We music nerds really love facts like these: * Iggy Pop is the fellow providing guests vocals on the second to last song on the new Cat Power record called Sun. * The singer-songwriter behind the moniker Father John Misty (whose recent album Fear Fun is pretty great) is J. Tillman, former drummer for Fleet Foxes.
We feel a great sense of pride when we get to inform someone that Rolling Stones’ producer Jimmy Miller played drums on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” because Charlie Watts just couldn’t quite get the right feel. Like I said, we’re nerds.
But these days it’s increasingly harder to discover facts like these as the term “liner notes” moves ever higher on the endangered species list of the English language. Of course, this can be traced to the rapid rise of the digital download, and the Recording Academy wants to do something about this.
The group that presents the Grammy Awards recently launched a campaign they’re calling “Give Fans the Credit,” which will make sure that all music creators are given credit for their work on recordings that are released digitally.
“The staggering pace of digital innovation gives consumers access to more and more information but in this case – digitally released music without liner notes – the music fan is getting less information,” Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow said in a statement. “We can watch movies online with the credits included, and the same should be true for digitally released recordings. If music devices can access millions of tracks in the cloud, we’re confident we can find a way to acknowledge those who created the tracks here on earth.”
To help spread the word about this initiative, 12 musicians and other members of the music industry were named honorary ambassadors. Big names on this list include Jimmy Jam, Sheila E., and the great producers T Bone Burnett and Don Was.
This seems like a great idea, and it isn’t just because we love seeing “CD Mastering by Sage Audio” printed on the inside of a CD jacket or “Digital Mastering by Sage Audio” on digital liner notes.
No, we like this campaign because of the service liner notes provide to us music nerds and all other music fans. While I’m sure there are some business interests at play in the creation of this campaign, I like the words of Daryl Friedman, another Recording Academy executive. He presents the advantages of liner notes very well.
“Discovery is a key part of today’s digital music services,” Friedman said in the statement. “By knowing who wrote, produced and played on the tracks, consumers will be able to discover even more great music.”
And that’s what it’s all about. Cat Power fans should be using liner notes to discover the Stooges. Fleet Foxes’ fans should use them to discover the new music of a former member. The possibilities for liner notes are endless, and I for one will never tire of nerding out over them – so I hope they continue to be a mainstay of music, no matter how it’s released.