I remember way back when I was growing up, when the actual day a record was released was the first time it was heard by just about anybody, aside from college radio and the indie zines and related press. What a wonderful day it was when the Afghan Whigs put out a new effort, or Silkworm unleashed another disc that would eventually break a label (ha).
Things are surely different now, not necessary in a bad way - just different. I like what labels like Jagjaguwar are doing to combat the digital download era, or at least find a space inside it that makes sense. With releasing the digital version early to those who pre-order the CD and also making available a demos bonus disc, they are attacking the digital era not by complaining and bitching about lost revenue - but instead by getting creative and dreaming up new ways to package and present physical media. Josh Ritter, who also has a new record coming out this month, is also trying a few different things. A pre-order gets you a bonus 4 track disc of unreleased stuff and a pre-order of a ticket to one of the shows on his fall tour gets you a download of the lead track on his new album. Again, clever, interesting and engaging the consumer - not whining about the state of the business. So maybe the CD will not die after all. Maybe the industry will run with these and other ideas and reinvent the way music is sold. It is said that necessasity breeds invention and well, the old guard music biz sure as hell needs to figure something out to remain relevant.
I look forward to opening up my mailbox this week to discover the physical "Stage Names" CD and the accompaying bonus disc of solo demo versions of each track. I can't wait to read through the lyrics and see the artwork (something OR records are quite known for by this point).
If you have never heard of Okkervil River, and it is still likely that you have not, give them a shot. Perfect music for fans of "literate" (not my term) rock like The Decemberists, Bright Eyes, etc.