Vinyl junkies - I’m one of them. Possessing an opiate-like addiction for our preferred musical format, we tolerate, no we EMBRACE its inherent limitations and inconveniences. Pulling a treasure from our Ikea Expedit shelves (actually Kallax is the new thing), we cross apartment room floors that sag from the weight of our collections to put a record on the turntable. But first comes the romance of arcane cleaning and calibration rituals, the Holy Trinity of tracking weight, azimuth, and overhang, and then the battle with the Four Horsemen of the vinyl apocalypse: surface noise, orange peel, non-fill, and off center pressings. After 20, 22 minutes maximum of blissful immersion, the stylus bumps against the end groove, vup, vup, vup, and its time to get out of the chair, somnambulant, and flip over the record.
Straight people observe this behavior and say, “umm, wouldn’t it be easier to just listen to this stuff for free on your phone?”
So what does an archaic physical format and the weirdos who are obsessed with it have to do with fixing the music business? We’ve been told again and again that music has little or no value as a product, that access to it is easy and free, that the days of record stores and physical collections are a quaint notion of the past. And yet, at the most unlikely of times for a rebirth, these old things, these pieces of art, have stirred passion and a connectivity to music and the artists across age brackets. Why? Is it a hipster trend? Foolish nostalgia? Or does listening to vinyl awaken a musical mindfulness that downloads and streaming don’t deliver?
My guest on the show today is Billy Fields of WEA Distribution - that’s Warner, Electra Atlantic in case you didn’t know. Billy is the “vinyl guy” at WEA and certainly qualifies as a record junkie. When I walked into his office at 50th and Broadway in NYC, he was spinning a Siouxsie & The Banshees record, and it was loud. And when his boss came in for a minute to chat, he didn’t turn it down, not even a little. Billy shares his thoughts on the business realities of vinyl, how labels choose what to release, the challenges facing record stores, and the tangible passions that music on wax inspires. So, welcome Billy Fields!
Links for this episode:
Billy Fields on Twitter: twitter.com/billysezvinyl
Darkside Records: www.darksiderecordsandgallery.com/
Fantastic Negrito: www.fantasticnegrito.com/heritage/
The Revenge Of Analog: www.amazon.com/Revenge-Analog-Re…ter/dp/1610395719
Benjamin Clementine: benjaminclementine.com/
Jim Campilongo: jimcampilongo.com/
Ellen's Stardust Diner: www.ellensstardustdiner.com/