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Top 10 DIY Mastering Mistakes

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What do you think the Top 10 DIY Mastering Mistakes are?

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Profile picture for user Serpentarius

Serpentarius Thu, 06/14/2012 - 05:46

I've been reading a lot on this forum lately and found a lot of useful info regarding the different aspects of mastering. There seems to be a prevailing attitude from the professionals of the industry that the two biggest mistakes are 1.) to think you can master your own material, and 2.) to think that just because you downloaded a few "mastering plugins" to your Garageband app you can now make your laughable songs sound like they've been mastered by Bob Ludwig.

But to me it seems obvious that many truly professional mastering houses today are creating masters that everyone in the industry knows are actually ruined by all sorts of sonic defects, like clipping, overly squashed mixes, sonic imbalances etc. Recently I read about how Katy Perry's latest release was a total mastering disaster, and the sonic problems with Metallica's "Death Magnetic" are by now infamous and legendary. I assume these masters were done by the best and most experienced mastering houses in the business. Then really, the top mastering mistake by far is this:

The professional mastering engineer with decades of experience and knowledge, unlimited access to all the professional and expensive equipment he could ever want and the know-how to use them properly, who still decides to knowingly ruin a recording, only because he's getting paid to do it. Isn't this the worst kind of double treachery? Double, because he really is supposed to be the guardian of his profession and should guarantee his and the industry's professional and artistic integrity, so that no corruption, degeneration and general decline enters into the process under his watch. Not only is he neglecting his professional duty, but he is doing so knowingly and willingly because he is paid to do it. Now what profession does this actually remind one of? His excuse then is that "the customer is always right", when clearly this is just a meaningless phrase. Obviously, the customer is not always right.
Such a mastering engineer is actually causing the same decline in sound quality—and the music consumer's worsening knowledge of said sound quality and his declining listening habits—he himself is bemoaning.

Profile picture for user Thomas W. Bethel

Thomas W. Bethel Thu, 06/14/2012 - 07:40

Serpentarius, post: 390571 wrote: I've been reading a lot on this forum lately and found a lot of useful info regarding the different aspects of mastering. There seems to be a prevailing attitude from the professionals of the industry that the two biggest mistakes are 1.) to think you can master your own material, and 2.) to think that just because you downloaded a few "mastering plugins" to your Garageband app you can now make your laughable songs sound like they've been mastered by Bob Ludwig.

But to me it seems obvious that many truly professional mastering houses today are creating masters that everyone in the industry knows are actually ruined by all sorts of sonic defects, like clipping, overly squashed mixes, sonic imbalances etc. Recently I read about how Katy Perry's latest release was a total mastering disaster, and the sonic problems with Metallica's "Death Magnetic" are by now infamous and legendary. I assume these masters were done by the best and most experienced mastering houses in the business. Then really, the top mastering mistake by far is this:

The professional mastering engineer with decades of experience and knowledge, unlimited access to all the professional and expensive equipment he could ever want and the know-how to use them properly, who still decides to knowingly ruin a recording, only because he's getting paid to do it. Isn't this the worst kind of double treachery? Double, because he really is supposed to be the guardian of his profession and should guarantee his and the industry's professional and artistic integrity, so that no corruption, degeneration and general decline enters into the process under his watch. Not only is he neglecting his professional duty, but he is doing so knowingly and willingly because he is paid to do it. Now what profession does this actually remind one of? His excuse then is that "the customer is always right", when clearly this is just a meaningless phrase. Obviously, the customer is not always right.
Such a mastering engineer is actually causing the same decline in sound quality—and the music consumer's worsening knowledge of said sound quality and his declining listening habits—he himself is bemoaning.

If you don't do what the client wants then they will find someone else who will and will never return to your studio. I don't know your background but it is very easy to point the finger at professional mastering engineers and say they should do such and such but when a client is in their room and wants things smashed beyond all reason you either do it or you lose a client. I try and dissuade clients from smashing their materials but most times that falls, literally, on deaf ears. They are sooooooooooo worried about being "fu$%ing louder" than everyone else that they want to take their stuff to the max. If you make your living mastering driving away too many clients by refusing to do what they want will so cause your business to go belly up. It is like the Democrat that has to do a lot of Republican TV spots. He doesn't necessarily like to do it but "business is business" and he either does them or goes out of business. YMMV

Profile picture for user Massive Mastering

Massive Mastering Thu, 06/14/2012 - 08:50

The professional mastering engineer with decades of experience and knowledge, unlimited access to all the professional and expensive equipment he could ever want and the know-how to use them properly, who still decides to knowingly ruin a recording, only because he's getting paid to do it. Isn't this the worst kind of double treachery? Double, because he really is supposed to be the guardian of his profession and should guarantee his and the industry's professional and artistic integrity, so that no corruption, degeneration and general decline enters into the process under his watch. Not only is he neglecting his professional duty, but he is doing so knowingly and willinglybecause he is paid to do it. Now what profession does this actually remind one of? His excuse then is that "the customer is always right", when clearly this is just a meaningless phrase. Obviously, the customer is not always right.
Such a mastering engineer is actually causing the same decline in sound quality—and the music consumer's worsening knowledge of said sound quality and his declining listening habits—he himself is bemoaning.

Let's also keep in mind that this is very centered around the whole "volume" thing -- Which is only a very small part of the process.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm as guilty as cranking out "Uh, are you sure you want it THAT loud...?" projects as the next guy (although I also tend to fight for every dB under what the client is looking for that I can muster) - But there's a lot that goes into ---- how do I put this... I can only imagine what some of those projects would sound like if they just slapped a limiter on them vs. the careful and thoughtful tweaking they go through.

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Serpentarius Thu, 06/14/2012 - 09:33

There you go then, Thomas. If that's the way you look at your profession, then there's nothing I can add. If you're willing to ruin a good recording for money then you have to live with the consequences. Now, if you don't care about the recording—or if it's crap—and you do what you have to do because "business is business", then again, you have to live with the consequences. I consider it a crime to be an expert in one's field, to know what's good quality, to have the knowledge, and still produce an inferior product, just because you're paid for it. That's just giving up everything you've ever struggled to learn in the first place. You might as well not have spent the years learning it all, if you end up never using it. If you don't apply your expert knowledge, how then can anyone tell the difference between you—a knowledgeable professional—and an amateur beginner?

You might not know my background, but in this particular discussion that isn't really relevant, since we're talking about principles and not specific cases. I'm a professional opera singer and I have to deal with the exact same questions of quality and principles as any mastering or recording engineer on a daily basis. The only difference is the form in which those principles manifest. In fact, the reason I'm here at this forum is because I've become so disgusted with my chosen profession that I'm toying with the idea to try and learn to record, mix and master records. So what I'm criticizing in the mastering industry is the same thing I'm criticizing in my own profession: the fact that knowledgeable people are selling out to the ever lower demands of the industry, to the point where you're actually asked not to do your job, you're overqualified and a pain in the ass at work because you know what you're doing. Is it any wonder that more and more people are questioning the established mastering engineers' expertise and qualifications, when it's gotten to the point where they're getting paid to actually not do their job?

When I say the biggest mastering mistake is when professionals take money to not do their jobs, the reason is that that mistake affects millions of music listeners and contributes to the artistic corruption of a whole profession, whereas if an amateur musician masters their own music and botch it, it really only affects a handful of people.

it is very easy to point the finger at professional mastering engineers and say they should do such and such but when a client is in their room and wants things smashed beyond all reason you either do it or you lose a client

I'm only saying that the self-respecting mastering engineer with artistic integrity should do his education, experience and good taste justice by refusing to do a bad job. Surely, Katy Perry's mastering engineer could've managed without the money from that gig, no? Surely, Metallica's mastering engineer of "Death Magnetic" could've managed even if saying no to that gig? It's not as if they would've had trouble putting food on the table or paying their bills unless they took that job, right? I understand that smaller enterprises need to compromise, but what about those who produce albums for millions of listeners?

It's simply a question of artistic and professional integrity—do you have it or not? Do you even want to have artistic and professional integrity? You might not even care for such things, in which case you should not be bothered by my thoughts on the matter at all. After all, who am I? If money is all that matters, then that's fine. But when people who only care about money also start to talk about artistic and professional integrity, and sound quality, then it starts to smell hypocrisy to me. (Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily mean you, personally. I don't know you. I mean people in general.)

Bloggers last year singled out Mr. Ludwig, the veteran engineer, for the sound on Mr. Springsteen's "Magic," which some thought was tinny and loud.

Mr. Ludwig wouldn't discuss the instructions he was given, but said, "Bruce doesn't let anything out unless it's exactly the way he wants it to be." Mr. Springsteen and his manager, Jon Landau, declined through a spokeswoman to comment.
[[url=http://[/URL]="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122228767729272339.html"]SOURCE[/]="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122228767729272339.html"]SOURCE[/]

Surely, Ludwig could've said no. That's all I'm saying. "Bruce" might not let anything out unless it's exactly the way he want it to be, but what about Ludwig? "Oh, I was just following 'instructions'." Surely, he should have more clout than to follow "instructions". He can afford to say no occasionally, and with his position in the industry he should ​say no much more often than a small-time rural mastering engineer can, with his limited business opportunities.

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Serpentarius Thu, 06/14/2012 - 09:51

Massive Mastering, post: 390577 wrote: Let's also keep in mind that this is very centered around the whole "volume" thing -- Which is only a very small part of the process.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm as guilty as cranking out "Uh, are you sure you want it THAT loud...?" projects as the next guy (although I also tend to fight for every dB under what the client is looking for that I can muster) - But there's a lot that goes into ---- how do I put this... I can only imagine what some of those projects would sound like if they just slapped a limiter on them vs. the careful and thoughtful tweaking they go through.

I appreciate your response, John. Of course there's more to mastering than volume. That's the problem: mastering has become almost entirely about volume when it should be about so many other things. You guys know much better than me. That's why I'm here. I want to learn. Imagine though if my reference for optimal quality mastering was Katy Perry's latest album or Metallica's "Death Magnetic"! You would all be screaming "are you crazy?!?! That's all crap!" Well, how would I know? I'm just an amateur consumer. You mastered those records. Not you personally of course, but you, the industry. You are actually part of it, you know. Just like I have to apologize everytime someone asks me what I think of Paul Potts: "I'm sorry if you've been led to believe that's opera, but it's not." Believe me, I'm trying to do as much as I can to make people understand what good singing is, what good opera is, but when my profession is undermining itself for money, that's when I feel like quitting and going into the recording business. Maybe I shouldn't then, considering you guys fight the exact same fight, and we're all seem to be losing...

Profile picture for user Thomas W. Bethel

Thomas W. Bethel Thu, 06/14/2012 - 13:07

Serpentarius, post: 390579 wrote: There you go then, Thomas. If that's the way you look at your profession, then there's nothing I can add. If you're willing to ruin a good recording for money then you have to live with the consequences. Now, if you don't care about the recording—or if it's crap—and you do what you have to do because "business is business", then again, you have to live with the consequences. I consider it a crime to be an expert in one's field, to know what's good quality, to have the knowledge, and still produce an inferior product, just because you're paid for it. That's just giving up everything you've ever struggled to learn in the first place. You might as well not have spent the years learning it all, if you end up never using it. If you don't apply your expert knowledge, how then can anyone tell the difference between you—a knowledgeable professional—and an amateur beginner?

You might not know my background, but in this particular discussion that isn't really relevant, since we're talking about principles and not specific cases. I'm a professional opera singer and I have to deal with the exact same questions of quality and principles as any mastering or recording engineer on a daily basis. The only difference is the form in which those principles manifest. In fact, the reason I'm here at this forum is because I've become so disgusted with my chosen profession that I'm toying with the idea to try and learn to record, mix and master records. So what I'm criticizing in the mastering industry is the same thing I'm criticizing in my own profession: the fact that knowledgeable people are selling out to the ever lower demands of the industry, to the point where you're actually asked not to do your job, you're overqualified and a pain in the ass at work because you know what you're doing. Is it any wonder that more and more people are questioning the established mastering engineers' expertise and qualifications, when it's gotten to the point where they're getting paid to actually not do their job?

When I say the biggest mastering mistake is when professionals take money to not do their jobs, the reason is that that mistake affects millions of music listeners and contributes to the artistic corruption of a whole profession, whereas if an amateur musician masters their own music and botch it, it really only affects a handful of people.

I'm only saying that the self-respecting mastering engineer with artistic integrity should do his education, experience and good taste justice by refusing to do a bad job. Surely, Katy Perry's mastering engineer could've managed without the money from that gig, no? Surely, Metallica's mastering engineer of "Death Magnetic" could've managed even if saying no to that gig? It's not as if they would've had trouble putting food on the table or paying their bills unless they took that job, right? I understand that smaller enterprises need to compromise, but what about those who produce albums for millions of listeners?

It's simply a question of artistic and professional integrity—do you have it or not? Do you even want to have artistic and professional integrity? You might not even care for such things, in which case you should not be bothered by my thoughts on the matter at all. After all, who am I? If money is all that matters, then that's fine. But when people who only care about money also start to talk about artistic and professional integrity, and sound quality, then it starts to smell hypocrisy to me. (Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily mean you, personally. I don't know you. I mean people in general.)

Surely, Ludwig could've said no. That's all I'm saying. "Bruce" might not let anything out unless it's exactly the way he want it to be, but what about Ludwig? "Oh, I was just following 'instructions'." Surely, he should have more clout than to follow "instructions". He can afford to say no occasionally, and with his position in the industry he should ​say no much more often than a small-time rural mastering engineer can, with his limited business opportunities.

I don't enjoy smashing things especially music. I love the "olde days" when the client was more concerned about how their music sounded and less about how loud it was.

Mastering has changed. No one seems to need mastering anymore since all the artist say they go to the WWW directly with one song at a time and figure they can use their cracked DAW software and pirated plugins to DIY the mastering of their music. The people that go to a mastering engineer read too many articles in MIX or EQ or do too much surfing on the WWW and think that everything they do has to do with loudness. When you try and "reason" with them they get upset that you are "messing with my music" and they also want you to do the mastering for $5.00 a song since that is what they see on the WWW. Mastering use to be a GREAT profession and still is in many cases but sometimes I feel like a hoar selling myself to the client so they can tell me what to do and how to do it. I just had a client who brought in "bricks" of mixed songs. There was not much I could do but he wanted everything much louder. The laws of physics say I can only push things to 0dBFS but he wanted it louder.

I think until you can be a fly on the wall at some of these mastering sessions and see what REALLY goes on you should stop imagining why people do what they do.

MTCW and YMMV

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Serpentarius Thu, 06/14/2012 - 13:46

Fair enough, Thomas. I appreciate that. I guess that the only thing one can really successfully glean from the web is the purely technical stuff, while musicality and good taste is a little harder to learn off the web.:wink: I really do wish I could sit in on a mastering session and who knows, one day I will. Chances are though that I might have the same experience as CoyoteTrax. Personally, I'm confident I have a good ear and I know I have a solid professional education in music. I know quality in music when I hear it. What I don't have is the technical expertise and the know-how regarding how certain pieces of equipment actually work. But since I believe that's actually gleanable off the net and from studying professional textbooks—and by becoming a member of a forum of professionals and asking them silly questionsthumb—I think I'll be OK. Of course, I'm very well aware that nothing can substitute long experience but just having decades of experience without the most important quality, namely musicality, only makes one very experienced in producing mediocre products. That reminds me of a couple of really mediocre opera stage directors I've worked with; they suffer exactly from this: loads of experience but no talent...

bigtree Thu, 06/14/2012 - 15:41

Thomas W. Bethel, post: 390584 wrote: I don't enjoy smashing things especially music. I love the "olde days" when the client was more concerned about how their music sounded and less about how loud it was.

The more I think about this, the more I wonder if it isn't because people don't have a nice stereo anymore. Seems like we're trying to put all the energy (volume) into the song to compensate for amplification. We need to be promoting stereo's again. Who's in charge, we need to call them lol?

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MadMax Thu, 06/14/2012 - 19:44

audiokid, post: 390588 wrote: The more I think about this, the more I wonder if it isn't because people don't have a nice stereo anymore. Seems like we're trying to put all the energy (volume) into the song to compensate for amplification. We need to be promoting stereo's again. Who's in charge, we need to call them lol?

Oh jeeze... you had to go there, huh?

I agree that the loudness wars are, in large part, to compensate for poor amplification... but not just on empty3 players w/earbuds... but crappy computer speakers delivering poorly encoded audio and video... that is unfairly compensated to the content creator, by the content distributors... Which I also see as part of the equation of why so few people actually understand that the Mastering process is not just a plug-in with some mocked up preset.

Profile picture for user TrilliumSound

TrilliumSound Tue, 05/22/2012 - 19:03

1- Not knowing the meaning of Mastering
2- Not having the objectivity if you recorded and/or mix the project yourself.
3- By doing it yourself, why didn't you fix it in the mix before ''mastering'' it?
4- Same person.
5- Same room.
6- Same ears.
7- Same monitors.
8- Same judgement.
9- Same mistakes.
10- Not fixing or doing within the mix and believing that you will be better on the 2-bus.

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Laurend Thu, 06/14/2012 - 23:24

Mastering engineers always complain about the average poor quality of the final customer audio systems. Of course most of the initial quality, obtained on a 100K$ equipment, is lost once translated on a ear-bud via a mp3 player. That's a frustrating situation when knowledge on acoustics, digital audio, speaker design has been largely improved in the last decades. But the same track on the same final system, would be even worse without the mastering stage. The mastering challenge is finding the best compromise for a correct translation on every possible sound system from mp3 ear-bud to arena line array. DIY mastering simply can't compete in this game.

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Serpentarius Thu, 06/14/2012 - 23:51

I know a former ballet company artistic director whose motto is: "Backwards is the new forwards!" Just like people who got tired and annoyed with everything having to be fast all the time and started the slowfood idea, I'm sure there is mileage in the idea to promote your mastering service by saying it's going to be "complex, slow and expensive—but worth every penny!", or "for those of you who are willing to pay a little more...", or "be a true rebel—refuse conformism!" Personally, when I see commercial posters trying to get me to buy their product with phrases like "the most popular xxx — join over 2 000 000 satisfied customers!" or similar, I usually run the opposite way as fast as I can. You can be sure that whatever it is, it's manufactured in China. It's akin to the joke: "Millions of flies cannot be wrong: eat shit!"

I don't think mastering engineers actually need to be concerned with those listening to music on inferior mp3 players with earbuds, because such people are not concerned with sound quality, as evidenced by their choice of sound system. Such people will buy the record anyway for reasons other than sound quality. To them, mp3 players are "good enough for rock'n roll". Those who do have an audiophile system, however, are the ones who will hear whether you've done your job or not. Sure, they are in the minority but they are nevertheless the people who will really know whether you are a true professional or not. They are the ones obviously concerned with sound quality and probably have the musical/artistic knowledge and the good taste, too. Quantity will never equal Quality...

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MadMax Tue, 05/22/2012 - 23:27

1. Thinking you can master your own work
2. Not understanding that there are actual specifications for signal norms and maximums (Red Book)
3. Thinking you can master your own work
4. Not looking at IM distortion levels
5. Thinking you can master your own work
6. Not editing the data fields correctly to include all pertinent data including images and ISRC
7. Thinking you can master your own work
8. Amateur/prosumer listening and monitoring environment
9 Thinking you can master your own work
10. Believing you can actually master a project in 30 minutes

Profile picture for user Laurend

Laurend Fri, 06/15/2012 - 00:09

Serpentarius, post: 390603 wrote: Quantity will never equal Quality...

You're right, but the quality has still to find its unit for quantification. Physical values are much more easier to evaluate than subjective ones.
Note also that loud (reasonably) doesn't mean bad. Being a rebel may be the ultimate conformism...

bigtree Fri, 06/15/2012 - 00:10

I've just got to post an image of Katy Perry's track for you all to see. Its shocking anyone with an ear would do that to audio. I wish I could post the audio, its so terrible and so disappointing. After I bought the album, I've changed my outlook on the industry. I'm doing music for myself now, high end that is. But I'm studying it all more than ever because I know there is a secret to be found in every fad. I'm looking into small speaker mastering more than ever now.

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Serpentarius Fri, 06/15/2012 - 00:58

Laurend, post: 390605 wrote: You're right, but the quality has still to find its unit for quantification. Physical values are much more easier to evaluate than subjective ones.
Note also that loud (reasonably) doesn't mean bad.

My position is you can't put a price tag on everything. This is my point: I'm not interested in "easy". "Easy" never taught anyone anything.

Laurend, post: 390605 wrote: Being a rebel may be the ultimate conformism...

I know that feels good to say, but have a look at my signature. Who today is really willing to go against the majority, on all levels, and willingly accept the consequences? And yet, that is what's needed if we are to save Quality from extinction.

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Laurend Fri, 06/15/2012 - 01:28

Serpentarius, post: 390609 wrote: My position is you can't put a price tag on everything.

I agree. Correlating price and quality is a pure marketing scam. In a free market, prices only reflect what people are ready to pay for a service or an object. Who knows the real value of the quality?

Serpentarius, post: 390609 wrote: This is my point: I'm not interested in "easy". "Easy" never taught anyone anything.

I don't agree on this point. Almost all major technological breakthroughs have arisen because humans are lazy but imaginative: fire, wheelbarrow, cars, computers...

Serpentarius, post: 390609 wrote: I know that feels good to say, but have a look at my signature. Who today is really willing to go against the majority, on all levels, and willingly accept the consequences? And yet, that is what's needed if we are to save Quality from extinction.

Human knowledge never goes backward. Only its usage varies depending of the period and the society. The quest for audio quality will never extinguish. It will just never be mainstream.

Profile picture for user Red Mastering

Red Mastering Tue, 06/26/2012 - 11:34

well said Thomas!
amount of 'wannabe engineer' lads growing like mushrooms after the rain...
it's not only 'mastering', but they call themselves mixing engineers, recording engineers, etc..
plus INTERNET, well this is a pandora box of all troubles,
anyone with some basic web-creating/html skills and a pair of m-audio monitors is a 'studio owner' and 'sound engineer':)
and there's also another flip of coin,
today we have trillions of wannabe DJs, producer, hell, every kid in Brixton/London with m-audio monitors and laptop is a producer now!
so the music is cRap from technical point of view,
it's just interesting times we are living on - 'thanks' to internet anyone could be anybody
and it mislead genuine people in music business.
I can't complain though, those wannabe 'engineers' can't do job, so it's just a matter of time when it collapses and
I got many clients who wanted go 'cheap' and burned their fingers with wannabe engineers:)

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Serpentarius Fri, 06/15/2012 - 02:10

I really tried to listen to Katy Perry's song "[[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fko7_SV3Lc"]Part Of Me[/]="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fko7_SV3Lc"]Part Of Me[/]"—I couldn't stand it for more than 20 seconds. And in HD, too! Didn't help.facepalm I had a look at who the producers were she worked with: Max Martin, Tricky Stewart... As soon as I saw Max Martin's name, I knew what I could expect: nothing of quality. Producers such as he have obviously made a conscious decision to do whatever the pop industry asks for, no matter what. "You want me to make it sound like an mp3? Sure! You want it to distort? Of course! You want the listener's ears to bleed? Coming right up!" They are obviously in it for the money, nothing else. They value quantity, measured in the million albums sold and the million dollars made. They produce commercial products, and the whole point with that is to sell products and make money. It has nothing to do with music; in fact, I don't consider these people producers of music. Like Fab Dupont says in one of his Gearfest presentations: "That's good enough for Gaga and Spears, but for us who make music..."

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Serpentarius Fri, 06/15/2012 - 02:33

Originally Posted by Serpentarius
This is my point: I'm not interested in "easy". "Easy" never taught anyone anything.

I don't agree on this point. Almost all major technological breakthroughs have arisen because humans are lazy but imaginative: fire, wheelbarrow, cars, computers...

OK, let me specify that: if every demand to live a comfortable life in luxury and excess was instantly satisfied, the end result would be that people would just lie in a comfortable bed, with food, drink, *** and entertainment at a push of a button, never move one muscle, never think an original thought—and thus, never learn or create anything. They would not have to invent brilliant things, because they wouldn't have to. It's kind of a Catch 22, because it's the desire to make life easier that inspires a genius to invent something that does that. As soon as life becomes easier the incentive to invent diminishes in direct proportion. So in the end the genius will be so comfortable that he will lose the desire to invent and make things even more comfortable.

Prince said once that he writes the music he wants to hear, implying that he's not satisfied by listening to other people's music. If he was he would have no inspiration or incentive to create his own. I can relate to that, because I'm the most creative when I've not listened to music for a long time. As soon as I listen to other people's music I lose much of my own creativity. Listening to other people's music makes lose my interest to create my own. Sure, you get inspired listening to good music, but only to a point. An important reason why people were generally more creative in the past is because they didn't have a nice stereo on which to listen to others' music, but had to create their own music if they wanted to have "entertainment". Today, we're flooded with all kinds of sensory impressions and it makes us passive. There's a reason for writers wanting to retire to a secluded house in the middle of nowhere, in order to find inspiration to write their next book...

Wow, automatic censorship of certain words...!

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