Who are you calling a loner? An Op-Ed From A Guy Who Is Definitely Not an Ed.

By Tom Westoll

I don’t know how you consume the majority of your music, but I have been appreciating albums on vinyl as the main staple in my musical diet for about the last two years. The reason that I have renewed my interest in albums is in the experience. Listening to the whole thing from start to finish – honestly, what better way is there to actively listen to an album, than on vinyl?

For me, my preferred way to support artists I like is to buy their record. I barely go to shows these days. Why? Dunno.

I do know that I love listening to records though, and I love supporting the things I like. And one of the things I like is music made by fellow Canucks. It gives me a sense of pride, I don’t know why though. Perhaps it’s the same gene that makes me choke back a tear when I’m watching Hockey Night In Canada and the Timbits commercial with Sidney Crosby in it comes on.

I’ve got records by The Sheepdogs, Lisa Leblanc, Chixdiggit, The Crooked Brothers, The Sunparlour Players, Arcade Fire, The Creeps, Cold Warps, Doug & The Slugs, Michael Rault and of course BA Johnston, to name just a handful of Canadian albums, that I have and were not made by a guy named Neil Young. I listen to them all the time. I’m always on the lookout for more that will compliment my collection.

Which is the other reason I am thoroughly enjoying the Vinyl Renaissance. I love the experience (there’s that word again) of being at record stores and flipping through albums. I started this habit of frequenting record stores as a young teen, although in my small hometown, aside from the pawn shops, there were only two CD and tape stores. Going to The City was an occasion, and one that had to include two stops – the skate shop and the record store. I could pass hours at a record store. These days I max out at like, 30 minutes, but oh, what a glorious 30 minutes. Maybe I get some finds, maybe I come out empty handed. It’s the feeling of music stores that I like.

So as I scrolled through facebook today and saw the article posted by Exclaim.ca, “Vinyl Collectors Are Middle-Aged Loners, According to New Study” , I thought “Middle Aged Loner? Trend Hopping Teen? Not me!”

Then I got to thinking. Sure I own a Crossley record player, but I’m not a teen like the article suggests. Far from it. I’m also not a perpetual bachelor (I’m quite happily married, thank you) with a record collection that encompasses half an entire living room wall like one of my best friends (Love you man). So I can’t be a middle aged loner, can I?

Maybe I am, increasingly so. Which is why I’ve taken to buying records rather than going to shows for the most part. Loner is a harsh word though. I can handle middle aged (although I would love it if my mathematical middle age didn’t come for another 10-15 years). But loner? C’mon!

How do you consume music? Are you a record collector? Why do you like it in that format? Are you nostalgic or forward thinking? Live music over records? Tell us all about it in the comment section.


Credits where credits are due

You know the type, at the end of a movie, while everyone is rushing to the exits, queuing for the washrooms to complete the processes started by their incredibly oversize and overpriced sodas, there’s always a handful who sit patiently and watch the credits roll. They’ll do it even for movies not made by Marvel and don’t have the teaser for the next film right at the end.

Those people will all say approximately the same thing about what they’re doing. “A lot of people worked to make this film. This is my way of giving them some respect.” There are those out there, more than 40,000 of whom who have officially declared it thus far, who believe music should be given the same treatment.

While their numbers may not be as plentiful as a feature-length film, an album takes more than the work of the musicians in the band to produce. There are producers, mixers, engineers, graphic designers, guest performers, and a whole host of others whose contributions too often go unnoticed by the public, even when they are all mentioned in the liner notes. In this ever-increasingly digital age, there often isn’t even a liner upon which notes can be provided. That is the thrust behind this petition by Jon Burr.

To be delivered to Tim Cook, CEO, Apple Inc.

Album credits are the lifeblood of musicians. Musicians need them to be displayed when their music is played.
Showing the headline artist and track title only anonymizes and minimizes the contributions of all the others involved and forecloses opportunity.Please show the credits when music is played!

This opinion isn’t exactly a new one. In fact, the petition was started a year ago. It is, however, an important one and one I feel is worth revisiting as we focus so heavily on the names of those headlining artists and so often forget everyone else.

Six years ago, Don Was, a record producer with decades of experience, penned an editorial for Huffington Post entitled iTunes and the Death of Liner Notes in which he wrote “I’m at a loss to explain Apple’s ambivalence about upholding the quality and value of the product that has fueled the success of their hardware.”

But, as Was wrote, the blame doesn’t land solely at Apple’s feet. “Distracted by the tsunami of horrifying financial trends, maybe nobody in the music business is seriously addressing the possibilities for digital liner notes and the improvement of digital albums. We’re missing the point that, just like domestic automobiles, if we offer better records at a reasonable price maybe people will start buying them again!”

The petition, as of writing this, is less than 10,000 signatures from their goal of 50,000. Several of the signatories, as is common with online petitions, have given short statements of support in addition to their signature.

“As a former manager of a national and international act.. name recognition is as key as the song itself…musicians, producers and engineers need that recognition to survive,”

– Tom Feeleym, Keyport, NJ

“I am a freelance engineer who has been mis-credited or left off of Canadian gold and platinum selling albums. It is of dire importance for everyone to receive credit for their hard work!”

– Wayne Cochrane, Toronto, Ontario

“This would dramatically increase presentation and also help those involved in the production and recording of a piece of music maintain a portfolio while using the apple services.”

– Ricky Neff, Boyds, MD

Of course, for some this is just a good first step towards Apple treating the music industry as more than just a cash cow.

“This is just one of the many things Apple needs to do to improve Apple Music. Next will be fair payout.”

– Mark Jorgenson, Austin, TX

But that’s a whole other topic. First, let’s get Apple to step up and give credit where it’s due. It’s nigh impossible to have widespread success in today’s industry if you’re not on Apple Music or iTunes, but it is impossible without a strong team backing you. Give them a little credit. Please, Apple? (You, too, Spotify.)