Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Music Industry's Biggest Threat?

Perhaps I'm showing my age, or perhaps I'm displaying a certain unwillingness to adapt to new technologies, but I am one who still likes to have a physical copy of music albums I purchase. I like to look at the insert, read the acknowledgments and have a copy of the lyrics. I also like to see who wrote the songs, since so many artists today don't write their own. You can learn a lot about the artist if you know which songs they wrote themselves.

That's not to say I don't digitize the music once I buy it; the first thing I do is put the CD into my computer and upload it into iTunes and then upload it to my iPod. Still, I like to know that if my hard drive crashes, as they so often do, that I still have all of my music in a physical library which I can access at my whim.

What I DON'T like is the way CD's are packaged. The plastic wrap is easy enough to remove, but once you get the wrap off there is an evil entity that must still be conquered.

You know what I'm talking about - I'm sure you've all had your bouts with this most pernicious of enemies, as well. The plastic sticker that holds over the top of every new CD is the one thing that makes me consider never buying a physical copy of an album ever again. I spend more time trying to get it off than I do listening to the album the first time through.

In once asked a clerk in a music store why in the heck music companies had to add this extra layer of frustration, and I was told that the reason is because people in the warehouse have been known to use razor blades to slice through the plastic wrap and remove the CD's before they ship. The sticker was added as a means to dissuade such activity.


A razor blade will slice right through the plastic wrap, but the plastic sticker . . .it's a real razor stopper, huh?

That explanation sounded completely idiotic to me, the answer I might expect from a minimum wage worker in today's world of useless customer service.

Then again, what other reason makes sense?

The sticker has the name of the artist and the name of the album, information which is also available on the spine and on the cover of the CD. It doesn't have a bar code, either, as that's on the back of the CD. There really is absolutely no conceivable reason for there to be a sticker with redundant information on the top of a CD, especially since the sticker is all but unremovable.

Maybe the entire purpose putting an impenetrable sticker on the tops of CD's is precisely to inspire people to give up the practice of buying them? I'm sure the day is coming when CD's will not be produced, and every album that comes out will only be available via electronic download. But maybe these stickers are a way of trying to expedite the process? Music companies would much prefer we all buy electronic music so they don't have to encode, mass produce and ship physical CD's. Perhaps the stickers are a means to an end. If we get frustrated enough we'll just give up.

I am not so easily assuaged, but I will say this: if any record company execs run across this blog I would like to point out that the razor blade I use to open the plastic wrap around my new CD's also cuts right through the "super-security" sticker. You could save a lot of money by not printing them in the first place.

And you would stop feeding the anal side of my nature that has to go to the trouble of removing the entire sticker, right down to the ever-present adhesive . . .even if I am mentally cussing the whole time.


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