ’13 and ’14. Lame, I know.

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      • Jordan says:

        Jim
        I saw CC twice in Toronto. Both times left me un impressed by the band as it was a trio and more of a sing along pub thing. But their songs are great. At that time, no new CC at the merch table but they had a live tour CD avail which I bought.
        Simon,Is there a new Modern English coming out ? I saw a 2016 tour in the works.

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        • SimonH says:

          Hi Jordan
          Yes, there’s a Pledge campaign underway, looks pretty likely it will come out this year. Really rated their last album so have high hopes for this one. I think it’s another example of a band that have a better appreciation of their strengths now. Hope they announce a UK date here in Bristol, a few years back a gig was confirmed then cancelled, so got tantalisingly close to seeing them.

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