The Stealthy Rise Of The Most Idiosyncratic Medium For Music

The Stealthy Rise Of The Most Idiosyncratic Medium For Music

Amid dying music sales, vinyl records have been making a surprising comeback in recent years.
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Music is an important part of my life; I need it, as do plenty of other people. We relate to music. Music helps us feel that we're not alone when something goes wrong, such as a relationship going sour or the passing of a loved one. We have music for when we're partying, music for when we're trying to study, and music for when we want to have a cup of coffee and relax. Music is a necessity for many people. We need music to get through the day, and it appears that the way we listen to music is changing ever so slightly: vinyl is making a comeback.

For a long time, vinyl records were the only medium for listening to music at home. CDs were introduced in the 1980s and it appeared that vinyl was going to fade into the dark; an obsolete technology, an antique. Then the iTunes store was launched in 2003, and it appeared that digital music would become the go to medium for music consumption. Digital music made it possible to buy any song and listen to it instantly without leaving your desk, and the iPod and other mp3 players made it possible to carry unheard of amounts of music with you everywhere, eliminating the need for anything physical at all. Now, in 2015, streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have become incredibly popular, up by over 50%, according to in a piece for The New York Times, and on the consumer side, that's great. On the artist side, not so much. Artists don't make much off of Spotify streaming unless their music is streamed a lot, and according to Lizzie Plaugic in a piece for the Verge, that's often the fault of record companies, not so much Spotify... But that's another topic. While these new services are the main way most people listen to music nowadays, a different branch of music consumption is making a surprising comeback, and that branch is vinyl.

CD sales have begun to decline, and while vinyl sales still make up a minuscule part of the market, they are beginning to increase rapidly, by as much as 50% in 2014, according to a piece on Forbes by Hugh McIntyre, and this rise is continuing in 2015. It seems strange, considering CDs and digital music basically demolished this seemingly "inconvenient" and "antique" form of music consumption. However, there are plenty of logical reasons vinyl has become more popular in recent years. One of these reasons is sound quality. Vinyl is known for its characteristic "warm and fuzzy" sound, and this is prevalent because of the imperfections of analogue sound production. It's simply part of the technology, and this is one of the main reasons many people believed that CDs would, in other words, put vinyl out of its misery. CDs produce a "perfect" digital sound, because CDs have a much larger frequency range, stretching much higher and lower than the frequency range of vinyl. This can be seen as a positive or a negative, however, because many people seem to prefer the imperfect, fuzzy sound of a vinyl record.

Another reason vinyl may be making a comeback is the sheer physicality of the medium. Ask anyone who collects records: there is something about the process of purchasing, listening to, and collecting vinyl records. The large, beautiful artwork on the cardboard sleeves is reason enough for a purchase. Records also often come with large lyrics sheets and occasionally posters. Then there is the almost ritualistic method of listening to vinyl; gently taking it out of the sleeve, placing it on the turntable, lifting the needle to just the right spot and gently letting it down, and finally, listening. With CDs, it's easy to skip a song and shuffle through them, but with a record, this isn't the case. Since it isn't as easy as the push of a button to change tracks on a record player, you're forced to listen to the album all the way through each side, which is often how the artist intends their music to be heard. Oh, and the flipping of the record after each side is finished... Just another enjoyable part of the process.

There are two record stores in New Hartford; Reimagine Records and Music n More. There is also one in Utica; Off Center Records. All three of these stores have great collections of records and CDs to look through, and the owners of all three of the shops are great, interesting people with their own tastes and style, which they are more than happy to discuss with you and even recommend where to start your record collection. There are also plenty of other great ways to start your collection. You can often buy records straight from the online stores for your favorite band or from their record labels. You could join monthly record clubs such as VinylMePlease. VinylMePlease picks one record each month they feel should be an essential part of everyone's collection, and they press special, exclusive, limited edition versions of the album they choose, and they include cocktail recipes that they feel match the mood of each individual record.

Also, with Black Friday coming up, it's a great time to learn about Record Store Day. Record Store Day is an event that happens on the third Saturday of April each year. However, they also have a Black Friday special each year, with exclusive versions of records and often special RSD only releases. If your family has a record player lying around somewhere or you are interested in all the hype surrounding vinyl, now is a fantastic time to try them out. Your favorite band more likely than not

has a vinyl copy of their record for sale, and vinyl isn't just for mainstream hating hipsters. Besides, theres nothing wrong with liking something that seems a little unconventional. Vinyl may become an important part of the way you listen to and collect music.

Cover Image Credit: lumberjac

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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