When you listen to music through a streaming music service, how aware are you of what it is you’re listening to? Sure, you can look at the screen, but what does that tell you? The name of the artist, the name of the song, maybe the name of the album–and that’s about all.
But say you’re intrigued by a song and you want to know more. That means you have to disengage and start searching the internet. Wikipedia is often surprisingly accurate when it comes to learning more about an artist, a song, or an album. You can also learn who produced it, who the engineer was, the name of the studio, the supporting musicians, and so forth.
I mean, it does the job, but this is kinda…lacking, if you know what I mean.
And if you want lyrics, you have to search other sites, Again, most of these sites do a decent job, but you still have to take these extra steps.
I’ll just say it. I miss liner notes. I miss being able to sort through all the printing in a CD booklet or the packaging that comes with a vinyl record. There’s something mysteriously cool about learning something about the artist or the music by finding something buried in the liner notes.
Writing and compiling and illustrating this text and visual information used to be a big deal. People were paid good money and even won awards for writing liner notes. The industry had specialists for this sort of thing.
But as we get deeper and deeper into the digital era, liner notes are disappearing along with the concept of B-sides, bonus tracks, and album artwork. It’s all part of the evolution of music culture.
This is the final episode in a series marking these changes. This is digital debris, part 3: the disappearing liner notes.
Songs heard on this show:
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