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CDs and MP3s will Always Be ‘Records’

According to Santa Monica-based New York Times Almanac Senior Editor John Rosenthal, who writes the On Language column in today’s New York Times Magazine, the term ‘record’ shouldn’t go the way of vinyl.

Rosenthal talks to Billboard editor Ken Schlager, NARAS communications VP Ron Roecker and Brian Eno about the whether or not the term has legs, but it is his closing paragraphs that argue best for the survival of the word.


I, too, hope for a return to ”record,” and not merely because I’m old enough to remember buying ”Philadelphia Freedom” on a 45. Retaining a format-neutral word for all recorded music saves having to invent new terms when the technology shifts yet again. A one-size-fits-all term might even help bridge musical generation gaps.

There’s another reason for record keeping. ”Record” can also mean the capturing of a moment in time so that it may be referenced for eternity. In the way a court reporter types down the record of a trial, the artist, producer, mixer and engineer create a record of a musical performance. Even if the recording that emerges isn’t anything that can ever be performed live, using the word ”record” to describe it reminds us that humans created this music and saved it for other people to hear.


As a public relations professional who spends hours exploring the best way to communicate corporate news to the media, this column is among my weekly favorites.

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