One of the great things about subscription music services is that they provide an easy opportunity to pick up digital copies of all of those discs I couldn’t afford to buy when I was a teenager. I can now stock up on the collected works of groups like the Damned, Eater and the Jam, to supplement the paltry few 45s I owned in my youth. Many of the online compilations also include songs that were never on vinyl—and some that were previously unavailable in any format. Which brings me to one of my new favorite online-only offerings, the Speedies album “You Need Pop!” The Speedies were a hot local band when I was in high school; their guitarist, Eric Hoffert, went to my school, and we had a nodding acquaintance (meaning, I’d nod at him in the hall hoping he recognized me from his gigs, and he’d reluctantly nod back). They recorded two singles in the late 70s and early 80s, and then went on to college and careers (Eric went to Apple, where he helped create QuickTime, and Alan, the drummer, is now a State Supreme Court Judge in Brooklyn). Then, almost 25 years later, the group was approached by HP, which was looking for a song to use in a commercial for a photo printer. The manufacturer wanted to use “Let Me Take Your Photo,” originally recorded by the Speedies in 1979. The group agreed, the commercial was made, and a digital album featuring ten classic songs appeared online (and, of course, the group now has a web site and the obligatory MySpace band page). Sure, the HP commercial and subsequent online album won’t give the Speedies the fame and fortune that eluded them in high school. But it’s a great example of the way online distribution has changed the music business, and a vindication of the “long tail” theory, since “You Need Pop!” will never be in the iTunes top 100 chart, but can always be available to be downloaded by the odd middle-aged Speedies fan looking to relive his youth.
By Marc Perton