The Collapse of the Music Business

Discussion in 'Music Business' started by audiokid, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

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    YES , it is ironic, I remember when preserving dynamic range was one of the golden rules
     
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  2. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    All the great albums of the past...they all have that one thing in common
     
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  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    A lot of really good bands music turned to crap as soon as they got some money, women, and fame. I think a certain amount of creativity comes from adversity.
     
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Dr_Willie_OBGYN said:

    2/3 of my album sales have been replaced by royalties from SoundExchange. People want music for free these days.



    At first I thought that maybe it was just me and the fact that I was a quart low on coffee at the time I read it ....but I'm not understanding that statement, either...
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    You can't base what you think as being what the masses will think. You think differently because you're an audiophile. And, while there are still a few "civilians" around who share your ideology, most people listening to music these days are doing so through personal listening devices, using $ 5 ear buds, and the only thing they care about is that each song they hear is of the exact same level(s), which is, in most cases, determined by commercial music that has been mastered with a dynamic range of 4db or so. They don't like to have to use the volume control, you see. It's just too much of a hassle for them.

    With an average DR of around 12 db, at an RMS/LUFS of around - 12 to -14, I doubt very much that the last album I produced would pass the volume-level preference criteria of the majority of listeners using personal listening devices.
     
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  6. Cynthia Klenk

    Cynthia Klenk Active Member

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    Donny "I just didn't want to be constantly pummeled by metal and rap anymore - or have to deal with terrible musicians doing nasty old covers of classic rock songs and who can't tune their way out of a wet sack, so I limit whom I work with these days. "

    I feel your pain - and any more - I just do what I do to make me happy - if its a small club -I'm good with that - Its just me now and if someone is looking for a recording/mix and they want an overcompressed horror show, with everything turned up to 11 - played on an un-tuned guitar - I'm not their gal. In the end, I think music is just too precious. As a member of NARAS - there have been quite a number of seminars and discussions on the state of the industry - no one really has any solid answers - other than don't quit your day job - I teach fitness for mine - and so I guess in a way I am making my living in music - and dance. But if I had a husband and kids - my life would be very different - Fitness isn't exactly going to get you a diamond studded pee-latinum wheel caddy (like the great Cab Calloway sang) either - hi dee hi dee hi dee ho......... All the best :)
     
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  7. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    It would be a safe bet to say that the majority of members here on RO share your view Cynthia, and its usually those in the craft who are over 40 and have come from a time when we started listening to music on AM radio, then maybe FM, who went out and purchased their music by way of vinyl records and when we did actually play those vinyl recordings (the well recorded ones, anyway) it gave us an understanding and appreciation of a quality recording and how things should sound.
    Where we lived in a time where 90%+ of what we heard was through those early AM then FM radio stations, then actually listened to how it really did sound on vinyl...
    it was like an audio epiphany to say the least.

    Those over 40 have seen the evolution first hand, from vinyl to 8 track to cassette to CD, to now the file download such as Mp3 that has evolved as the medium went from analog to the digital domain. We got to experience and appreciate the sound of analog and all the things that were synonymous with the analog recording process thats missing today, dynamic range being just one of them.

    Todays' generation, and by no means do I want to come across as sounding disparaging, have not been fortunate enough to have lived through the evolution in audio that those of us over 40 have borne witness to in our lifetime. The majority of todays' generation were never exposed to that evolution unless done so through their parents listening habits, therefore they know no better when it comes to audio quality when listening and downloading their Mp3s', most of which are downloaded from sites where compression is encrypted during the uploading process as most here would be aware and listened to through cheap earbuds on listening devices where playing music is a secondary function and not the primary function of the device.

    I had a twenty-something over my house a while back at a family gathering and I decided to play Dark Side Of The Moon on vinyl as they said they were a Floyd fan.
    The first thing that came out of their mouth was a comment of how quiet the album was, so I turned it up so they could really hear it...
    So much was their exposure to todays' music quality that they had no understanding of things such as the dynamic range in a recording.
    They had never heard DSOTM apart from a digital download, which to me was a sad thing. It was recorded in analog and to me it should be heard on vinyl to appreciate it.

    The moral of the story?....three hours later they were still in my living room listening to my vinyl LPs' from the 70s'...it had opened their ears to how things should sound.

    One thing I find fascinating it the digital realm today is the pursuit of the analog "sound" in digital recording and how much this plays a part in the modern ITB recording process, or how analog outboard hardware is used to add sonics that were synonymous with analog recording not so long ago.


    And welcome to RO(y)
     
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  8. Cynthia Klenk

    Cynthia Klenk Active Member

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    Good morning
    I think I have found a home home on the net. As was mentioned, the twenty somethings and even thirty somethings have no perspective - all they know is LOUD. What I may try doing when I have a client who has never truly experienced audio dynamics - is to let them listen to a vinyl Sgt. Peppers or Pink Floyd - so that they do have perspective. I reviewed a mix not too long back for a very talented young group, of twenty somethings, mixed on an SSL 9000 to two lovely immaculate 2" Studers (I had recommended an analog signal chain, with careful use of Pro Tools when appropriate) -- and let them use two of my prized guitars - my now getting old, well seasoned Taylor 514CE and my Rick Turner Model 1 - and was impressed enough that I recommended Bob Katz for the mastering. These kids have talent, and a very unique sound - but money is tight, they were stretching for quality studio time.

    Mr. Katz was impressed and did a superb master for them, at a very reasonable price. Bob has seen it all - the good the bad and truly ugly - and has written about and lectured about, the same.

    I told this young group that they were being mastered by one of the best. I heard the master and it was beautiful with a wide dynamic range, very much like the "old days". They said they liked it - but it wasn't "L-O-U-D" enough. I said that is because it has dynamic range, as music should and frankly - must have (well unless you are Spinal Tap :D). Music is a living thing - it has to breathe, it has to have times of explosive joy, and quiet sorrow. Imagine if Mozart had played everything quadruple, double, triple forte! Even the eponymous last and least son of J.S. Bach (PDQ) would not do that :eek: (Though he did come close with the Echo Sonata for two unfriendly groups of Instruments (Schickele number S. 9999999999) - for Flute, Oboe, Bassoon; Trumpet French Horn and Trombone. And yet that is exactly what it comes down to today. I think - I hope - that the pendulum will swing back. I plan to stick to my guns anyway, as I expect many on this wonderful site, I'm sure plan to do.....

    - Long story short, the group that I mentioned went to a far (far) less qualified mastering engineer - and they got what they wanted on their next project.... yes, you guessed it - squashed flatter than a pancake and oh yes - Nigel Tufnel everything goes to 11 bloody "LOUD".

    I smiled and said "very nice" ..... And so the EP that Bob mastered is a bit of a casualty of the the loudness wars - and I felt bad all the way around.

    As Bob says (to paraphrase) - compression, EQ and limiting are loaded guns, you best know how to use them, or you could blow your foot off - and they should never be pointed at someone unless you intend to use them.
     
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  9. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    There is no crescendo in modern music today unfortunately.

    It is all brick wall limiting and no dynamic range.
     
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    I just won't do it anymore, Cynthia. It's just too taxing on me. I'm in my 50's now, and as you and Sean have both mentioned, I was of that generation who was lucky enough to have been able to both listen to and record some great music that was also recorded in a way that was so very Musical and pleasantly listenable.

    Aja'. Sgt Pepper. Pet Sounds. Songs In The Key Of Life. Gaucho. DSOTM. Are You Experienced.

    These were albums by great artists that also had the benefit of having engineers and producers who were also artistically minded. Chris Nichols, Geoff Emerick, Bruce Swedien, Hugh Padgham... all great engineers working under great producers like Sir George, Gary Katz, Bob Ezrin, Alan Parsons...who all had one goal on mind: to get great songs recorded in the best way possible - with fidelity, dynamics, and feel, and emotion.

    It could still be that way too, it doesn't have to be the way it's become. And there's nothing wrong with new technology and recording platforms, either. As Eric Clapton says, "It's in the way that you use it."

    Today's music production has become very isolatory. There aren't nearly as many of those sessions anymore with live musicians, either in a band or as session cats, all playing together at once. There's no natural sense of groove, or dynamics, of feel...
    Because it's so common now to have one or two musicians recording into a computer. And in the interest of full disclosure, to be fair, I've done that myself... but at the same time, I don't look at that as a substitute for what a room full of real talented cats can do. Nothing will ever beat that vibe, that groove, or that energy or sound. But the technology isn't to blame for that... it's the mindset of the artists that controls that direction. The recording platform is simply the vehicle to get you where you want to go. I've done some very nice things on tape, and I've done some very nice things on DAW's, too.

    And, I won't work on preserving that sense of dynamics just to have it squashed flatter than a bug on a windshield, either. I choose my mastering engineers based on their ears, their gear and their ability - no - their desire to preserve the dynamic range of what I send them. In the last 15 years, I've found two. Only two who will do that. (One of them is a member right here on RO, BTW (@Thomas W. Bethel ).

    -d.
     
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  11. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    Welcome back D...good to hear from you again :)
     
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    Thank you Brother Sean. Good to be back. I missed you guys.
     
  13. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    today's music is what it is and us complaining isn't going to change things (unfortunately). it doesn't seem that music means the same thing these days. it just doesn't seem to be as important

    i've heard some things that i like a lot ... and some i don't. there's a lot of it i just don't get and there's a lot of "i meant it to sound like that" when obvious flaws are critiqued. a major problem is a lot of Millennial's just won't listen. they think anyone over 30 is a "fud". i actually think the arraignments and performances are more an issue than the actual recording process. perhaps if arraignments and performances were better, they wouldn't need all that over compression and eq'ing that bugs us so much?
     
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  14. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    You make a valid point...the music of the 60s' helped inspire a generation to turn on, tune in and drop out...and I think the music of that era in the 60s' was powerful enough to help play a part in changing peoples' perception of the Vietnam war, to name one example.
    I don't think todays' music could inspire this generation or create a movement en masse as such.
    The music of that era was a soundtrack to a whole generation of post war youth who were coming out of the shadows of the conservative, white-bread Leave It To Beaver 1950's.
    I can't see the likes of Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, Kanye West or Lady Gaga and their music having the same effect on todays' youth or changing the world for the better.

    I agree...I'm sure our parents generation thought the same way about our generation as well.:D

    Didn't our generation think the same thing in our youth, about our parents' generation and the music that they listened to ?...
    I think that comes with how every generation perceives the one that came before it:eek:

    Absolutely...and how much of this is a combination of a decline in the live music scene where once musicians could practice their chops and cut their teeth until they refined their craft and the explosion of the bedroom producer ?

    Autotune and over compression has killed music today just as video killed the radio star:mad:
     
  15. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    An interesting observation today is how music has become a disposable commodity in a world where everything is designed with obsolescence in mind...

    Everything is throw-away these days, has a used-by date and nothing is designed to last.
    I question whether this mindset we have been conditioned to in modern society in some way has crept into how we perceive and value music ?

    Todays' generation are accustomed to downloading their music, usually by the song, whereas the previous generation went out and physically purchased their music by the album.
    Is it a fair arguement to say there is a culture today where music is downloaded in tiny bite-size pieces, only occupying a fleeting moment of instant gratification and then soon hastily discarded in the lives of a fast-paced, time poor, on demand existence ?... soon to be deleted once the listening devices' memory is full to make way for the next song download and the next fix of instant gratification from whoever is hot and trending on itunes at that time.

    I think if you asked most of the previous generation, they would still have their music collection, whether it be on vinyl, tape or CD...
    - I know I do, I still have the first album I bought, as a matter of fact, I still have every album I bought, and tape, and CD for that matter.
    We had a music collection...now its streamed or downloaded by the current generation.

    Because music has gone from the physical to the virtual as we have moved from analog to digital, there appears to be a loss in how society values music, most evident in the younger generations' view that music should be free, reinforced by the explosion of file sharing and cloud based music sites post Napster.

    The value society places on music and the role it plays in our lives has changed just like the way we record it, like the way we listen to it, and like the way we aquire it.

    - IMO
     
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  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    No more than Fabian or Frankie Avalon in the 60's did, or Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy of the 70's, Debbie Gibson of the 80's or the New Kids Boy Groups of the 90's, who were all flash in the pan pop tarts of their time. They were more famous for selling copies of Tiger Beat Magazine than they were for selling music that actually meant anything.

    Miley Cyrus will now be known for one thing only... the wrecking ball vid... ( and oh boy, shouldn't daddy be proud of his little girl for that one).
    'Leave it to Beiber" will always be known as a no-talent, under pubescent teen girl's dream, if in ten years he's remembered at all... and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it is that Kanye West even does, other than spoiut off as a blow hard at awards ceremonies...

    The music that stands the test of time does so because they were well-crafted songs, performed with real talent and chops, arranged by real musicians who knew what they were doing, and that were recorded with the best fidelity possible at the time by engineers who knew their gear inside and out. Everyone had a particular job when a song was being recorded; from the writers to the arrangers, from the engineers to the session cats or performers... they all had one goal: to record great songs in the best quality available to them at the time.

    How many people do you figure are alive today who haven't heard I Wanna Hold Your Hand? I've seen 17 year old kids walking around wearing Beatles t-shirts. Some are young enough that their Grandparents were in their teen years when the Beatles broke up, or who were young kids when they first heard them. The Fabs are timeless because they wrote timeless music, and the music was recorded in a way that made it wonderful to listen to. It's now been 52 years since The Beatles came to America and played The Sullivan Show. ( 52 years as of yesterday, BTW) ... And you can still hear their music - and hear and see their influence - everywhere... over a half century later.

    I do hear new stuff I like; I like Ingrid Michaelson. I like Gotye. I like Leon Bridges. So it's not as if I'm some bitter old codger who longs for the days of cutting tape with a razor blade ( don't miss it at all, thank you very much), and I love new technology and the doors that it can open up. But I have observed that as these tools become more accessible to the masses, that the talent and skill levels of "artists" seem to have declined, as has the scenarios where musicians are all playing at once, or at least working together at the same time in a studio environment.

    It doesn't take as much talent anymore. Bad notes can now be computer corrected, so singing talent isn't a prerequisite anymore, or at least it's not as important as it used to be. Songs can now be "composed" by people who are really only good at editing; by people who've never miked an instrument in their lives... piecing together parts, copy-pasting entire sections, and creating a song out of nothing more than some samples, loops and beats. Image has taken priority over talent. There's too much attention paid to the look and the behavior of the artist ( and a little wrecking ball sex, or egging the neighbor's house controversy doesn't ever hurt either, because it's absolutely free PR) and not enough attention is being paid to the talent ( or lack thereof).

    But I still have hope. Somewhere out there in the world tonight, there's a young musician in his or her bedroom, or basement or attic studio, writing the next great timeless song. They're out there. They just need to be heard, and picked out and rescued from the ever-growing pile of crap being released by no talent wannabees who continually add to the pile - and all because they just so happen to own a copy of Pro Tools Lite and a cheap Chinese mic, they think they have the talent. Everyone wants to be a star...but few want to actually be skilled musicians and writers, or put the time into it that it requires to be that.

    IMHO of course.
     
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  17. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    True, that way the tempo dynamic is captured. You can't recreate this recording one track at a time.

    A band all locked in and recorded live is capturing that special magic as it happens, its capturing the moment in time.
     
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  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    at least they had the Wrecking Crew backing them up.

    when i think of how several musicians all lock in together even though there's milliseconds of delay before they hear what anyone else plays, i am amazed. this is what the one track at a time recording cannot duplicate. there's nothing as joyful as a room full of killer players all grooving.
     
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  19. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

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    You are right Kurt, nothing beats being there, whether you are one of those playing, or even just being in the room when it happens. Its electric, and to capture that moment, even better.
     
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  20. Neil Speers

    Neil Speers Active Member

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    I consider myself lucky that here in Alberta, there's a province wide radio station that plays a huge variety of music and will play locally produced independent artists (I've even been played on it.) If you want to check it out it's ckua.com - they have live streaming if you're not actually here. It's kind of like university stations but more mature in their outlook on music.

    As for playing live, I remember playing C and then B Rooms – I followed a different career path before getting good enough for A rooms.

    Anyone else remember those?

    If you don't, around here 'back in the day' when the musicians union ruled (late Jurassic period) band members had to be part of the union and the band would get a booking agent who would put them into union bars, rated C rooms (beginning bands), B rooms (pretty good bands who started getting a following) and A rooms for really good bands that could guarantee a good amount of beer sales. A room bands typically started writing their own songs and would then get a Recording Contract and release their albums.

    Then came punk. Nothing against the music, I played some myself. But that style introduced the idea that it is the 'emotion' of the songs not the technical skill that was important. The bands also hated 'the union' and 'the system' because most agents and rooms wouldn't book them.

    Soon came Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. More technically proficient and loud. Also hating unions and agents because they too didn't get booked very often.

    Neither group realized that the general public (outside of the established audiences for those bands); A) wants to hear at least faintly familiar music, and B) only has a certain amount of time to themselves as well as money, and if they are going to see live bands - the band had better be enjoyable to them.

    A lot of the bands - often not very good bands - started booking their own dates. Often they only had enough songs for one set, so they gang up as well, and not be able to play a 6 day gig. The bars saw an opportunity to save money by paying the bands less and not have to pay the agent.

    However, the music quality dropped, the audiences dwindled because they could go do 'dance clubs' with DJ's and listen to recordings which were crappy music but better quality than most of the bands booking their own gigs. So fewer and fewer bars even booked regular music if any.

    Yes, DJ's and MTV had an effect on the audiences - but from what I observed having been "in" and then "outside" of the industry; we musicians as a group accepted the change and didn't realize the damage getting away from the booking agent system would cause. The bands were no longer vetted to ensure they were at least a decent level of quality, and they didn't 'work their way up.'

    From what I'm seeing now - taking lots of courses on music marketing and promotion because I still have a lot of music to do before I die - the music industry and success (no matter how you want to define it for yourself) has gone from 'playing to be able to build an audience that will buy your records' to 'building an audience online who will come out and see you and buy records (and t-shirts, etc).'

    Whether you like his playing or not, Joe Bonamassa is a marketing machine. Sign up for his newsletter - it's crazy how much work goes into it. And it's working for him, along with his other marketing.
     
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