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November 20, 2010

Hello, hello; is this thing still on? Yeah, the blog's been dormant for a while. I've been distracted with regular life and otherwise.

Anyway, I've redone the till.com home page, so it looks a little bit more professional. (And uses fancy modern css sprites for the rollover art.)

And I've added an update to my article A New Business Model for the Music Industry. Heh-heh; it turns out that one of my jokes was completely dependent on knowledge of outdated technology.

Here's the update:

Sigh... more than a few readers have written in, telling me they didn't get the joke. I first thought that perhaps I didn't tell it very well, but then I realized that the years have been flying by, and that many music fans reading this may not have ever seen an Automatic Turntable (also called a Record Changer). Automatic Turntables used to be quite popular, and were able to play a stack of vinyl record sides without manual intervention. Wikipedia has some details here.

So two-record sets were often pressed to be played stacked up on an automatic turntable, with sides 1 and 4 on the first disc, and sides 2 and 3 on the second. And the listener would place the records in a stack at the top of a long spindle, play sides 1 and 2 through, flip the pair over, and then play sides 3 and 4 through.

Electric Ladyland was just such an album. So that's the joke; by placing sides 1 and 4 on the first CD, the record label demonstrated both that they didn't understand the sequencing of the original album, and that they didn't understand the playback technology of their product.

Deconstructing this a little more... Some multiple-disc vinyl albums were pressed to be played a disc at a time (sides 1/2 on the first disc, sides 3/4 on the second) and some were pressed to be stacked for automatic turntables (sides 1/4, sides 2/3). In practice, the choice of which to use was dependent on how sequential the flow of the album was. But another consideration was that automatic turntables were generally of inferior quality compared to manual turntables, and didn't treat the discs as gently. And the owner of a manual turntable is faced with a significant amount more labor going from side 1 on disc 1 to side 2 on disc 2 of an album pressed for stack play. So if the record label believed that the target audience was more audiophile oriented or otherwise preferred manual turntables, they might be less likely to press the album stack sequenced.

Posted by DonTillman at November 20, 2010 10:16 AM

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