Intern of the Week Opinion: LP, EP, IP?

Zack Trahan:

(L)ong (P)layer, (E)xtended (Player), (I)nfinite (P)layer?

As gramophone and vinyl records were developed throughout the 20th century, their play lengths varied between about 5 minutes to 60 minutes based off of the record size, width of the grooves speed of the player, etc.

When Phillips and Sony first developed the compact disc format in the late 1970s, they specifically set its maximum length at 74 minutes to ensure that a single disc could hold all of Beethoven’s 9th symphony.

Now in the age of the mp3, a single audio file can play virtually for ever.

Many artists are left wondering whether to embrace this infinite play time as a new level of artistic freedom or a destruction of one of the defining parameters of modern music making.

In a recent interview with pitchfork.com, indie music icon Sufjian Stevens ruminates at what seems to be a “creative crossroads”:

“I feel that the album no longer has a stronghold or has any real bearing anymore. The physical format itself is obsolete; the CD is obsolete and the LP is kinda nostalgic.
I’m wondering, what’s the value of my work once these forms are obsolete and everyone’s just downloading music?”

His attitude may be a bit dismal, but Stevens addresses an important point: How much longer will the 74-minute format govern musical creation?
.

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