Guest Blog: “It’s not about buying music” – How Trace Repeat made Floppy Discs cool again

Photo by Cecilia Silvestre Photography

“It’s not about buying music.” How Trace Repeat made Floppy Discs cool again

It started off as a joke, to be honest. Earlier this year, our Oakland-based Motown soul and funk band Trace Repeat took on the ambitious task of printing our new album “The Oaktown Sound” on CD and 12-inch vinyl. Two master revisions, countless artwork updates, three months of manufacturing time, and $4,000 worth of debt later, we finally had our record ready to sell on yet another form of extinct media. Because let’s face it. We all end up listening on Spotify anyway, right?

In an acknowledgement of this plight, we decided to fully lean into the battle of extinct media consumption, and printed 1.44MB versions of our album on 3.5 inch floppy disc (copies of our vinyl, CD, and floppy disc are on our online store, at http://igg.me/at/TraceRepeat). Here’s what we learned:

1. Physical media is all about owning a token of proof that you were there.

Because again, in the end, really you’re just going to go home and stream the record on Spotify. But you can’t hang a digital download on the wall, and a YouTube playlist doesn’t prove how much of a fan you are, either. The reality is, this isn’t about buying music anymore. It’s about going home after a great concert, and having a little piece of the night that you can take home with you. Sort of like the ticket stubs you used to save in scrapbooks, or the posters you used to hang on your bedroom wall.

2. CDs are still king.

Believe it or not, a lot of people still own CD players. But again, owning a copy of “The Oaktown Sound” isn’t about buying music. It’s about having a tangible piece of Trace Repeat in your hands when you first hit play on our record. It’s about liner notes, production credits, and gleaming every last bit of information that you can from a record that you’re absolutely obsessed with.

3. Vinyl is cool, but only if the artwork is dope too.

Because it bears repeating, this isn’t about buying music. We had the artwork for our record done by one of the most talented artists in Oakland right now, Nick Francis (Fantastic Negrito, Angel Haze, and others). We saw his unique take on collage aesthetics, and fell in love with his style. I think ultimately, the incredible artwork and layout design that Nick did for our record was critical to making our vinyl a success.  If physical media is all about owning a piece of the night, a 12-inch vinyl designed by one of the dopest artists in Oakland is a damn good token to go home with, even if you’re vinyl player’s buried in your closet somewhere.

Trace Repeat are a 6-piece Oakland based funk and soul band (think: Bruno Mars) who are not only bringing you music that’ll get you up and moving (it is seriously catchy), but that brings attention to a much larger issue—Asian American stereotypes. It’s a cause that has gained them attention on NBC News, The Huffington Post, and Mother Jones, and led to the funding (and then some) of their IndieGoGo campaign within the first week of launching, resulting in their campaign being featured on IndieGoGo’s trending page. Their new album, ‘The Oaktown Sound’, sees them reviving the aesthetics of their Motown forefathers: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and the tempting Temptations, to create a throwback album packed with James Brown references, Al Green harmonies, and Prince vocal runs. It’s also an album that pays homage to their roots—Oakland. Grab ‘The Oaktown Sound’ out now.

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