Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Digitizing Our Music Heritage

Music Conversion Is A Hot Commodity

By Robert Benson

The resurgence of vinyl records has followed many paths. From the ‘indie’ bands, who release colored vinyl or limited edition LP’s to the ‘classic rock’ artists who are re-releasing iconic albums, the role of vinyl records in our music landscape is changing.

Yes, people love their records, but there is a problem with vinyl, it is not portable. In the ‘iPod age’ music consumers want the convenience of digital music, but there is also a place for their treasured vinyl. In fact, we are seeing more and more ways to ‘convert’ vinyl to digital formats, to keep up with the digital age. USB turntables are flying off the shelves as well as all sorts of computer programs to help make records portable.

And seizing on this opportunity, there are a multitude of websites being made to allow music consumers to bypass the technical aspects of vinyl conversion to CD or MP3 formats. One such website,, is taking advantage of this boon by offering simple ‘sound packages’ where music lovers can have their vinyl records transferred onto CD or to MP3. I spoke with Heather of about their new endeavor to provide quality audio transfer services.

“We love music,” said Heather. “I play the guitar and love acoustic music, but my husband (Neil) is partial to punk, so we have quite an eclectic array of sounds in our household. We also realize that our customers love their music as well, therefore, we are guided by three simple principles to help bring their music to the 21st century.”

“We feel that our customers deserve to relive their music collections without having to max out a credit card, so the first thing we did was make our transfer services affordable,” detailed Heather. “Second, you should not have to suffer through a dizzying array of order options, add-ons and other charges, so we have made it very easy and simple; just choose the sound package that fits your needs. Our last principle is that we offer quality service, the customer is not just an order number and we can adapt to a specific need.”

I asked Heather why her and her husband decided to ‘open shop’ and provide this music transfer service.

“We grew up listening to records with our grandparents, from Disney stories to classical music. So, when these collections were passed down to us, we just had to find a way to share these pieces of family history with our own children,” detailed Heather. “So from our own family requesting the service offtherecord-online got started after we began offering our transferring services as a silent auction item for several local charities. We continue to support these charities, particularly Cottonwood Preschool and the SUDC (Sudden Unexpected Death in Children) Research fund. We also discovered that there were many music lovers out there that were looking for a way to transfer their cherished vinyl records to CD or MP3- without spending a small fortune. So we decided to go online and offer our services to music lovers in an affordable manner without compromising the sound quality-it is our top priority.”

But, with all the copyright laws and problems that come with re-recording music, is this all legal?

“In short, yes,” explained Heather. “A person has the legal right to make personal copies of music that they are in legal possession of, so it is certainly not illegal to pay someone to help you do it. That being said, we do insist that as part of this service a customer must fill out our legal waiver form stating that they are the sole possessor of the music that we are transferring and that they have no intention of distributing any copies that we make, for profit or otherwise.”

I inquired about the sound quality that offtherecord-online can provide.

“We guarantee our work and want our customers to be 100% satisfied. You will be impressed with the quality of music that comes through from the electronic cleaning process,” said Heather. “Our services literally bring new life and clarity to our customers cherished vinyl records. However, we also realize that by electronically ‘cleaning the music’ that too much can actually degrade the quality of the music, so it is our policy to strive for the best sound and find the optimum balance between removing as much of the pops, hisses and clicks that we can; while still preserving the original integrity of the records.”

“We also only accept a limited number of orders at once, so we can take the time to provide the customer with superb music quality and sound,” assured Heather.

So as this service becomes more popular and offtherecord-online starts to build a strong customer base, record lovers can rest easy that their beloved vinyl records are in capable hands. After all, this isn’t ‘rocket science,’ although the transfer services are being handled by one (Neil works as an aerospace engineer).

Offtherecord-online sample CD

Furthermore, archiving and conserving these old records is the ultimate way to preserve them. And offtherecord-online goes to great lengths to preserve the ‘look’ and integrity of the whole album, including front and back scans of the particular album cover for the jewel case inserts and even recording the albums on a CD that looks like a vinyl 45rpm record.

So as we listen to our ‘new recordings,’ we can rest easy knowing that it isn’t all about the money for, but rather it is all about the most important element of their services, the love of the music.

Laverne & Shirley Album

A while ago I picked up a unique record album called "Laverne & Shirley Sing." Back in the 70's, there was a trio of girls who appeared on the "Gong Show," and they went on and simulated a 'sex act' by licking popsicles very sensually. I was living in the EST time zone, so I was able to actually see this, as it was then caught by the censors and removed from the show for subsequent time zones and repeats. So, taking their cue from this infamous event, this image pokes a bit of fun on an incident that, at the time, caused quite a stir.

This Day In Music History- Feb 13

In 1973, the ‘fifth Beatle’ Billy Preston, hit #1 with the song "Will It Go Round in Circles" and #4 with "Space Race."

Buffalo Springfield's legendary “best-of album,” 'Retrospective', was released in 1969. It was later certified platinum, surpassing sales of one million.

Today in 1999, the song "Angel Of Mine" by Monica topped the charts and stayed there for 4 weeks.

Vocalist Henry Rollins (Black Flag/Henry Rollins Band) was born in Washington, D.C. in 1961.

Recorded in three days and costing less that $2,000 to produce, “Black Sabbath,” the group’s self-titled debut album, was unleashed on an unsuspecting world in 1970.

In 1973, "Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite," the soundtrack to an Elvis Presley TV Special, goes gold. Not surprising, since the program, broadcast two weeks earlier, was seen by more than one billion viewers.

The Country & Western duo of Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery (Buddy & Bob) opened for Elvis Presley at a show in Lubbock, Texas in 1955.

The late "Tennessee" Ernie Ford ("Sixteen Tons") was born in 1919.

Peter Gabriel ("Games Without Frontiers" and one-time member of Genesis) turns 57.

Waylon Jennings died of complications from diabetes in 2002. At 21, he was a member of Buddy Holly's band who gave up his plane seat to the Big Bopper just before the doomed flight took off on February 3rd, 1959.

In 1981, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon’ became the longest-running rock album on the Billboard albums chart. It was on the charts for an amazing 402 weeks. But it still had a few more years to go before it beats Johnny Mathis, whose ‘Greatest Hits’ was on the chart for a whopping 490 weeks.

Led Zeppelin fans in Singapore were disappointed when the group was forced to cancel a concert there in 1972. Drugs? Immoral behavior? Foul mouths? Naw, the conservative country's officials wouldn't let the band members get off the plane because their hair was too long.

The Beatles released their definitive double-A-sided single, "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields," in the 1967. It reached No. 1 in the States, but in their homeland, it made it only to No. 2.

Monkee Peter Tork was born in Washington, D.C., as Peter Halsten Thorkelston in 1942 (No wonder he changed it to ‘Tork’).

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (known as ASCAP) was formed in New York City in 1914. The society was founded to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members.

In 1957, Cuban officials announced a ban on all Rock & Roll programs on television, calling the music "offensive to public morals and good customs." They would soften their stance a couple of days later, but strict guide lines were put in place.

In 1961, Lawrence Welk gave hope to Rock & Roll hating parents when his instrumental "Calcutta" went to the top of the Billboard chart.

The Doors' "Touch Me" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People" were awarded gold records in 1969.

In 1971, six weeks after its chart debut, "One Bad Apple" by The Osmonds, reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed at #1 for 5 weeks. It was the first of ten Top 40 hits for the group.

In 1986, Rolling Stone magazine published the only known photograph of Blues legend Robert Johnson. (the photo was taken in a coin-operated photo booth in the early 30’s).