Mild-Mannered Canadian Fury

Doug Stephen is Politely Peeved

"A Proposal For A System To Replace Ordinary Record Merchandising"

Fri, 12 Oct 2012 Ā«permalinkĀ»

Frank Zappa1, professional eccentrist and brilliant musician, makes a proposal for a music distribution system to abandon physical media, which he describes as such:

Ordinary phonograph record merchandising as it exists today is a stupid process which concerns itself essentially with pieces of plastic, wrapped in pieces of cardboard.

These objects, in quantity, are heavy and expensive to ship. The manufacturing process is complicated and crude. Quality control for the stamping of the discs is an exercise in futility. The system is subject to pilferage (as, in some instances, pressing ‘over-runs’ have been initiated, with the quantity pressed above the amount of the legitimate order removed from the premises and sold on the black market).

His alternative is a system to store items – which he refers to as the “Q.C.I.”, or Quality Catalog Items – digitally:

We propose to acquire the rights to digitally duplicate and store THE BEST of every record company’s difficult-to-move Quality Catalog Items [Q.C.I.], store them in a central processing location, and have them accessible by phone or cable TV, directly patchable into the user’s home taping appliances, with the option of direct digital-to-digital transfer to F-1 (SONY consumer level digital tape encoder), Beta Hi-Fi, or ordinary analog cassette (requiring the installation of a rentable D-A converter in the phone itself … the main chip is about $12).

And oh yeah. He did this when he was still alive. Back in 1983. Yes. Frank Zappa invented iTunes, the Internet of Things, and Smartphones. In 1983.

  1. Fucking Hot Rats, people. Hot. Rats.