Slipknot’s Chris Fehn Opines: “People Don’t Really Care Anymore About Sound Quality”
Slipknot percussionist/nasal masturbator Chris Fehn is the latest prominent metal musician to risk looking like a silly old man to his fans by arguing that things were better in the good old days. From a new interview with Rock Sins:
“[I]t’s really sad that record labels are struggling because they can’t…they’re just…it’s all the internet. People don’t really care anymore about sound quality. It’s just eaten up so fast and it’s so easy. You know, I’m guilty of it too. I’ll buy records off iTunes just because I’m in my car and I want it right now and I do it. I do also have a huge CD collection. I still do buy CDs but I think…”
This is actually the one convincing argument against the digital era that I’ve heard (and it applies not just to music, but film as well) — what we’ve gained in convenience, we’ve lost in caliber. There are ways around it, like FLAC files, but a) most digital sales outlets don’t sell FLAC files (another reason Bandcamp is superior to iTunes, Amazon, etc.), b) I don’t know of any digital streaming outlets that utilize FLAC files.
(I guess I should also mention that the size of FLAC files can be unwieldy. But I don’t think that’s such a major deal. You can keep an external drive for your music library at home, and, if you’re willing to accept the quality loss when you’re mobile, use streaming services like Spotify on the road. Or just keep less music on your mp3 player. Either way, easy peasy.)
But here’s the thing: Fehn is also right that people care about convenience, and at this point, when iTunes is over a decade old, we’re well past the point of no return — we’ve spoiled the child and now we have to deal with the fact that he wants his candy now, goddamnit.
And on top of that, the vast majority of all music listeners just don’t readily hear the difference in quality. From their perspective, the Katy Perry song they just bought on iTunes was cheap, downloaded in seconds, sounds great through their iPhone headphones, and is now in a cloud, where it can never be damaged or lost.
(And by the way, all of this applies to illegal downloads, too. I don’t have any official stats, but I’d wager that lower-quality mp3s are far more heavily pirated than FLAC files. Even when getting something for free, people are impatient.)
So I guess my point is this: call me defeatist, but I think Fehn is basically ruining his throat screaming into the wind. This cat is out of the bag, and it’s never going back in.