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:: 2 The Beat is the Toronto Star ::

dj_mrbrown

TRIBE Member
www.2wars.com/2tb

Going from vinyl to virtual
May 7, 2006. 08:16 AM
BEN RAYNER
POP MUSIC CRITIC

The vinyl LP has survived aggressive incursions by everything from cassettes to CDs to DVD-Audio over the past few decades, but once again the vultures are circling closer.
While analogue-attuned audiophiles clinging to their turntables have kept a stable core of pressing plants in business through the lean years, the biggest and briskest demand for new vinyl since the compact disc reared its shiny head a quarter-century ago has come from DJs.
That demand, however, has begun to taper off in recent years with the advent of digital technologies such as Final Scratch and Serato Scratch — software packages with record-like interfaces that play on regular turntables and finally allow dance and hip-hop DJs to mix MP3 and WAV files culled from their hard drives as they would a pair of 12-inch singles. And the gradual desertion of the format by its most reliable consumer base is sending shivers up the spines of the record retailers who've been catering — at minute profit margins — to that small group all along.
The late-'90s contraction of the North American rave scene spelled disaster for record shops around the continent, and here in Toronto, such peak-era staples as Eastern Bloc and the Pit fell within a couple of years of the new millennium.
Last year, affable Queen Street fixture Black Market Records shut its doors when its proprietors decided they'd be better off promoting parties than selling them their soundtracks. Privately, both had been confiding for months that the rise of digital DJ-ing was starting to hurt.
Even more recently, Yonge Street haunt Release Records dispensed with its physical location and its vinyl stock, opting to become an online retailer
Some record-shop owners, such as 2 the Beat's Brian Bobroff, are slightly more optimistic about the future of DJ vinyl and betting the future of dance music lies somewhere in between.
"2 the Beat was never called 2 the Beat Records, it was called 2 the Beat for the simple fact that I knew I've got to be ready to adapt to whatever," says Bobroff. "It's gone pretty well and even recently we're still seeing an increase in record sales.
"But it's an increasing reality that more and more DJs are either using or have already switched to digital media. So rather than give up or take a stab this way or that way, we want to be a mirror of a DJ. What would a DJ use? We want to have it."
To that end, 2 the Beat is expanding its online presence in the weeks ahead to flog MP3s alongside the vinyl versions of the tracks it already sells in its Spadina Ave. space and on the Net. Bobroff doesn't look at http://www.2thebeatdigital.com — which will be up and running at full speed by the end of the month — as an admission of the LP or the 12-inch's looming demise, but rather a means of stabilizing his original business.
2 the Beat's motto has always been to be "a reflection of a DJ," he says, and if you head out to a nightclub these days you're liable to see a couple of CD mixers and a laptop sitting alongside the traditional two turntables and a mixer. He's hoping to satisfy both worlds.
"We're not afraid of it. We just want to welcome it and work with it. I think that's how we're gonna survive," he says. "If vinyl was supposed to be dead, it would be dead. It's faced a lot of challenges and, personally, I like holding a record in my hand. I like to look at the album art. I treat it with more respect. I've deleted gigs' worth of songs without blinking, but I could never just throw a record away."
Digital music is a growing market, as the boom in DJ-specific online outlets testifies. Popular Canadian DJs Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva — who both sagely bought into Final Scratch on the ground floor four years ago — are partners in the largest, Beatport.com, but there's mounting competition from such sites as DJDownload.com and InternetDJ.com.
After some initial worries about illegal file sharing, dance record labels, meanwhile, are starting to release MP3 versions of their tracks.
"I'm increasingly surprised by how many amazing new labels we're signing on a daily basis," concedes DJDownload.com co-founder Justin Pearse from London, whose site now has a roster of "just shy" of 1,500 labels and 30,000 registered users.
"When we started we kind of said to one another that we were getting started at just the right time, or maybe even fractionally late. People who are getting into it now are either really brave or really stupid. It's a volume game and you're talking pence on every download."
Vancouver DJ Dan Wurtele was one of the first into the fray in November 2003 with PlayItTonight.com, whose name sums up another of digital's appeals: If you hear a track you want, you can find it online in minutes.
"The initial reason was I had the main core of my record collection stolen," says Wurtele. "The price of re-buying all that vinyl was more than I could afford. I bought a CDJ (a digital turntable) and started rebuilding my collection.
"Secondary benefits were quickly realized: as a producer, I can test out my new tracks in the club far cheaper than cutting dubplates. And MP3s are obviously cheaper, as well — currently I spend in a year on MP3s what I used to spend in a month on vinyl."
PlayItTonight.com is "not a big player," concedes Wurtele, but the future is rosier than it will be for traditional record shops.
"I think digital will definitely take over," he says. "It's a logical progression. Sure, I can like the sound of vinyl better and I enjoy looking at an album cover, but put it this way: If you're a kid getting into DJ-ing, you're going to look at buying a song. You can either pay $18 for a song on vinyl or $1.50 for the same song as an MP3.
"Vinyl diehards will exist for some time and that's great. We need them. I have some songs I will never listen to as an MP3. Vinyl only. There's more substance there. But really, like it or not, it's only a matter of time before vinyl goes the way of the eight-track."
 
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NemIsis

TRIBE Member
^^ Funny. I just finished reading this in the Star..

Interesting. But another article next to it says that the young teens of today are becoming more and more interested in vinyl. Ah.. the rebelliousness of youth.:D
 

diablo

TRIBE Member
NemIsis said:
^^ Funny. I just finished reading this in the Star..

Interesting. But another article next to it says that the young teens of today are becoming more and more interested in vinyl. Ah.. the rebelliousness of youth.:D

Yeah, but that article was a bit wide of the mark, I'd say.

Instead of talking about the people (i.e. non-DJs) buying indie rock, downtempo, broken beat, etc in NEW vinyl, they focus on the (undoubtedly tiny) group of "young people" buying CCR and Hendrix records at garage sales and flea markets.
 

green_souljah

TRIBE Member
diablo said:
Yeah, but that article was a bit wide of the mark, I'd say.

Instead of talking about the people (i.e. non-DJs) buying indie rock, downtempo, broken beat, etc in NEW vinyl, they focus on the (undoubtedly tiny) group of "young people" buying CCR and Hendrix records at garage sales and flea markets.

I had an extensive collection of classic rock records that I ended up giving to the salvation army. What do you do with them? Especially being in my late twenties, when moving is a yearly ritual it seems......MP3's are a godsend.

I backed up my entire collection of music this weekend, onto DVD, and am currently storing them in a CD binder that takes up less than a square foot of room.
 

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
Solid article as always from Ben Rayner.

I really dig Brian's perspective on things and find it a refreshing, realistic and positive take on a market in flux as opposed to the doomsday hyperbole being spouted by other (former) record store owners in this city.
 
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