Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kind of like the iPod... Only different.

The Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives hold a number of record label collections. The Fast Folk Musical Magazine Records include the Fast Folk label, primarily featuring singer-songwriters in New York’s Greenwich Village from 1982-1997. This group of musicians, headed by Jack Hardy and later by Richard Meyer, formed the Songwriters Exchange, which became the Musician’s CooP. Musicians met and discussed their songs at Jack Hardy's apartment and then performed in open microphone sessions at an informal club called the SpeakEasy. They subsequently recorded, produced, and distributed 105 albums of music with accompanying magazines. Fast Folk Musical Magazine was being produced at a time not unlike today, which was seeing momentous changes in technology.

Enter the Compact Disc. When Fast Folk first started as a label, songs were recorded and distributed solely on vinyl, though due to fluctuating costs and changes in the recording industry was finally forced to convert to a CD-only format. The opinions about this change oscillated wildly. While some welcomed the change, many subscribers and fans were unhappy, with one even accusing the changing magazine of selling out and becoming “the playground of the yuppie”.

Fast Folk received hundreds of responses regarding this change. These are the passionate opinions of select subscribers:

To a contemporary audience, the resistance to the CD can seem archaic and comical. The recording industry, however, is seeing very similar changes with the switch from CD to digital only formats and similar thoughts, feelings, and passionate opinions are evoked. Some are choosing a return to vinyl; Smithsonian Folkways has begun to re-release vinyl pressings to cater to the many fans who like the quality of the sound, often described as warmer.

How do you like your music?

-Nichole Procopenko, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

1 comment:

  1. Wow, rewind back to vinyl days.
    Look back, every technology revolution triggers a wave of resistance and struggle. Look how far we have come!