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Friday, 30 June 2017

There's no such thing as a record worth stealing

This is a blog post about security and music.

Nothing fancy - no elaborate advice about how to safeguard your music files against cyber-attack or anything like that. Just some very basic observations, all rather material and old-fashioned. Like noting how (some) charity shops put strips of sellotape on their CDs to deter you from stealing the discs rather than coughing up your greasy £1 for a copy of The White Stripes' Elephant or whatever.

When I worked in a record shop in the mid-1980s we'd get quite a few opportunist grab-it-and-leg-it shoplifters bursting out of the doors in a sudden dramatic flurry of activity. We staff, poor harried individuals trying to shrinkwrap 250 Whitney Houston LPs as soon as our little hands could get it done, would be summoned to give chase. Oh what fun! We'd charge through the pedestrianised streets of this Midlands city, scaring shoppers, scattering pigeons and as far as I can remember never catching the fleet-footed thief. 

Looking back I'm glad we didn't. If they wanted that bloody Bruce Springsteen cassette so badly - good luck to them. But still, the security-heavy routine would continue. A low-wage, uniformed security guard on the door. Information circulated about who to look out for among the "shoplifter gangs".

Is music so valuable? Do we need to "protect" it so vigilantly? I dunno, could it be we've got our priorities ever so slightly wrong ...?

Thoughts like these came to me the other day when I attempted a little bit of breaking and entering of my own. Having borrowed some CDs from a local library (yeah I'm old-school like that), I got home to find the librarian had forgotten to take the bloody security tabs out. Should I plod all the way back to the library? Er, no. Far better to just gently tease the tabs out. Except, 20 sweaty minutes later I'd half-destroyed two CD cases by hacking away with a screwdriver and pen-knife. Ruined! What to tell the library? Naturally, being too embarrassed to admit the truth, I ended up going back with a cock-and-bull story about losing them, offering to pay for replacements. See, kids - crime of any sort definitely doesn't pay.

Meanwhile, back in the world of legitimately-owned personal music collections, I know someone with a large number of reggae records who's forever fretting that somebody's going to break into his place and steal them. I can't see it. Records are surprisingly heavy and, well, just records. Do people break into houses to steal vinyl (even allowing for the ridiculous prices new-style "connoisseur" shops like Flashback Records charge for this stuff)? Surely not. 

But that's (sort of) my point. People invest a bit too much value in musical artefacts - the "rare" vinyl, the limited-edition this or that. Most people don't want your music. They've got their own - which they almost certainly think is better than yours anyway. Charity shops can probably afford to have a few CDs stolen without getting all uptight about it - after all, most of their stuff's donated to them. And my local library can probably manage without using super-secure CD cases. Bloody hell - it's only a ten-quid Punk 45: There Is No Such Thing As Society compilation - it's not a gold bar!

Stolen records: we're all over-valued products now 

The Punk 45 comp is good actually and I don't mind having now paid £10.50 for it (50p being the original loan fee). Fine. I'm enjoying hearing music from The Cigarettes, The Swell Maps and the Prefects. And if ever some perfidious punk-thief should gain unauthorised access to my flat and run off with it ... well, I guess I'll cope. In fact, I'll probably just shout after them: "Oi, don't you know? There's no such thing as a record worth stealing!"




  



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