Liner Notes

How to Kill the Daily Vault, in One Easy Step

by Jason Warburg

Don’t buy music.

It’s really that simple. If you don’t pay for the music you listen to, if you copy it or download it from a file-sharing site or do whatever else you do to steal it—and yes, it is stealing, quit trying to rationalize it, you are taking something that belongs to someone else (the artist) without their permission and without compensating them, that’s the definition of THEFT, people—then you will eventually, one day, kill the Daily Vault.                       

You probably won’t kill most of the other sites around that claim to deliver music reviews, most of which have already adapted to the gnat-like attention span of the average modern consumer, with “reviews” of 75 words or less that tell you virtually nothing about a piece of work beyond what micro-genre the reviewer’s pre-existing biases suggest it should be slotted into.

But the Vault isn’t going to play that game. We review albums; it’s what we do (maybe the occasional EP or DVD, too, but our focus is on albums). We dive deep, we explore, we deliver historical context and compare albums against the length and breadth of an artist’s work, and that of the artist’s peers and contemporaries. We celebrate the joy and anguish and darkness and light that music exposes to the world. We fundamentally believe in music as an art form, and in everything it has given us, every moment of our lives that it has enriched and illuminated.

If you want to kill the Vault, just keep right on not paying for those moments; value them at zero. We are already seeing the results: artists issuing singles and EPs and gimmicky videos rather than full-length albums to avoid making a financial investment they are unlikely to recoup. The Vault gets roughly 400 pitches a week, on average. The percentage of pitches for full-length albums has declined steadily for the last five years, to the point where it’s now maybe 20 percent of the total, with the rest hawking singles, EPs, videos, tour dates, soundtrack placements, promotional tie-ins or something else besides what matters to this writer, and most of us at the Vault: albums. Long-form musical works designed to engage, move, maybe even transport the listener for 40 or 50 or 60 minutes at a time.

Sadder still, an increasing number of artists are choosing to throw in the towel and just give away their music, trying meanwhile to live off of live gigs and merch while working two or three side jobs. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that this is not a sustainable approach. (And don’t get me started about streaming, the biggest collective ripoff of artists in the long and checkered history of artist ripoffs.) Within a couple of years, most of these folks will give up and move on with their lives. What potentially amazing, even life-changing musical experiences will be lost in the process? We’ll never know. Because our society has apparently concluded that those moments have no intrinsic value, that they are not worth spending money on.

So go ahead, copy that track. Torrent that album. Steal. It’s a victimless crime, right? Just remember, every time you do it, you are contributing to the death of an artist’s dreams, as surely as if you stuck a knife between their ribs. And as those artists go, so goes the Vault.

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