Grinds My Gears: Vinyl Digital Downloads

Recently, I purchased The Avalanche‘s new album Wildflower on vinyl. I did so because it was an album that I felt that I had to own on wax and

8 years ago

Recently, I purchased The Avalanche‘s new album Wildflower on vinyl. I did so because it was an album that I felt that I had to own on wax and I didn’t want to end up having a situation where I couldn’t acquire it at a later date (Except on Discogs for the great price of way too fucking expensive) like their first album. It was a purchase I thought that I could be confident in until I found out one important thing: The LP didn’t include a download code for the record. You know what? That really grinds my gears.

How, in this day and age, are you not going to include a download code with a vinyl record? You know, some people don’t carry their turntables with them on the way to work or out on their daily runs. Even if I did get that sweet record player that plugs into my car’s cigarette lighter on sale at Bed Bath & Beyond, I should still be able to have a digital copy of the record so I get the same consistent quality with every listen because, you know, vinyl has the potential to warp, degrade or get scratches on the surface that can alter how the music sounds/plays. Hell, at some point I may just want to be lazy and listen to the album as the artist(s) intended without having to flip the record and/or switch discs. Even if that were the case, I should still be given the album on a convenient format since I spent the extra money to buy it on an inconvenient one.

You would think the first problem was ridiculous enough, but guess what? It gets worse. Sometimes you’ll buy an album that WILL come with a digital download code and when you go to download the music, you find out that the record company gave you a low quality download. That’s right, they (probably) sold you “audiophile” quality vinyl just to give you a download that has a bitrate of 192kbps, which is the lowest bitrate that meets acceptable listening standards by the way. This happened when I picked up Converge‘s Axe to Fall on single LP and happened again when I bough As Tall As Lions debut album that was reissued in 2014 on single LP. It’s almost like they think that just because you bought the album on vinyl, that you don’t care about the quality of the music. It’s not like I spent $20+ on music that I can get digitally for $9.99, and sometimes less, most places.

Honestly, I don’t expect this post to change anything about whether or not I receive a high-quality digital download with an LP, or one at all for that matter. That’s up to the record companies and since most of them still haven’t responded to my letters about signing my harsh noise project Tater Salad Heat Death, I’m not holding my breath for a response. However, I do think that it may lead others to start thinking just how crazy it is that in 2016 you aren’t receiving a digital copy of an album that you paid a premium for and can only listen to in one specific area with a specific set of equipment. I’m not even asking that you press a CD for me. I just want a little slip of paper with a link to a website that allows me to actually listen to my purchased music when it’s convenient for me. If that can’t happen, I won’t be too mad, just know that it really, really grinds my gears.

Ryan Castrati

Published 8 years ago