Turntable’s comback: Vinyl destination

Camarie Bentley walked into a Fort Lauderdale record store this dreary afternoon, head nodding to Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, streaming from iPod to headphones. She walked past the CDs to the Soul section of the vinyl department — stacks and stacks of LPs stuffed between Alternative and Blues — on an earnest hunt for the same song on wax.

A daughter of the digital age, Bentley only discovered the joy of vinyl a year or so ago after she wandered into a retro record store in Tallahassee, where she was finishing up at Florida A&M University. She had an uncle’s turntable at home, so the journey back to the analog era was just a matter of finding a favorite artist’s 12-inch. And then, among the crates of albums. she found Jackson’s Thriller, its iconic cover featuring the star lounging in a dapper white suit and black shirt.

Bentley, 23, already was in love with chapters of music made before she was born. Now, she’s been wooed further by the crackle and pop and warmth of vinyl’s storied history.

“I listened to that album and that was it. I love that you can hear everything on an album. Somehow you feel like you are listening to the real thing,” says Bentley, who is military-bound and makes regular trips to Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale in search of albums by the Dazz Band, Heatwave and Stevie Wonder. “Sometimes I feel like I was born in the wrong decade.”

Like a bygone artist, the black disc — once the domain of purist deejays and nostalgic baby boomers who never let go, and the enduring force behind indie record stories — has made a comeback, now enjoyed by hipsters and youngsters who grew up grooving to sounds on little gadgets but seem willing to trade technology for more authentic moments with music. They are attracted to the tactile experience of the treasure hunt, of plucking through stacks for a particular title, of absorbing the cover art, of pulling the record out the sleeve, of gently dropping the needle into the groove and anticipating the first promising seconds of sizzle.

And it’s not just the vintage stuff that is luring music lovers to record stores. Contemporary artists from Adele to Lady Gaga are pumping out new music on vinyl, often with a download included. And other artists are reissuing their greatest hits on vinyl.

Last year, record purchases were at a two-decade high, with unit sales at 3.9 million, a 36 percent jump over 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Though still a fraction of overall sales of CDs and MP3, vinyl sales have grown annually since 2005.

“So many people are reacting to the tactile experience of walking into a store, picking up a record, touching it, going home and listening to it, really feeling the music. Vinyl offers a personal experience, like buying books at a bookstore,” says Lauren Reskin, owner of Sweat Records, a groovy haunt in Miami’s Little Haiti. “There’s always been a fan base for vinyl, but now the home listener runs the gamut, from boomers to kids. And what they want to listen to is across the board.”

So every week, Reskin — who calls the LP revival a “happy accident” — can count on music listeners to enter the wonderfully eclectic store, wander the displays and pick up Nas’ Illmatic, or Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, or Belle Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister. Or anything recorded by Radio Head and Miles Davis.

First introduced in 1948, vinyl was for years the main format for popular music. After three decades of dominance, it receded into the shadows of first compact discs and then digital file formats. But since the turn of the century, even as the music industry wobbled under the weight of free downloading, vinyl steadily marched back onto the pop culture radar. Now, vinyl and the venerable record player are everywhere, sold on mainstream shelves like Urban Outfitters. Badges of cool, images of turntables and album covers are on T-shirts, wallpaper, art.

In March, during the Season Five premiere of Mad Men, the series set in the 1960s, Megan Draper covered Zou Bisou Bisou at husband Don’s surprise 40th birthday party. The show’s rendition of Gillian Hill’s original 1961 song immediately became available on seven-inch red and black vinyl.

The Miami Art Museum is hosting an exhibit with nearly 100 works celebrating the record. The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, open through June 10, explores the LP within the context and history of contemporary art, using sculptures, drawings, paintings, photos and videos.

“The vinyl has become visible in pop culture because it has a certain cache, it’s a symbol of survival and an earlier time and it has a story,” says Charles McGovern, an associate professor of American Studies at the College of William & Mary in Virginia and former curator of American culture at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. “We listen to music with our ears but also our eyes and other senses. The vinyl is so much more than a storage container for sound.”

Sean Kayes opened Radio-Active Records, then called CD Collector, in Pompano Beach 16 years ago. He moved the shop to Fort Lauderdale and last winter, opened in a shopping strip along U.S. 1 in the city not far from the former location. Over the years, his inventory has shifted.

“Back in early 2000s, I had a small collection of albums, but mostly CDs in the store, We would play the albums, anything from R.E.M. to Sly and the Family Stone to The Smiths. And I noticed that the more vinyl we played, the more vinyl we sold. Back then, the kids, 10 or 12 years old, would come in and watch us play and for them it was eye popping, cool, maybe even their first time seeing it,” he said.

Then in 2003, a woman walked in the store and sold Kayes her husband’s collection of 2,500 LPs, mostly Top 40 stuff. He instantly had an inventory and soon after, a faithful following among vinyl fans. Now the collection crosses genres, from disco to trance to rock to rap. Prices range from maybe $1 for a decent-condition Johnny Mathis to $100 plus for an early pressing of Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue.

When he opened in 1996, the inventory mix of CDs to LPs was 70 to 30. Now: 20 to 80. That broad shift to vinyl became the savior for many small, independent record stores and has been celebrated in a national campaign called Record Store Day.

“I think the main reason the vinyl is so popular now is that it is a more authentic document of what the artist produced. People are excited by the cover, which is really a 12-by-12 piece of art. And they are excited by the way an album offers an intimate way to experience music,” says Kayes. “I don’t see this as a passing trend.”

Walter Rivera’s introduction to vinyl was listening to a New York radio station where they played an intoxicating mix of old school and hip hop LPs: James Brown; Jay-Z; Mobb Deep. He started collecting three years ago. His first LPs were a gift from his parent’s trove and included records by Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon.

“I was listening to their music and then I started shopping for my own, looking mostly for 1980s and 1990s hip hop and freestyle and 1960s to 1980s rock,” said Rivera, 24, a Miami Dade College student.

He made his first purchase in 2009 at Yesterday and Today Records in Miami: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Now he is on the hunt for classics by the Beastie Boys and Led Zeppelin and LL Cool J.

“I love everything about vinyl. The sequencing of the music, that artwork, the old school flavor,” says Rivera, of West Kendall. “Not taking away from the digital era, but vinyl is where everything started. It represents the essence of music.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/11/2794676_p2/vinyl-records-making-a-rapid-comeback.html#storylink=cpy

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‘George Jefferson’ Sherman Hemsley Passes Away

Sherman Hemsley, who most famously played George Jefferson in TV sitcom All in the Family and its spin-off The Jeffersons, has reportedly died in Texas at age 74. Hemsley also had stints on Broadway and as a recording artist (see video below).

TMZ on Tuesday reported Hemsley died at his El Paso home but had no details about the cause of death.

“George Jefferson” became an immediate worldwide trending topic on Twitter as the web and celebrity friends reacted to Hemsley’s passing.

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10 Tips for Job Seekers in the Digital Era

What does it take to land your dream job? In this digital era, job candidates have a plethora of tools at their disposal to help them ace the interview, including advice websites, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

1. Research, Research, Research

A likely first question any interviewer will ask is, “what does our company do?” This seems like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised at the number of people that have no clue. If you’re not prepared to discuss the company, they probably don’t want you.

Take the time to know the company inside and out. Research what they do, follow their social-media pages, and understand the industry and the competitors. Basically, have the company’s elevator pitch down pat. To be safe, practice it on a friend.

2. Connect Before the Interview

As you’re researching the company on their social media pages make sure to like some of their posts, leave a comment or two, and re-tweet what you find interesting. The reality is that you never know who might be watching. Many recruiters prefer finding talent via Facebook and LinkedIn rather than through a job site like Monster.

Does the company sponsor or organize any events? If so, show up at some of them and meet the representatives from the company. They can serve as a good “in” to the people who are hiring. If possible, connect with this person on LinkedIn afterwards.

3. Build Your Social Presence

Are you popular in the social sphere? Do you blog, Yelp, and have a ton of friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter? If so, great. You want to continue to build your social presence. If you haven’t flexed your social muscles yet, then you better get going! This is a critical way that recruiters assess how passionate you are about digital.

4. Be Prepared

Find out how the interview will be structured and plan accordingly. Determine who your interviewers will be, find out as much about them as possible, and then impress them with your knowledge.

Also, make sure you ask questions. Questions that haven’t been thought through very well leave a bad impression. Write questions down ahead of time and be precise, but don’t overdo it.

Another big item is the company’s dress code. Check out their Facebook page, look for photos in the news. People want to see how you assimilate into a culture. That said, always dress one step up from the code.

5. Arrive Early

Arrive at least fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled start time. The interviewers are scheduling their days around you so be ready to go. If you are going to be late, it better be for an excellent reason. Call and let the person who is waiting for you know.

6. Be Flexible

Don’t bring up money in the first interview. It positions you poorly. Acknowledge that you appreciate being trained and will be a strong asset in the future. Remember that it’s not about what you get paid the first day. It’s what you end up getting paid the first year.

That being said, if the company really likes you then money might come up so be prepared with a realistic number. There are some good sites that offer salary estimates. Feel free to take those into consideration, but not as the final word.

7. Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself

Companies want people with diverse interests. If you like to work in different areas, let that be known and don’t pigeonhole yourself into one department. Also, don’t feel shy about sharing your hobbies and interests. Varying interests bring character and color to a company’s culture.

8. Think Career, Not a Job

Make it clear you’re interested in a career, and not just a job. Ask what you can expect over the next ninety days, and communicate what exactly you’ll be bringing to the table. But don’t communicate that in blanket statements like, “I’m good at sales” or “I like to take initiative.”

Instead, if you’re good at sales say, “In one year I closed five new accounts and grew three existing ones, resulting in $300,000 in new business.” Or, if you’re a go-getter, describe a problem you helped solve and the result. Show your real impact and potential by talking about accomplishments in your career.

9. Keep the Details in Mind

Keep these small, but important, details in mind when interviewing: Shut your phone off, don’t chew gum, sit up straight, don’t say “yeah” or “like” or “you know,” don’t talk over the interviewer, maintain eye contact, and don’t tell the interviewer about where else you’re interviewing.

At the end always go for the close and ask about next steps.

10. Follow Up and Maintain Contact

After the interview, make sure to get everyone’s business card and send a thank-you email that day. Then check in every now and then with your main contact to see how the process is moving along.

If you don’t get the position, that’s OK, too. Learn from the experience, improve your talking points, and keep up positive communication with the company. Maybe they found someone with more experience, but that doesn’t mean another position won’t open up in a few months that you’re perfect for, and because you remained in contact, they might call you up for that job instead.

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iPad the new school solution?

Apple’s third quarter earnings call on Tuesday unveiled some information that goes to show just how useful the iPad is for educators.

“I’ve never seen an adoption rate like this in the past,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The company announced it sold twice as many iPads as Macs for use in educational environments. Apple sold 1 million iPads for educational purposes, and interest in the iPad2 in k-12 was strong, it was said during the call.

Overall during the quarter, Apple sold 17.0 million iPads, an 84% unit increase over the year-ago quarter. It sold 4.0 million Macs during the quarter, a two percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter.

Apple has touted the iPad as being a useful tool for students and educators since its release.

The company announced its third quarter fiscal summary to investors and the media on Tuesday. The quarter ended on June 30, 2012. In a statement, Apple said it “posted quarterly revenue of $35.0 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.8 billion, or $9.32 per diluted share.” The call will be rebroadcast; click here for details.

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