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D.C. musicians on record-setting digital explosion

Friday - 1/4/2013, 3:24pm  ET

D.C. musicians speak on going digital, Part I

WTOP's Neal Augenstein

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D.C. musicians speak on going digital, Part II

WTOP's Neal Augenstein

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Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - When Nathan Strejeck and Teen Idles recorded the first-ever release on Dischord Records in 1980, it was 15 years before the Internet became popular.

Now, for the first time in history digital downloads have overtaken physical sales of CDs and vinyl, according to a report by Nielsen and Billboard.

The explosion of digital downloading brings a wide swath of reaction from Washington-area musicians.

"It really doesn't matter to me the technology that's used as long as people are buying music and going to see bands live," says Strejeck.

Strejeck sings on the Minor Disturbance EP.

"I still get royalties, regardless," says Danny Ingram, one of the founding members of D.C.'s punk movement, whose bands included Youth Brigade, Strange Boutique, and currently Dot Dash.

"In the old days, in the studio you would take it out to your car and listen to it in the car stereo on your cassette player, but nowadays you really have to factor in that people are gonna be typically listening through small, tinny speakers," says Ingram.

Jake Starr, former singer for Adam West and currently for Jake Starr and The Delicious Fullness isn't as accepting of the digital revolution.

"Having just a digital download on an iPod or mp3 player, y'know that's great when you're walking to and from the Metro," Starr said.

Starr thinks digital downloading gyps fans of much of the fun of buying music on vinyl.

"Just holding the record in your hand, looking at the sleeve, imagining seeing the band live, and just hearing that warm sound was just an amazing experience."

Mike Dolfi, bassist for Black Market Baby, one of D.C.'s most popular early punk bands is encouraged by a recent trend.

"Lots of kids nowadays are buying vinyl again. My 16-year-old daughter is getting into buying vinyl," says Dolfi.

Dolfi, like many, thinks digital recordings don't sound as good as analog, but believes it's more important to get a band's music in the ears of fans

"There's a loss in sound, but you can find the warmth if you have a great engineer. With downloading a song, it makes it so much easier for everybody to get the songs they like."

The local musicians are divided on whether the method of distribution alters the songs they choose to record, since many digital music consumers purchase one favorite song, rather than an entire album.

"I think bands are kind of geared toward releasing an album of new material," says Strejeck.

"When you're mixing, you're almost thinking, 'How is this going to sound over someone's computer or someone's iPhone,'" says Ingram.

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