Hello. My name is Post-Punk Monk and I have a music binging problem.
This year has been very off kilter for me. It’s down to the patterns of buying music this year. If you have a look at the 2018 Purchases page of this site, one can’t fail to notice that the 185 titles thus far were really down to just four “purchasing events” for the entire year.
A trip to Greenville, SC in January yielded 19 titles at two stores. Seeing OMD in Atlanta made for a trip to Wuxtry where 33 titles caused us to spend around $200. I next saved up for a trip to Los Angeles in July and that journey entailed visits to several record stores, including the behemoth Amoeba Hollywood. A total of 57 titles purchased at over $400, I’d estimate. Then, not a fortnight later, local store Harvest Records had their usually tremendous 14th Anniversary Sale. I bought 51 titles at under $40! So that added up to 160 releases. The other 25 purchases were sprinkled in the fallow times between this binge purchasing that is giving me pause.
That we went to Atlanta again in April as well to see Graham Parker without so much as driving by a record store was cause for some relief, but this is not new behavior. Back in my twenties, when CDs were much more costly, I used to sometimes shop like there was no tomorrow. Then the big record shows in Tampa often saw me buying 40-50 titles at once. And none of those discs cost under $10.00! The avalanche of over 100 titles in two weeks saw me spend last month reviewing an album a day in an effort to chew through the sheer amount of listening that I had in front of me in a more timely fashion. That helped. A little. Since much of what I bought was not actually related to Post-Punk, there are still a dozen or two titles that I have yet to listen to. Maybe more.
If one looks at the months of February, March, May, June, and September, one sees almost nothing coming into the Record Cell. And yet, I certainly failed to wither up and die. The truth of the matter is I find that I have plenty of music to listen to without buying more. Yet the interest in hearing more persists. Every year I vow to spend less on music while enjoying it more, but the patterns of consumption such as I’ve had this year, do nothing to rectify that. Case in point: It’s just October and I’ve already bought a third more than last years’s total, though the thrifty shopper in me begs to point out that it’s only cost me about $30 more than last year’s total expenditure. Still, I’ve got the fourth quarter of 2018 still to go and I’ve already failed in my goal of last year.
I understand the thought behind saving up for a big trip to Los Angeles and buying many things that would never show up where I lived, but that doesn’t mean that I would want to do it on even a semiannual basis. The Harvest sale features records and CDs for a dollar. They are basically giving them away to create goodwill. I am totally behind that and if it happened monthly I’d probably go at least six times a year. It’s more the other times that bother me.
I’d be a lot happier if I could find more things that I actually want, instead of things that are interesting and simply available. Nothing in Greenville was technically on my want list. Wuxtry had almost all of the recent John Foxx vinyl that I didn’t have, so that was nice, but those purchases in particular were strictly to feed the collector’s sickness in me. Everything in Los Angeles was pretty much a wanted item, and about a third of the Harvest sale was off of the want list. Quite frankly, it’s more enjoyable to me to focus on buying 2-4 things that I need to complete a collection instead of throwing down 4-5x times the money on a scattershot purchase that’s not “goal oriented.”
I only need three Fingerprintz singles to complete my collection of that fine Scot band, but at the rate I’m going, I’ll never get them. Heck, some of these records are even available in the US, bypassing the international postage issues that normally stay my hand in these affairs. I would really love to be able to digitize and denoise these records to make my perfect handmade REVO CDs of them for my enjoyment.
That’s another thing. I am severely lacking in the quality leisure time to play and record vinyl records for a start. I’m here to tell you that playing records is a pain. If it takes me 2x the running time of the record to digitize it, I’m doing very good. The fetishistic and ritualistic aspects of playing vinyl that enrapture so many? Hate ’em! If I wanted to be an IV drug user I would be doing that instead.
I don’t need the placebo act of taking the vinyl out of its sleeve, carefully by the edges, and placing it carefully on the platter. Opening up the Discwasher D4 box and removing the liquid, placing 2-3 drops across the brush surface and carefully spreading it across the surface with the bottom of the D4 bottle before spinning the record up with a finger and running the brush across the surface. Then doing it again. Then opening up my recording app and needle dropping across the track or side several times and places to set maximum recording levels. Then cueing up the record and starting to record. Sometimes several times due to the random length of the dead wax before the cut I’m planning on recording often goes right into the music before I can get the dustcover down [the action is audible] to prevent the disc from getting much filthier with play. Then not moving so my chair does not impact the acoustics of playback for the duration of the song/side. Then starting over when a peak that I missed up front causes the recording to go into the red. No, that’s at least 3-4x the play time of the song/side, I think! After a half an hour, I might have one or two songs on the server.
Then there’s the IT aspects of making my own CDs. The new iMac no longer has a DVD burner in it. I still have the 2008 iMac but I have not made any CDs since buying it in April. I am out of MAM-A gold, printable CD-Rs. These are $2.00 apiece in minimum spindles of 50. Then my disc printer needs ink, or something. The last time I tried to print a DVD this summer the image looked like a solarization! I may need new ink at let’s just call it $80. Ideally, I would also like an outboard DVD burner for the new iMac so I don’t have to move all of the files from the 4 TB external RAID to a thumb drive to burn on the old computer. Another $80.
There’s no money for this because all year we have been saving up for trips. Trips where we spend on CDs and more records, or just trips in any case. I don’t see myself making any headway on the “make your own CD” front until next Spring at the earliest, since we’re now going to Big Ears Festival next March to see Harold Budd’s residency there. So that’s the state of my angst in 2018. How lovely it would be to spend $40-60 a month on a steady trickle of things that I wanted and to have the time to enjoy all of the vinyl that I already have and turn it into delightful CDs that actually bring me joy, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. My wife has proposed that we stop taking out of town trips to see any performer whom we’ve already seen before, and I agree with this in principle, but I found myself talking her into Big Ears since she cherishes Harold Budd and at 82 this is probably one of his last big hurrahs. So I blame myself.
We are going to Atlanta this weekend to see Simple Minds for what will probably be the last time, unless they suddenly play Asheville! Mr. Ware and Echorich will also be attending, so there has been talk of communal record shopping; an enjoyable pastime in groups. Mr. Ware’s collecting days are in his rear view mirror but the pleasure of looking requires no legal tender. I enjoyed hitting the record stores in Georgetown with Echorich during the last Simple Minds event so with Mr. Ware with us it will be fun to visit Wax N’ Facts, Criminal Records, and Wuxtry while our spouses are having high tea. In that I have visited these store with as little as $20 or even nothing in my pockets to spend in the past, I will be keeping any expenditures down to the bare minimum. Check this space next week for the epic thread of Simple Minds VIP and the camaraderie of shopping with Echorich and Mr. Ware. If I spend more than $60, won’t you please take me to task?
– 30 –
I know I’m probably not the best person to comment on issues of buying too much music, but I would say life is short and when you get as much as enjoyment from listening etc. then indulging that passion is never really an issue. Yes it is frustrating not to have enough time to hear everything, but the fact that the desire to seek out new/old stuff still burns in you, is a good thing in the end. I too could probably stop buying now and still find enough to enjoy in what I have, but I don’t need to yet, and it’s still fun finding new favourites, long may it continue! Not long ago I listened to a news item about people buying books they never read, one commentator made the argument that a house full of books, even if some had never been read, was a house of exciting possibility because all that enjoyment/enrichment was there waiting to be discovered at the right momment. The same applies to music.
I find that I do not have that extra time to listen to vinyl either. I prefer CDs for convenience. I have a lot of vinyl. But the process of digging through it, cleaning it, playing it and recording it on a digital format is way too time consuming. I always buy CDs at Havest so I can listen to them while traveling. I also put music on my waterproof iPod and listen to it everyday while swimming my two miles a day.
Mel – Welcome to the comments! Wow, a local reads this blog? I’m used to people thousands of miles away leaving comments but not someone across town! So you afre fully aware of the bountiful goodness that is the Harvest Anniversary sale! I only rarely put DL music on my iPod so that I can listen to it in the car. Sometime it takes me weeks to do this because CDs are so much more convenient to me. I’ll never forget the joy of buying CDs and listening to them right in the car! I bought a portable CD player in 2001 until I got my last car, which finally had a CD player. Now they’re all gone! I really miss it in my iMac! SO inconvenient.
Many years ago (10 or thereabouts), I was working as a tech in an Apple shop, and quickly realised that in-built CD burners (on any platform) were a huge point of failure, especially for people with children, due to their many hazards (especially the thin trayless versions), and got myself a generic DVD burner (with tray and CD3 adapter!) and slapped it in a FireWire case. It is still in use (barely) today, and the built-in Superdrive in my aging MacBook Pro has long since been replaced with a second SSD. Built-in optical drives are for saps, I say!
These days I only use said burner for ripping CDs into my iTunes collection, which takes mere seconds to absorb the contents while not generating massive vibration and heat from super-speeding rotation of discs into my precious moneymaker … I mean computer!
Indeed. External is the only way to fly. I actually HAVE an internal burner in my main media box, but still prefer to use the external drive for both ripping and the occasional burn. In general I keep the internal drive DISCONNECTED in fact, to avoid dust and grummage being sucked in and deposited on lazers during normal non-use — this because I’ve had TOO MANY drives fail in the past from simple disuse.
When I see semi-name-brand internal burners go on sale on NewEgg (LG being a particular fave, as they seem to hit the low-price-decent-lifetime sweet spot for me) I generally buy 2-3 at once. This gives me easy swaps into the external drive enclosure at minimal cost or hardship, and best of all swapping in the same model means I don’t have to re-tune EAC for a new model each time.
Tom Williams – Well howdy-do! I will be getting an external maybe later in the year, if I can swing the cash. I will say that the internal it shipped with never gave me the first problem in the decade old iMac, but obviously, CD-3s were a no go in a trayless system! Another boon to an external.