I can't tell if this an ironic twist or an intentional sadistic joke by the Dillinger Escape Plan, but their new album Option Paralysis is being sold (pre-sold, if you're reading this before 3/23) in so many different format packages that I have no idea what to buy.
Let's look at the ways you can achieve your own paralysis:
Digital Download - Amazon/iTunes - $0.99 - "Farewell, Mona Lisa" digital single
Digital Download - Amazon - $8.99 - full album in mp3, plus bonus track
Digital Download - iTunes - $9.99 - full album in m4a, digital booklet, plus bonus track
CD - Season of Mist - $12.99 - full album in a standard jewel case
CD - Newbury Comics - $12.99* - full album in a standard jewel case, autographed
CD - Newbury Comics - $15.99* - full album in a limited edition digipak, plus bonus track, autographed
CD - Season of Mist - $16.99 - full album in a limited edition digipak, plus bonus track
Vinyl + Digital - Season of Mist - $21.99 - full album in limited edition black vinyl (2000 copies) plus bonus track, free digital download of album
Vinyl + Digital - Season of Mist - $23.99 - full album in limited edition transparent vinyl (500 copies) plus bonus track, free digital download of album
T-shirt - Season of Mist - $24.07 - T-shirt
CD + T-shirt - Season of Mist - $27.50 - full album in a limited edition digipak, plus bonus track, T-shirt
Box Set - Season of Mist - $79.99 - limited edition box set (2000 copies) including a one-of-a-kind CD-sized combo disc (CD one side, vinyl the other side) with the "Head Deaf Melted Grill" bonus track, picture book, flag, beanie, TV-B-Gone (turn off any TV anywhere), luggage tag and buttons
* does not include shipping
Now I definitely plan on buying this album... somehow. I don't own a record player, but I do take my mp3 player everywhere I go. That being said, I still purchase the majority of new releases on CD, then rip them to mp3. But then I rarely ever touch the CDs again. I moved about a year ago and got rid of hundreds of jewel cases. Unless my mp3 player battery is dead, I have really no use for the discs other than them being a backup copy.
I do read the liner notes and peek at the lyrics and artwork, but that's nothing that I can't find easily online. Why am I so afraid to let go of compact discs? Part of it may be the fear that mp3s will be obsolete soon. Massive format changes are something that I don't think I'll ever get used to. Another part of it may be because I consider myself somewhat of a recording artist (yes, it's a gross term I should be ashamed for applying it to myself) and I am afraid of the digital whirpool. Clunky CDs plug the holes where digital downloads leak and I just can't say goodbye to the format that slows down anarchy. I mean, for someone that bitches so much about having to take one additional step to accomplish anything, it's hypocritical for me to defend CDs.
My friend Ryan in the band Dogs of Winter released their last album entirely in mp3, with a digital booklet for free. I still can't wrap my head around that. My roommate Rob's band the Impulse Int'l put out their last record only on vinyl because that's what they like best. Another friend of mine, Billy from the Sweet Sacrifice, told me recently that he's interested in putting out his next record on vinyl, but with a free digital download because it seems to be the growing trend. Who is right? Does it matter anymore? Is it every format for itself now? My band is currently recording an album and we have no idea what we're going to do with the finished tracks. Cassette? Phonograph? Sell them as ringtones and throw the sheet music off the top of the Empire State Building? How am I supposed to take a stand in the format wars if I don't even know what I personally prefer? Am I holding the world back as an artist and as a consumer, or are all these options good for the industry?
It seems like this album isn't even out yet, but it's central theme has already put me at a life-altering crossroad. What do I buy? Digital is the cheapest and best for the environment. Transparent vinyl is the most aesthetically cool and makes for a good collector's item. Compact discs splits the difference as the safe choice of the comfortable, the ignorant, and the paralyzed.
Also, I could use a new t-shirt.