Jack White says digital recordings are ‘anything but fail-safe’

The Third Man Records boss says digital mediums shouldn't be relied upon when it comes to preserving music

Jack White has spoken out about his thoughts on digital versus analogue recording, saying that digital formats have “proven to be anything but fail-safe” when it comes to the preservation of music.

Speaking to The Atlantic, White commented: “A lot of the digital formats in the last 20 years have proven to be anything but fail-safe. The tapes break or the information can’t be retrieved.”

White – who recently donated $200,000 (£124,914) to the National Recording Preservation Foundation, a United States non-profit who seek to preserve and make accessible the recorded history of America – believes that more modern ways of recording aren’t as reliable as older approaches when it comes to keeping the original versions of songs safe. He also spoke about how people dismissed the masters of early phonograph recordings in the States, saying: “There are stories of early phonograph companies taking apart the masters used to press wax discs so they could be sold as roofing shingles. They didn’t think a recording was a document of anything cultural. It was just a way to sell phonographs.”

The Third Man Records founder spoke fondly about sheet music in the article, saying: “My mother was telling me in the ’30s when she was a little girl you could go to the department store downtown and there was a sheet music section. You could pick out a piece of sheet music and the lady running the section would play it for you on a piano.”

White’s Third Man Records are to co-release Paramount Records’ back catalogue on vinyl, starting from next month. Established in 1917, Paramount Records was home to artists such as Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey, Fletcher Henderson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver and Ethel Walters. Third Man will release a comprehensive 800-song collection of the label’s material from its first decade in existence titled ‘The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27)’ on October 29.

White is also currently working on new songs with his band The Dead Weather, a tweet from his Third Man Records label revealed. The Dead Weather is made up of White, The Kills’ Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita of Queens Of The Stone Age and Jack Lawrence of The Greenhornes and The Raconteurs. They released their debut album, ‘Horehound’, in 2009 and followed it in 2010 with ‘Sea Of Cowards’.