Drag City did not win Best Label of the Year Award at this past year's Plug Awards, the independent music award show similar to the Grammys or to the Billboard Awards, but independent, so with a much better list of nominees, winners, and performers. Sub Pop won, and good for them, but what I'm taking issue with is the fact that Drag City didn't even garner a nomination.
Let's see. What did Drag City do in 2006? Well, they released Ys by Joanna Newsom, The Letting Go by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, The Black Swan by Bert Jansch, II by Espers, The Sun Awakens by Six Organs of Admittance, Dat Rosa Mel Apibus by White Magic, and Introduction by The Red Krayola, not to mention The World's Funnyman DVD by Neil Hamburger. There was more, but you get the idea: a slew of quality releases, most of which saw the light of day on vinyl. That's the sort of thing one expects from Drag City. So, no nomination from the Plug Awards? Bad form. Tisk, tisk.
But maybe there's something to it. What many labels have done (or are in the process of doing) is "go digital," making songs, albums, etc. downloadable for a fee, so the technophile elite amongst us — those with laptops and cell phones, instead of CD and record players — can listen to, correction, hear music as well.
Drag City, it seems, has recently alluded to the possibility of going digital, turning the smooth, round, accurate sine waves of an analog source into rough, spiky, one-and-zero approximations. According to a news posting on their website, "Drag City has got her opposable toe in the water for sure — and variety still being the spice of life as it was back in the stone age (of the 60s), she'll continue to offer alternative formats as they come along. First it was 8-tracks, then came cassettes, then the CD revolution... now it's mp3s. Whatever it is you want, we'll see what we can do — though reel-to-reel format might be a problem."
So, there you have it; my technophile neighbor will be hearing the new Meg Baird album Dear Companion on her cell phone earpiece in no time. How comforting.