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Jake Shears Headshot

A Shift in Music

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The music industry has changed drastically in recent years. I started noticing the shift when -- one by one -- my favorite record stores in NYC began to close. I used to go to a record store about three times a week and scour shelves for the classic rock CDs that I didn't have already. I was always on the hunt to discover new and rare albums, tending to like artists' stranger, forgotten records. It was a score whenever I came across, you know, something like the Christine Mcvie solo record. Then my favorite shops started to close. First it was Spotlight in the East Village, where I would find all those bizarre movie soundtracks that you'd never find anywhere else: the soundtrack to Bugsy Malone, Divine Madness, the score from Dressed to Kill. Then the Virgin Megastore closed in Union Square. I remember looking at a stack of CDs sitting next to my stereo and thinking "Wow, it's really over." I started buying vinyl more and using turntables in my house. I found it really relaxing and contemplative when I just wanted to take some time on a particular record. Then about a year and a half ago, I started using Rdio.

The concept of a music subscription service had never been appealing to me before. Once I started using one, I really discovered the appeal. I now had access to all my tunes and a lot more that I could essentially carry with me everywhere. When I wanna play something at a friend's house, my whole collection is immediately at my fingertips. Now, if I'm not listening to vinyl in my house, I'm using this to listen to all my music.

Every week I scour all of the new releases again like I used to do in a record store, piling them up and going through them, keeping the ones worth a second go and releasing the ones that didn't quite catch my ear. I also get to see what other people are listening to and have discovered some incredible records by folks like Young Galaxy, Ford and Lopatin, Kurt Vile, Real Estate, and Scuba. And I love making playlists of new stuff and have a list going for every season, that I'm adding to and pulling from, so it's an always a constant work in progress. Once I'm ready to start a new one, I leave the current list as is and don't touch it again. It's a great diary of what I've been listening to.

There's clearly a shift in the way people are buying music now and I can't help but think about how that affects me as an artist. Now that I have this kind of music access, I've pretty much stopped using iTunes. But I haven't stopped buying music because when there's an album I really like, I still head to Rebel Rebel in the West Village and buy it on vinyl. Does this mean music is being devalued? To a certain extent, yes. But what's the way around it? When Amazon is selling new records for $3.99, $1.00 or even 25 cents, not to mention people who just steal music. There's no doubt that when it comes to people buying music, the pie has gotten a hell of a lot smaller for artists. But the thing about subscription music and why I think other artists will grow to embrace the model -- is that it's a great way for people to discover your music and tell other people about it. There are so many possibilities with the format and the potential here is massive.

The new Scissor Sisters' album, "Magic Hour," comes out in May 29, 2012.