“Sonic Highways” Equals Highway Robbery for Music Fans

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So yesterday afternoon I made a video for Youtube (the link to which should now be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-X7IjpNLVg8OpeoqML38pQ) praising Dave Grohl and his band the Foo Fighters for upcoming studio LP “Sonic Highways”. To briefly sum up that video, I saw the ever-vigilant Fighters of Foo take on late night television Monday night with Zac Brown (of the Zac Brown Band) for a scalding rendition of the Black Sabbath classic “War Pigs”. That then inspired some deep musical introspection into the inner workings of “Highways”, it’s music (8 songs in 8 separate studios) and the 8-part HBO miniseries that’ll be accompanying the buzz starting this week all the way until release day. I then proceeded to rave about Grohl’s work (that I have yet to fully see) on prior documentary “Sound City” , and how the teaser for the miniseries seems to be a heavenly collection of artists, interviews, and a look at music through the wide lens of culture that was not to be missed.

Not to spoil the video or anything, but I get pretty excited about it.

And while I’m still highly intrigued by the concept and overall hype of “Sonic Highways”, my enthusiasm has been somewhat dimmed by the worst part of the music business. Namely, that of being the consumer. Because while it may still be fun to talk about this kind of deeply thoughtful endeavor, the price tag that comes with OWNING an actual piece of it…. is a separately baffling story.

You see I took a little visit to Foofighters.com last night to look into preorders for the new album, and found shipping rates that could only be described as a hideous level of greedy. Even the simplest items like LP’s and CD’s were nearly doubled in total price, and as a frequent shopper of online vinyl it’s a rare day that I see a $23 record come tacked on with a $20 shipping rate. And while I’m sure someone somewhere might try to raise the old protest of “higher quality shipping methods protect delicate product”, the band and anyone associated with putting this out ought to be ashamed of how it’s been done.

It’s a disrespect and a disservice of fans both casual and loyal, fans who might want to give a band they love or respect money for what they’ve created that will now be driven away to Amazon or other retailers due to these steep prices. And while some of those retailers might be independent record stores so desperately deserving of the customers, the point is it’s not good or fair business. I don’t care if you offer up the Christ-like locks of Grohl himself as some sort of demented Wonka-esque golden ticket, the moment a die hard Foo Fighters fan hands over even MORE of a hard-earned paycheck to a very successful band doing arena tours just to pay shipping…. is the moment you’ve done wrong by the people that helped land you where you are in the first place.

I don’t about you, but I’d prefer to take my chances in the world of the retailers and save my money for the bands and labels that do right by the customers that love them. And while I certainly know I’ll still listen to the music of “Sonic Highways” and appreciate whatever it may be (or not), this aspect is nothing short of a disappointment.

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