Official: The Music Industry Has Eaten Itself

The music industry is notorious for attempting to repeatedly persuade consumers to pay out money for “special editions” of the same content: remasters, deluxe box sets, alternate takes and iTunes exclusives abound. But when we reach the stage when an MP3 rip of performer’s own vinyl copy of their record has become a saleable item, the shark hasn’t just been jumped: it has been reduced to mincemeat.

This is what has happened with minor UK folkie Nick Drake. Drake recorded just three albums in his short lifetime, but that hasn’t proven any barrier to labels repeatedly flogging his archive. The discography for Drake at Wikipedia lists eight separate compilation albums — almost three times the number of actual albums he released. Those compilations include random home recordings and demos, but it’s still a major stretch to have turned three albums that didn’t sell that well at the time of their release into a four-decade career.

I’m enough of a music tragic that I understand wanting to own every possible variant recording. But even I would draw the line at one of the inclusions in a recently-announced vinyl re-release of Drake’s third actual album Pink Moon. Specialist blog Super Deluxe Edition reports that as well as offering FLAC and MP3 downloads (a nice touch), the release also includes “‘dubbed from disc’ MP3s – in other words a vinyl rip – of Nick Drake’s own copy of Pink Moon ‘played on a period record player for added authenticity’”.

This leaves me speechless. You want that “vinyl sound”? Play the remastered vinyl. You want high-quality audio? Download the FLAC files. You want to hear a vinyl rip of a specific copy of the album played on a specific record player? You need to get a sense of perspective.

Granted, this is being sold as a bonus add-on to a relatively pricey vinyl re-release, not as a standalone object. But it sets a ridiculous precedent in an industry that already looks highly ridiculous. Your thoughts?

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