Twelve years!

It’s amazing but true. It has now been twelve years since I first published my website Rarebird’s Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews. At first thought, it doesn’t seem as if it was that long ago. But then I start to think in depth about how much has changed since that time, especially as far as the music industry is concerned. In 1999, there was no such thing as iTunes, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter. Music was sold mainly on CD’s. Audiocassettes were just going out of fashion at that time, and controversies over online music file sharing were just beginning to heat up. Brick-and-mortar stores like Tower Records were still the places where most music was purchased, although online CD sales were certainly picking up speed. Also, many CD’s were purchased by mail through clubs like Columbia House and BMG Music Service. I used to love visiting my local used record stores to find rare and out-of-print recordings, although I had just recently discovered the joys of eBay and GEMM in '99. Do you know how I used to check which albums were in or out of print in the early days of my website? It was very easy: I would check to see which titles were currently available for sale at CDNow, an online music retailer that sold every CD in print – and only the CD’s that were in print. If a title was not available from CDNow, I immediately determined that it was suitable for review on my website.

Flash forward twelve years later. Songs and albums are largely sold by way of internet downloads. CD sales have been steeply declining. Many brick-and-mortar music retailers – including the once-mighty Tower Records – have gone out of business. Some people are predicting a complete end to in-store CD sales in the near future. The Columbia House CD club was acquired years ago by its competitor BMG, and BMG (which is now called is shutting down at the end of June. Used record stores and independent music stores are becoming rarer. And did I mention the long-forgotten CDNow? That online CD store was bought out many years ago by (which was primarily a seller of books back in the ‘90’s).

Ironically, one very interesting thing has recently happened which seems incongruous next to many of these trends: a vinyl resurgence! Two decades after the music industry did its very best to kill off the vinyl LP format, a new appreciation has come about for 12-inch and 7-inch vinyl discs. Many people who have forgotten how much fun it can be to collect vinyl – not to mention younger folks who don’t even remember vinyl’s heyday – have (re-)discovered the fascination of watching a record spin on a turntable, as well as the forgotten beauty of LP cover art. For someone who is used to mp3’s and small CD packaging, it can be fascinating to look at a 12-inch album cover, liner notes, and sometimes even a gatefold sleeve – and then realize that there is music inside the package, too! Turntables and accessories have become easier to purchase, and small indie record stores are able to highlight vinyl records to their advantage. Personally, I never gave up my hobby of collecting vinyl, and I was dreading the day when records and turntables would really become obsolete. Fortunately, that day now seems much farther away. Time will tell how long this vinyl resurgence will last. In the meantime, it’s a breath of fresh air for me.

So, what effect do these trends have on my website? Is the site’s concept any more or any less meaningful after so many changes in the music world? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that one. I do know one thing: I plan to keep my site up and running for many years to come. Thanks for your support!