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IMPORTANT: The market for consumer audio

Discussion in 'Recording' started by imagineaudio, May 4, 2005.

  1. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    Good evening,
    My name is Ryan "James", I have been a member here for a little less than a year nad have gained vast amounts of knowledge here.
    I just wanted to post some of my opinions on the trends of digital music.

    I work at Best Buy. It is my "other" fulltime job.
    I work in the dept. that sells MP3 players and Ipods, and pre-paid cards towards d/l music.

    We sell probably 30-45+ Mp3 players a day. Alot of people that know nothing about music are snatching these things up like hot cakes. But, this is a goooood thing. I heard a while back the "average person listens to less than 1 hour of music a day, 30min on the drive to work and 30 min back," after work vegging on the couch in front of the t.v.

    This is a trend i saw that started a month or so before christmas and it hasn't slowed since.

    Let me describe to you the "Average Digital Music Subscriber":

    People are carrying 20GB of music in there pockets. These are the same people that are d/l "custom" ring tones and setting pictures of thier girl/boy friend as the background on their cell phone. THey are the people that want everything personalized. Now they are waking up and driving to work with thier Ipod and Itrip transmitter blaring, bring the Ipod to the ofice and plug it into thier computer speakers. On the way home blaring through the Itrip in the car to the gym where they listen in headphones. And then, back home where thier 20GB of music (about 350+ CD's worh) is sitting in a custom dock with speakers to provide background music while winding down for the day....

    Time for band practice, I'll continue this rant later

    PS if its in the wrong forum, sorry, move it.........I thought this might be interesting to some...
  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    I hope that that was sarcasm.

    Perhaps you meant it as a good thing because more people are buying/listening to music. From that standpoint, I agree...but the quality of what they are listening to is what I think could have dire effects on the recording industry, and that makes it a BAAAAAAAD thing.

    The days of High Fidelity are gone or at least drifing away. Nowadays people just want their songs smaller (file size) and portable and they don't really care how it sounds. These days people are listening to super compressed WAV files through 10 dollar earbuds. They either don't care about fidelity or are clueless about it.

    Through my teens and twenties my goal was to have a great stereo system so that I could listen to my Pink Floyd and Yes records/CD in the best quality possible. It did cost me a bit of cash but when someone who listens to songs on them computer all day comes over to my house to and listens to the same songs on my stereo, the are impressed. Not by the stereo, but in how the songs played on it sound.

    Sure ppl say that they can't tell the difference between an MP3 and a CD. Well I sure can. But if the industry listens to those people, eventually they might think twice about spending the big bucks to make a great sounding record. I mean, if all anyone is listening to is MP3's, why make a recording that sounds better than an MP3?

    I was given an IPOD mini for christmas. I've put 3 songs on it and played with it for 2 days...just to have the experience. Right now it sits on a shelf, looking cool and doing nothing.
  3. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    I would say if Mp3's never existed and their was no way to compress a wav file, people would be listening to thier 45 min a day of recycled radio $hit. These people may buy a cd here or there, maybe a cd every 2 or 3 months. Now they can open up a store of music on their pc and have artsits recommended to them based on other music they are listening to. And they can buy virtually any song off any cd (almost). This is going to help trend away from bands getting signed for that one radio single, because whats the point of spending all that money to make an "album" if people are only going to spend $.99 on the one good song on the album instead of fooling them into $15 for the CD. Plus, when I buy a cd it doesnt come with 30 second demos of other bands I may like, so I just get the cd I came for and never hear any of those other artists I may have really gotten into. It is also my belief that the traditional Album is gone.

    I see it going down this way:

    For a band to be successful they must truly be great, as record labels and investors and such would rather work with an artist who can release, say, 20 songs that people will dig and pay .99 cents for maybe 15-18 of them, than a band whose cd's sit on shelves collecting dust while the "one" "hit" on that album is the only one being d/l........

    I agree about the lack of quality, but obviously people dont care about the sound. They do, however, care about the song. It is a bad thing for commercial studios and the record industry, but a good thing for the artist. (the ones who actually create the music).

    I don't find the actual recording industry to be that dire. It will be different from here on out, but It will be here. Artist will always need someone to get their stuff up to a pro level. And the one's who dont will still like to listen to themselves on their Ipod.

    ....thats it, I'm tired of typing......

    Im not looking at starting a MP3's suck, the industry is dying, type of thread.....

    I was just wondering if you all had realized how fast these things sell......selling mp3's for a buck a piece is a steadily growing multi-million dollar industry....
  4. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    I know you didn't want to start a big debate...but I can't help myself.

    I think that the exact opposite of what you say is true. Investors and labels want to make money. You are correct about that. But who do you think makes more money for them, the Britneys, Christinas and Justins of the world or artists like Radiohead, Chick Corea and Aerosmith? Now who makes better music? That's where I think your idea of this trend influencing the industry to back better bands doesn't really wash.

    Boy bands and pop divas generally have much better hits-per-song ratio than your average band because that is what they are designed to do...and their music is truly not great.

    I would guess that more standard recording artists record albums not just to make hits, but to make music. Sure they would like to have a hit, but they are not recording the songs expressly for the purpose of having a hit. The whole album can be full of good material but there may not be a popular hit on it. It is very rare that an artist can produce one hit after another. Take Rush for example, (im old so i use old bands as examples) they have album after album of good material, but only had a handful of hits. If record companies follow your example, bands like this would cease to exist because they just couldn't afford to make it in the music business.

    I think that this medium can make it easier for the musician to get their material out into the public but I don't think that the medium is creating more listeners. It's just giving existing listeners easier access to their music.

    Aside from the point above, my real problem is that the quality of what people are listening to is being degraded and people either don't notice or don't care. I see that as potentially having some major repercussions in the recording industry.
  5. karbomusic

    karbomusic Active Member

    Well, for people like us (audiophiles) its a bad thing, but from a business standpoint it could have advantages in some areas. In otherwords if the proverbial "bar" of sound quality is lowered then the studio doesn't need to spend $$$$ to record the music in the first place. Now that could mean not going to a pro studio to begin with, hurting the industry, but the studios that know how to change with the times will know how to keep customers coming by offering new services and remain successfull either way... It's all about the almighty consumer market and what it demands. Always has been. Those who know supply that demand stay alive....

    Again, the lover of high quality audio in me hates that last statement but what I like isn't what matters where business is concerned. That is sometimes the only difference between an artist and a good business man...

    Now there are about 100 other ways of looking at this because there is quite a big picture to take in. So my little bit of input can be spun many different ways... But there is always the art vs. just selling tomatoes side of the story sometimes. Even though I don't really like it, it does exist...

    Best regards-

  6. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    more people are listening to music=good

    this does not depend on the quality of the music hifi or not this is good, more people buying music and listening to music is good. people who car about there sound quality will go up to, as manny mp3 players play .wav files. also the amount of audiofiles is like a ratio so for every 7 people 3 care or would grow to care about the sound quality. more people will want quality still, just like vinyl is on the rise, and not just vinyl good virgin vinyl. and when the cost comes down DVD-audio will come to the forefront. this is a good thing any way you cut it.
  7. audiofreqs

    audiofreqs Guest

    it's the way it's always been.
    all throughtout the ages, music has been slowly receeding it's physical abilities in communication.


    when we first had music, you had to be there to listen to it. the artist and the listener were together. the listener getting energy from the artist, the artist getting energy fro0m the listener. the most severe form of physical musical communication.

    then we created the phonograph.
    you no longer needed to be there. this machine revolutionized the way we appreciate music. and although it was a machine, there was still a physical working around it. it relied on vibration. and vibrations are what it's all about, isn't it. we just found a way to compress natural man made vibrations to this 12" disk, which in turn made music a portable, share-able way to enjoy it, while all the time being able to access it whenever you'd like (sound familiar).

    next came tape
    smaller, higher capacity, ability to trade and share, more versatile!
    now although we're not dealing with vibrations anymore, we are still in the physical world of magnetics.
    but, it's in this era where we realized that man and machine can communicate with faster speed and better results (ie tape drives). this is when we created computers and found that we could comminicate with the machine via tape. man got faster, as well as machine. so fast that evolving technologies had to find ways to keep up. so we made faster processors and.......

    optical drives!
    this is it folks. the end physical communication. communication has EVOLVED to digital. where when you say sommething on the phone, your voice get's broken up into tiny little bits, blast thru thin air and gets put back together again somewhere else, in a matter of milliseconds. (think: BEAM ME UP SCOTTY)

    if it's the way it's gotta be, then it's the way it's gotta be.

    i personally think it sucks. but hey, when life gives you lemons, write a song about it.
  8. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Nothing's changed that I can see/hear?

    In the 60's I listened to my music on a cardboard(Yes, literally! Sears, I believe..?) record player, buying 45's, for a buck apiece and wearing the needle down through them. Just listening to the music was enough - actually it wasn't the listening, it was "the having and the telling" - your friends that you had it, etc. "Oh, yes, of course I have the In-A-Gada-Davida album."(What does it mean?" "Well, I dont know, but I have it!"). Later on, I had a Music Teacher who owned a(I believe?) Scott pre/amp, I forget what turntable..? Been awhile - maybe a Duel? Dual? I don't know - and Advent - no - AR3 speakers - yeah, I think so. Anyway, as a semi-musically oriented person(My Mother sang to me all the time - and quite well.), I fell in love with listening to music with his "system". Since then, I have been in and out(Mostly out) of music, perse and while I have never had a stereo of that quality to this day, I have always tried to "listen well" to the best equipment AND best music I could get my hands on - eventually owning 1000's of albums, whether anyone else liked them or not. We might hope our kids all find such Music Teachers - or we may always try to BE those Music Teachers, Moms and Dads or otherwise Influencers in the lives of others.

    There will likely always be those who appreciate and are willing to pay for quality(Even if some have more money than ears.) - to say nothing of the absolute fact that a good song recorded/played back poorly will always "sound", to anyone, inferior to a good song recorded well and played back well - do not despair quality freaks - though you are and always will be - freaks.

    The way it is though, is that many more listened to cassettes right through the 90's, than they did the finest vinyl or CD's. Many more will listen to .mp3's than DVD's - and the kids will do it one, one dollar song, at a time... 'Tis a fact of life - quality, of anything, just doesn't matter to most, for most things - truly it cannot matter, as not even Bill Gates has the money to afford the best of everything(Oh, OK, maybe he does..?).

    Keep working on the ultimate in quality, being sure to share quality with as many as you can and you will always find more than enough others to share your vision and ideals - that, too, is a fact of life.

    But for now, until the kid has the money for something better - It is your job to make each kid's dollar invested the best dollar invested it can be......

  9. imagineaudio

    imagineaudio Active Member

    TeddyG, good points, i enjoyed reading that.

    program, I kind of meant it like this:

    Assume for this example people don't buy cd's anymore, but do still listen to the radio. Lets say we are listening to a certain clear channel rock station. Band A's song comes on and we dig it. We boot up the computer conncet and download that song, we audition the clips of some of the other songs on the album and decide that the rest of it sucks......we've only spent a buck. Good for us.

    Now lets reverse the situation, go back in time before mp3's and the original napster shennanigans (SP?)

    Band A's song comes on and after it being in rotation for a couple weeks, we decide to stop and pick up the album. $15 please. We tear open the wrapper and pop it in the deck for the ride home.
    It gets tossed in with all the other garbage music we thought we would enjoy.

    It's going to go from how many albums you can sell to how many individual songs you can sell. The more songs you can release at a time combined with the knowledge that you cant piece together a rock band off one single, in my opinion, is going to bring the cream to top. If you liked one of Rush's hits for example, you would be inclined to d/l a lot of their songs, because the musicianship is great and their songs are great. On the other hand, take a band that has a hit written buy some producer, played by session musicians, etc.....they wouldnt make a whole lot of money only being able to sell one or two songs.


    I would also like to add that out of 30 or so digital music players we sell a day, less than 3 people actually ask if they can hear it. (apple's branded Ipod actually ships with no demo tracks on the HDD) Much less have any clue about mp3, wav, wma, acc, etc.....

    However, after letting them on to the fact I'm quite an audiophile, when I suggest they shell out another 40-150 on a good set of headphones and throw the ones that come with the player in the toilet, better than half will take my advice.

    This leaves me to believe that people do care to a degree about getting a better quality sound but dont understand what they are really listening for.

    Add to that the fact that some of these people are in their fifties or sixties and have never had anything nice to play their tapes on, or have had the same 300 shelf system for 15 years will drop their jaw to the floor listening to a 320kbps mp3 through a $100 pair of cans. This is actually quite an "upgrade" in fidelity and overall sound quality for them.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I think you've got it pegged.It IS a New World Order after all. It will become the power of the song and everything I've ever written defending the rights of even those with the most modest recording situations will be justified.They will be able to uplink their genius to the clear channel floating out there in space.It becomes a global oneness with the writer actually getting their fair share of the pie.For once.Those with a great number of really cool songs will be able to 'package' them in a set and videos will be included with certain amount of bandwidth available.Videos and wild art...just like the sixties.Yes ...I think its a good thing.And hopefully the art of songwriting will make a resplendant return to music.It DAMN sure needs it....
  11. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Excellent points, guys! I think there's a lot of good in both sides of the equation, no matter how grim it may appear from time to time. (Teddy G - good history lesson; I totally agree.)

    If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to check out this month's issue of MIX Magazine. (May, 2005). The cover is: "Who Cares About Quality?" It's a special issue, with a lot of coverage on this very topic, and much more said about it than I can relate here. Check it out if you can.

    Glad to know there's someone with your smarts & integrety working at Best Buy, Ryan. (It's one of my favorite gadget-stores anyway...they always have SOMETHING I need...usually HDs for great prices.)
  12. dpd

    dpd Active Member

    Not the end game, far from it. The end of rotating media for (at least) audio storage is just over the horizon. Once 1 GB RAM reduces in price to around $5 you won't need rotating media (and all it's associated problems) for music storage and playback. This will enable the cross of database technology with high-end, linear PCM playback. I can't wait.
  13. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    I follow...and agree...but I'm still worried.


  14. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    The last words of The Wall: "Isn't this where..."

    In a few scant years, the music industry will have almost nothing in common with what it is today. Good or bad, higher or lower fidelity, one big company or millions of indies, $1 a song or free, it will look much different than today. I don't think any of us can really imagine what it will look like a decade from now. Hell, I wouldn't even take a stab at a 5 year timeline.

    There is one spinoff from this that could be good.

    Take this short journey with me and I'll explain.

    You saved your allowance for 3 weeks. You aniticipated it til you thought you'd burst. You bought it and rushed home after school to close and lock your bedroom door. Your turntable awaited. It would sound like a cardboard box, but the sound didn't matter. You were glad your parents wouldn't be home for another hour, as you could turn it as loud as it would go and hear it fresh, and scratch free, for that first play. You could smell the cellophane as you unwrapped it. You gingerly placed it on the turntable, careful not to touch anything but the extreme edges. There was that telltale click, clunk, chunk, as the record would drop. The longest moment of your life was the time between the dropping of the record and the first timeless bars of THAT song that would in no small way change your life forever...

    Fast forward to today

    ...The kid hits a button and there it is. If he hates it in the first 4 bars, who cares, he only paid a buck, and he can dump it with another keystroke.

    We are going through a monetary and phychological cheapening of recorded music. And I think that the spinoff is that it will make live music more of a cherished experience, more a thing of value that cannot be downloaded, no matter how fast your server is.

    Ironically we may in some small measure return to a situation where, as 'audiofreqs' says:

    "when we first had music, you had to be there to listen to it. the artist and the listener were together. the listener getting energy from the artist, the artist getting energy fro0m the listener. the most severe form of physical musical communication."

    Wouldn't that be cool if all the technology brought us back to a situation where we crave the interaction of a live performance?

    The first words of The Wall: "...we came in?"

    My nickel's worth
  15. Todzilla

    Todzilla Active Member

    So what if the music industry imploded? Good fuckin' riddance, I say. Cool people will still make music, although we may have fewer Brittany Spearseses shaking ass on TV.

    People always have and always will make music. If there's no music industry, there will be the internet and live venues.

    I personally think the end of the "music industry" as we know it would be the best thing to happen to modern music.

    -The Curmudgeon
  16. karbomusic

    karbomusic Active Member

    Only problem is..... is that there is a very huge consumer vortex that desires and craves what is out there right now. RC's both manipulate and cater to this opportunity. I personally despise RC's as they rob the artists IMHO. I have seen many an artist willing to starve for their music and no RC is going to starve for thier chosen job. Sorry RC's but you been suckin' us dry for a long time... (my little rant)

    However, the public gets what the public wants many times. We as artists, creators and musicians, hear, feel and experience music differently sometimes and on entirely different levels than Joe Public the average consumer. Many times the non-artist simply wants to listen to music on the surface, attach it to future memories, dance to it, party to it, experience life with it without necessarily giving a hoot about its artistic merit etc. We are after all entertainers too. Of course this is a generalization and exceptions abound, but I am only speaking of mass market averages here for discussion sake.

    I hate to admit it, but I as an artist tend to romanticize music and expect others to go on the same "trip" I go on when I hear it. I also tend to expect the average listener to take the time to really know and become intimate with the song as if they have heard it as much as I have. But that's the point, there are many people with dollars to spend who don't want and aren't going to do that. They simply aren't like us, no harm, just not condusive to what we hope for. How many are different? I don't know, too many angles from which to study this subject, but brainwashed or not, there are alot of people patiently awaiting the next Britanny CD.

    Just some ideas I've been pondering...

    Best regards-

  17. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Amen Todzilla!
    Everyone knows the radio sucks. And all the fake ass image that people want you to believe in now adays. Not like cool cats like Hendrix, or Hetfield, or Lennon, or Scott Weiland.
    When really, these fu*kin chumps don't write there own music.
    And I don't consider what they are selling to be music at all.
    They have nothing to say, and NO point to make. Other than...
    Look at me dance!
    I'm a little pretty boy. Look at me, I make more money than your whole fu*kin family has for 4 generations.
    And I'm a fake ass fake fu*king fake. Oh did I mention I'm gonna be on SNL this weekend
    ? :roll:
    No wonder country music is so popular. At least they tell stories, so red necks can forget there life is crap, rolled up in a flannel shirt.
    Also if I may...IMO we all are overlooking the fact that there will be more technogies right around the corner, that are going to make MP3's turn into something new, say for instance...MP15
    And it might look like a computer chip and hold unbelievable sound quality and it plugs into TV's and motor cycle helmets, and it fits behind your ear.
    Just imagine the day when you hear someone say..."Hard drive? Who still uses a hard drive?"
    Todays technologies will be just as primative as yesterdays records (albums), and black and white TV's.
  18. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    That flannel shirt euphamism :lol: :lol: :lol:

    'Scuse me guys, but I have to go now. I'm going to plug my Head Socket into my 200Tera hz computer and download the entire history of music into my Brain Chip.

    I used to have the Ear Chip. It was pretty good, but it was the size of a pencil lead and it would only hold 19,000 songs. The Brain Chip is way better, since you can't tell it's there and it now holds an infinite rotating song list.

    The only drawback is that Bill Gates now controls my mind. I don't care though, The 20.1 sound is great. Oh, and if you buy the newer Generation of Brain Chip, the VSF-03 model, it comes with free Experiencial Sex Uploads. No more paying the porn companies to link your brain to the Virtual Sex Field, it's free!

    And hey, once you've tried the VSF you'll never want to go back to the real thing, with all that messy cleanup and the physical limitations! Whoops, gotta go, my Cleaning Clone has a question.

    Scary isn't it. Just wait.
    And so it goes.

  19. Todzilla

    Todzilla Active Member

    Okay, I admit I like some of the mainstream stuff now and then (Outkast's Double Album, sorry, but it is wonderful, still), but anybody who thinks the record industry is synomous with music is on steroidal crack.

    Do we actually believe creative pseudo mainstream artists like Beck, Flaming Lips and Radiohead will all become postal workers if the music industry died?

    Thanks to the internet and lowering the means of production, there is more stuff out there than ever before, by several magnitudes. Sure, the preponderance of it is horrific crap, but there are some real jewels out there. No longer is music distribution constrained to a finite number of radio stations. It's all wide open babies, and if the bulk of lemmings want Clear Channel to spoon feed them what they're supposed to want to hear, more power to the facists who run Clear Channel.

    Hurry up and die, music industry!

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