The musical record again: literally this time

From an interview with Billy Bragg, the Bard of Barking, in the current issue of Mojo:

Vinyl, CD, or MP3? Vinyl. In a hundred years time, vinyl will be the only medium that has survived. CDs will fade, like old pictures that have gone a bit orange, and MP3s, well you can just accidentally wipe ’em any time.

I know. Another quote from a music magazine for the middle-aged. I bought this issue for the story about Portishead. We lived in Bristol for many years and enjoyed the occasional trip to the sea at Portishead, the town whose name they took (also the home of a lido). This was during a remarkable period for Bristol music, with Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead, and others contributing to the Bristol Sound:

The Bristol sound was the name given to a number of bands from Bristol, England, in the 1990s. These bands spawned the musical genre trip-hop, though many of the bands shunned this name when other British and international bands imitated the style and preferred not to distinguish it from hip-hop. [Bristol underground scene – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Mind you, for us living in Bristol, the early to mid-nineties was the era of the cassette, which is not even mentioned by Bragg.
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2 thoughts on “The musical record again: literally this time”

  1. Vinyl might be the only medium that survives, but it’s as useless as a file using an obsolete data format if you don’t have the reader/decoder technology (turntable, speed control, stylus, amp, etc).

    Maybe all we need to make digital stuff survive is find a medium to store the 1s and 0s in a long-term stable way, like braille, in some sort of plastic instead of using magnetic media? If this medium came with a USB port, I’d dump my MP3s out to it in a blink.

    At least then it would be as stable as vinyl (ie. stored analogue-ly), moving the question from ‘stability’ to the ‘ability to decode’.

  2. Vinyl records aren’t nearly as useless as obsolete digital formats — if you don’t mind damaging the record, you can always get some sound using just a stick, a pin, and a paper cone.

    It’s also interesting to consider that the vinyl grooves hold high-resolution, uncompressed data, so each 12-inch disc holds the equivalent of at least 400MB! (40 minutes x 10MB/min for a 44.1k stereo AIFF file; this is a conservative estimate — the vinyl actually carries much more sonic detail) So a four-foot-long shelf of records holds over 125GB.

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