Tuesday, May 02, 2006

5 Non-Musical Ways to Ruin An Album

All aspiring musicians/art directors out there, here are 5 ways to make me dislike your album before hearing a note of it:

1) Not numbering the tracklisting.

When i grab a CD from my shelt and i want to hear "The Humpty Dance," i want to know what track i have to go to instantly, and not count down from the top to find what track i want. This is the most common thing about CDs that drives me nuts.

2) Not having a tracklist/Having a hard to read tracklist on the back of your CD

This is equally stupid for many reasons. 1) In a store setting, if i'm looking for which Ramones album has "Judy is a Punk" on it, i'm going to flip over the CDs and check the back. If you don't put a tracklisting on the back, or put one so unbelievably hard to read, you're going to lose the casual customer. Plus, it's just plain annoying. Your album has plenty of places to be obscure and artsy, but a numbered, easy to read tracklisting is one place to be boring.

3) Have packaging that doesn't easily fit into a CD holder.

I'm cool with jewel casesor digipacks, or even the plain sleeves (super slim, CD slides right out) that some CDs come in, but if you think you're cool (cough Morrissey cough) by releasing out a CD in a sleeve shaped like a 7" picture sleeve, you're just going to piss me off. I bought my CD shelves to hold CDs, and you're not following with the program. This is like if a car company decided to come out with an inferior car that has no place lining up next to other cars because they are so big and guzzle so much gas and were brought over to this country bcause of an action star/governor...

4) Make it difficult for me to remove the disc.

There is a great avant-jazz label called Cryptogramophone that puts out records by Scott Amendola, Nels Cline, etc. and their albums all come in a fold-out digipack, which looks beautiful. The difficulty lies in the fact that the CD itself is not in a nice handy-dandy plastic doohicky that has the raise center w/ the teeth so you can just push the CD down on top of it. It has a sleeve to put the CD in - but you can't get to it from the open edge - only the edge that is attached to the rest of the case - therefore, getting a CD in/out is a pain in the ass, and to me, increases chances of scratching the disc. I've burned copies of my Cryptogramophone discs and leave them in my office so that i don't have to go through the daily grind of a difficult birth just to hear some weird guitar playing. It shouldn't have to come to that.

5) Have Shitty Liner Notes

I know not everyone out there scours liner notes like they're reading a treasure map, but i like to know who played what on what track, who wrote/produced/mixed each track, what the lyrics are, where/when i was recorded, and any other info you're willing to give me. One of my favorite album packaging is Paul McCartney's FLAMING PIE. For each song there is a track length (love it), extensive notes on the writing/recording of them, and a comment from Sir Paul on each track. Ditto for Frank Black and the Catholics' DOG IN THE SAND, which has a breakdown of who plays what on each track, as well as some photos and lyrics.

Follow these simple rules folks and you will quickly become on the road to pleasing Brian with every disc you release. Unless your music sucks.

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