Maybe the last great garrison of hope for the CD business is closing in France.
In protest people are mourning and drawing on the French tradition of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité!”
While the loss of Virgin will claim 1,000 or more jobs the French melodramatic spirit is alive and well. We know all about that from Les Misérables: “And, bitter anguish, these two roads were contradictory.”
While we are so ingrained in the digital world where 25% of books are digital and music is shoved into tiny hard drives like wallets, we still want something tactile. I can’t bring myself to buy a digital e-reader of any kind. I like books. The smell, the paper, the durability. I can’t take an e-reader outside in the summer without fear of costly damage, drop it in water by mistake and dry it out, or give it away when I’m done. Books are often a cheap investment for a little extra boost to the imagination which is priceless. And I can easily give that gift to someone else.
Music seems different. I can share that piece of imagination with someone else without anything but the sound. A tactile object is no longer a show-stopper to hear that art form at home.
But we still crave something tactile.
Vinyl album sales are rising as younger generations are joining what some have called a hipster movement. As hipsters go, they pull the past into the present.
The sound on these new vinyl albums is simply delicious. The entire spectrum of sound just resonates and grabs you in the gut. Once you experience that, music becomes a special ritual to experience when you get home. You have to feel it and take care of it. It’s even laborious to flip the damn thing when a side is over. But that’s all part of a lost art that people are rediscovering.
When everything seems to be digital and amorphous, we still have a deep urge to touch the world with all of our senses. Just when we think touch is gone as Virgin closes, somewhere it will always be there because it’s part of being human.
That is enough to count on the old music store somewhere staying alive. These stores formed communities. This small places created space to flip through newest releases and talk to total strangers about great music and cover art.
The need for touch won’t leave us no matter how hard we try to get rid of it.
Touching our music is what will keep it alive.