Obsolescence, Monetization, and Zen & The Art Of Guitar-Never-Upgrading

Random Geek Complaints!

1. I am very fond of my antiquated 2008 Apple laptop and do not wish to upgrade. Ever. But I must eventually as this machine will expire. And I will then have to get a new one and be sad. Why can’t it be like a well made guitar, that just works forever if you take care of it? No, everything electronic must be upgraded, thrown away, replaced, so that we may have more landfill and less peace of mind. It’s important. I understand. I am one with the Borg.

Actual footage of the Interwebs main hub running at peak capacity

2. As part of my experiment in using a non-stealthy browser to see what the hamsters that run the Interwebs will do, I have observed that they like to show me ads for things I have already bought. As well of course, as ads for things I have merely looked at. If you hit some store sites even once, then instantly their ads are everywhere. I’m sure the best minds in advertising and marketing have conventions to discuss and argue the efficacy of this. But for me, there’s actually a backlash effect. You see, I might have bought some shoes yesterday from one particular site, but no, their ads are annoying, it creeped me out that they “followed” me, and just no. It turned me off. So, there they inadvertently spent a few pennies to lose my business. How does that figure into the great revenue model in the sky? Am I an anomaly in this regard? God this is good coffee. I got it from Peet’s. Now if I publish this post, will Peet’s wallop me with ads? Well, nothing will stop me from buying their product. So I suppose it all depends how motivated one is in the first place.

I never thought I’d be in the advertising business. But it seems we all are now, all of us “content providers,” and we would like our content to be “monetized” somehow, thank you. Bands, songwriters, music publishers, authors, bloggers, etc. are “providers of digital content.” One can choose to be utterly horrified, or one can embrace it. I choose both. Anyway, yesterday there was a great April Fools day post on Digital Music News with the headline:

Spotify To Pay Musicians $1 Per Play

I guffawed. It’s an ongoing battle in the music biz, in which companies attempt to make money off of other peoples’ copyrights and recordings, and pay as little as possible for the right to do that. It’s also an odd moment now where it becomes increasingly clear that the “lean forward” music “user” is a rare bird indeed. Most people are “lean back” music “users” (I just have to put those terms in quotes, or my intestines will leap out my nostrils), meaning they lean back and let others present music to them. They are not scouring the bins at Amoeba or digging through the blog-o-sphere looking for new music discoveries, most people are simply not doing that these days. And who can blame them? There are things like global warming, rent and mortgages, tuitions and vet bills and the existence of Sarah Palin to consider. And of course the lean-forward crowd is largely made of young folks, who generally have less money to spend, and they are also accustomed to the idea that music is readily available for free. What a pickle.

Changing The Subject To FUN Things Involving MAKING Music! Which is still fun.

I have the same guitar I have played since 1983. It was a gift from my Uptones bandmate Charles Stella. He received it as a gift from John Oates of Hall and Oates fame, who had received it as a gift from the luthier who built it. It didn’t work so well for their hands, but it immediately worked magically for mine. So I borrowed it and I’ve been playing it ever since. I used it on a recording just this weekend with my Uptones bandmate Mike Stevens at Lost Monkey Studios, and it sounded beautiful. Guitars are funny that way, they are all so different. This is the only electric guitar I play now. Years ago I stopped using a Les Paul or Strat or anything else. I can do anything I want with this one slab o’ wood. The one modification? Recently I had Al Milburn remove the tone pot from the circuit. I never roll off any treble at the guitar anyway, so why have that capacitor and extra wire attached, degrading the signal a tiny bit? And yes, I noticed it sounded even a little better after we did this.

Fervent electric guitar pickup opinion alert!

I know many would disagree, but whatever, it’s music, so our subjective opinions rule, in our own little worlds, don’t they? Here goes: passive pickups are good, active pickups are bad. Active pickups (ones that require batteries) sound icky and squeaky clean, like I think a hospital smell would sound like, if it could. Use passive pickups. A single or double coil electromagnetic pickup. This invention was completed decades ago and has not been improved upon since. The electric guitar was perfected by the early 1960’s. Unlike laptops and phones, no need to upgrade, for a lifetime of playing happiness. If you need to get EMG’s or other active pickups, do so because you want to dispose of some money and acquire bad tone. Not because you believe some nonsense about a revolutionary new advancement in electric guitar tone technology. There are none. Tone doesn’t come from a fancy pickup or your amp or your cryogenically frozen alloy guitar strings. Tone comes from your fingers.

Hey, the laptoppy still works. Good. The space bar on this thing is worn through almost like Willie Nelson’s guitar. This post got long. That was good coffee.

Author: Eric Din

Eric makes songs, records, and little forts for cats to play in. Founder/lifer in The UPTONES, guitarist, songwriter, music teacher and music curator, Eric blogs at ericdin.com except when he doesn't.

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