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Where is The Music Business Going?

Discussion in 'Music Business' started by audiokid, Jan 4, 2003.

  1. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    My main snivel about MP3s is they sound like sh*t! Even at best they are inferior to CDs. And CD’s are bad enough! The digital revolution has turned the music industry into a big pile of caa caa! Morons with no talent on “affordable” (read; inferior) gear, can make acceptable recordings via digital manipulation and the ability to keep doing punch ins and alternate virtual takes until they make a mistake that sounds good, overuse of digital processing, like compression that sounds nowhere as good as it’s analog counterparts, pitch and time correction, producers on power trips manipulating audio until it nowhere resembles what was originally recorded, kids growing up with no reason to really learn how to play good because they know the box can “fix” it, a musical genre that is really assembly art not music, …. It’s just one big heap of sh*t. And then there’s the bean counting AR people and record execs who have no taste other than their ability to discern a fine wine at some Hollywood night spot ... Ahh sh*t! …. there goes another nights sleep …… Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  2. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    I know this is getting a little off topic, but does anyone think some mp3 codecs can actually make the music sound better? Not to sound contrary to your opinion at all FATS. Its just that I thought I heard some old music that seemed to sound better after mp3 encoding, and I tried to think why. Knowing how the software encoding routine works, there is definitley stuff that gets filtered out. Maybe the sound opens up a little. Or maybe I'm a moron. :D
  3. dirtydog

    dirtydog Guest

    Interesting thread...

    This is something that has been bothering me for some time, as a musician. I must admit that it is rare that I will actually go out to checkout a band these days. It seems that it's a real crap shoot whether you are going to see a band that actually has any talent. That coupled with the fact that most rooms in my area seem to be dance clubs with acoustics like a glass cube, pumping these bands through PA's that sound pathetic, at a SPL that rivals a 747 at take-off. I'll pass, thanks.

    This is something that amuses me, cuz it's true. I find it funny how people are pulling their hair out trying to keep up with the technology by getting the latest digital board and recorder/DAW that can do 192K. Great. We (engineers and producers) then spend all that time trying to make it sound great (or not), argue on forums about which monitors are best ;) , just so most people can hear it in the worst format possible.

    Ahh hell, I love my job. :w:
  4. TheSoundman

    TheSoundman Active Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Home Page:
    I'd like to respond directly to Chris' original post. He brings up some good points.

    Sharing of music files over the Internet is going on, we all know this. The record companies are having a cow. We know this too. Right now they are primarily concerned with people downloading songs or artists they have heard on the radio and burning the compressed files to a CDR as opposed to purchasing a commercially produced CD.

    This may be new technology, but it is not a new concept. In the 80's, I used to roll a huge reel at 3 3/4 IPS of the local public radio new music show. (obviously FM radio also lacked the full bandwith of professionally pressed albums) After that I'd spend a little time to edit out the amature DJ's and songs I didn't care for, or already had and end up with a great cassette of new music that wasn't being played on commercial radio. At least a couple of girls I knew commented that part of the reason they liked hanging out with me was because I always had great music playing. (I really did it for the love of music in the first place, honest)

    As far as music sales being down, maybe it's just easy to blame the Internet and file sharing. Maybe something they should look at is what is being downloaded. I'm sure a lot of stuff available on commercially produced CD's comprises that but just possibly people are downloading stuff you can't get on CD or hear on the radio. A simple deal to allow file sharing to continue in exchange for tracking trends in music taste might help record companies pushing a new Britney Spears clone down people's throats every other week put them back on their feet.

    The ironic thing is that while the record companies are busy squashing "piracy" of copyrighted material, the real threat of the internet is as a vehicle to give artists direct access to consumers, thereby making them obsolete in the first place. If they supported distribution of popular music on the Internet, they might stay thier inevitable demise for a few more decades. Instead, they are chosing a path that will surely accelerate their extinction.
  5. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    No truer words spoken, than what "the soundman" said..
  6. AzureCrystal

    AzureCrystal Active Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    I keep waiting for 12" inch art to come back, would be nice to actually be able to "collect" music and the art again. Those tiny little CD covers and the crappy plastic really do not do the artists justice !! The key could be adding value to a CD purchase so the consumer feels he/she is missing out on an important part of the package if the just download the music. I really doubt the music industry will be able (and could afford) to close down the ever morphing music file sharing and downloading sites that will continue to popup as another one gets closed down.... -Steve
  7. Mark Burnley

    Mark Burnley Guest

    Fantastic thread...

    Okay, I love music, I like writing and recording the stuff, listening to it, designing gear for recording/listening etc. and collecting records, be it in vinyl :) or CD format.

    But above all, for me it comes down to the audio experience. Some tracks just ooze off vinyl because it's been mastered well. Some tracks just work the best on CD. I've even got stuff on 7.5ips R2R, and it sounds great.

    But to a lot of people, music is just about convenience. It's about having the tune/song/track available quickly, cheaply, simply. This week they want this track, next week that's in the Recycle Bin and the new latest track is in the MP3 player. This is why MP3 file sharing takes off. People are willing to compromise audio quality and not having a "product" to hold, for this convenience and portability/disposability.

    MP3 is great to let other people know what music you're doing. We can all share our tracks with eachother and we are aware of the limitations of the format.

    I personally will always want a "product" to actually pick up. Okay, CDs may have dulled the excitement of going to the local record shop and coming back with a big "slab" (especially a gatefold or double album) and coming home, listening to it and looking over the artwork/packaging.

    But some record companies that I know of have come up with a great plan..

    1. Supporting and promoting original sounding acts. And not just for the "honeymoon period" of getting signed- all bands/artists require time to develop, but companies require "constant returns" on their investment. An original sounding band that don't fit into a particular "genre" are not doomed to failure- they just need time to find their feet, develop their sound, get a local/national following, try some recording etc.

    Digital technology helps with this. The WWW enables people all over the world to find out about a band: Heard the name off a friend. Searched on a search engine. Found a homepage. Checked the biog. Saw the pics. Heard the MP3's. Like the tracks. Check out the Tour. Saw the band. Rocked :D . Right, I want their CD.....

    Home recording, with semipro gear, by people who are learning (as we all are- with help from RO ;) etc !!), is better than NO recording. How many songs are worked out on 4tks/MD recorders/DAW's/HD recorders? I'd rather a band come in a studio with a recording of their songs they've done at home/rehearsal studio/gig etc. because you'll hear a better idea of where they're coming from.

    2. Developing a quality product. It doesn't cost a lot to make a CD. More you make, cheaper it gets. Plastic case, one folded sheet, off to the stores... Some companies are offering a much better package. With care and experience, music can be captured to a professional standard. Hand printed/silkscreened packaging, quality paper/packaging, inserts, (one album from a well known?! Canadian band I bought a few years ago included a coin crushed by a passing train...if you're out there, thanks gsybe!!)

    I could go on, but don't want to be a hog...


    "Oscillators don't, amplifiers do..."
  8. pponomarev

    pponomarev Guest

    Exactly. If people feel there's only one worthwhile song, or that pretty much every song sounds the same, they'll just get it from the net. If, however, a band releases an ALBUM of merit, only true masochists would attempt to find every song on the album in acceptable MP3 quality. This doesn't prevent people from copying the album, but that's nothing new (reel-to-reel, cassettes)

    Great point. I was an honors student in Economics, and I always thought it was absurd that a company's or a nation's well-being was primarily determined by infinite growth, as opposed to other factors (productivity, efficiency, employment, market share, quality of life, etc.)

    Here in the US, personal savings are at an all-time low after the spending and investment binges of the mid-90's, yet every stupid Wall Street analyst seems to think we'll soon pick up where we left off in 2000. How can people buy more and more things indefinitely if they have no money? ... or these days, no job?

    But, I digress ...

    I agree with those who think Bands should focus on selling online for a reasonable price. There's no reason a CD should cost $18 when an album cost $6 10 years ago. CD's are far cheaper to produce, and people know it. Heck, you can sometimes buy a DVD movie for less than the price of the CD soundtrack. Go figure!

    Beyond that, I think bands should focus on making albums, with memorable packaging, strong unified concepts, and enough interdependent-yet-differentiated songs such that consumers will want the whole thing ... and at a price point that they won't want to waste 3-10 hrs finding the songs themselves.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Well-Known Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I don’t like downloading. IMO artist should get paid for what they do and I think when a person downloads a song at no charge they are stealing. That being said I also have a problem with the war that the record labels and the RIAA are currently waging and the way they are doing it. Record companies and the RIAA bringing actions and lobbying congress are simply following the lead of the insurance companies in the 80’s by attempting to legislate profits. Get a law passed that guarantees increased profit. Example; Insurance company has to pay out “x” amount for auto accident injuries. Answer, get mandatory seat belt laws passed. Instant profit! Kids getting hurt in a bicycle accident? Mandatory helmet law. Motorcycles? Mandatory helmet laws …. Legislated profits. Well the record labels and the RIAA have taken this lead and decided that this is a way to squeeze extra profit without having to actually do anything. Grease a few palms and there you are. Mo’ Money!
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  10. jimab

    jimab Guest

    what about a good booking agent? i just saw cheap trick @ house of blues in new orleans ... they were great, unsigned band from new york ... the damnwells... they were working with the same booking co. anyone know of a good booking agent ?
  11. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Jun 29, 2001
    Ab, send me an email, I found something that looks attractive...
  12. gonefishin

    gonefishin Guest

  13. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    I look at artists like Jonatha Brooke and Grey Eye Glances as a model for success in the current environment. While not household names by any means, they're smartly and aggressively marketing on their own websites, getting airplay on progressive stations (why bother with Clear Channel affiliates anymore?), doing exclusive content CD deals with outlets like Borders bookstores as a perk to getting distribution there. They have their own labels, are independantly produced, attract top notch production to their causes. They aren't in the platinum sales category, but they're doing better than when they had label deals! Meanwhile, here in Nashville the "hat act" cloning experiments continue to fail miserably (hee hee hee!)
  14. johnnyrock

    johnnyrock Guest

    The thing about the internet is that it takes the "means of distribution" out of the hands of the big 5 record labels and put's it (in theory) directly into the hands of recording artists and small independant labels.This is why the industry has been so adament about downloading.It's not that they are massively concerned with downloading,though they are concerned,it's that they understand that if properly utilized the internet makes them totaly almost fully obsolete.The entire thrust of their legal agenda has been geared towards their need to control the terms of the distribution of "all" music on the internet,not just to guarantee proper compensation for artists and copyright holders.

    The PC revoluation,and the ensuing advances in audio technology,have made it possible to to produce very listenable music out of your home at a very modest cost,thus taking the means of production out of the hands of the industry as well.The combination of advanves in PC and audio technology along with the internet means that the recording industry is in the process of losing control of both the means of production,and means of distribution,of recorded music around the world.Thus ensuring their Marxist like control over the industry is doomed.
  15. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Record companies are not selling CDs because people are not buying them. PERIOD

    The reasons for the general public not purchasing CDs is manifold. Here are some of the reasons....

    1.They download music off the web using peer-to-peer networking so they get the music they want and don't have to pay for it.
    Not good for the musicians and record labels that depend on this income to pay the bills. Many people seem to think they are not hurting anyone by doing this but we all get hurt since the artist and record companies are receiving less income and therefore may decide not to do another album which means that people who run recording studios are not making money which means their equipment and supplies suppliers are not making money which means that the whole recording industry is making less money and therefore less likely to take chances on new acts or new equipment since they are not sure what their income will be or how steady.

    2.They copy their friend's CDs in their computers so again they don't have to pay for anything other than a blank CD and they can copy only the songs they want. The same thing applies here no money to the record companies = no money spent by the record company to produce new CDs.

    3.They want a lot of music but don't have the money to purchase the CDs at $18.99 a pop (Border's NEW price point) so they download it off the net for free. I think by now most people understand that it cost less than $3.00 per CD to "produce them" so someone is making money off the CDs. Some of this "profit" goes into advertising, some to the record companies, some to the artist but a lot of it goes to the middle persons the distributors and retailers that hawk the product. Big retailers like Borders have very high overhead and they are having to charge a premium for most things. The sales that you see are "loss leaders" and are usually limited to the newest albums, ones that the public wants. The mom and pop record stores were overwhelmed by Borders when the first got a hold in an area so they are no longer a factor in CD sales and now Borders and stores like them can charge what they want. I heard recently that Border's wants to limit people from ordering off the web buy having the record companies agree to long term "deals" where they would have the exclusive right to sell the CDs of certain artists ONLY at Borders. (this maybe an urban myth so don't take it for gospel)

    4.They Consumer isn't interested in a lot of what is being produced today and can't stand the quality drop that has gone on in the past 5 years.

    5.They are into DVDs and home theater so they no longer need or want to listen to new CDs. (why is it that you can purchase a DVD with 6 hours of material on it for $14.99 but a CD with 45 minutes on it still costs $18.99?)

    6.They don't like all the songs on an album and refuse to pay for the "padding" of songs that most of the major labels are doing now so they copy the songs they want off the internet or off their friend's CD which are also bootlegged.

    7.They aren't interested in the audio quality of recordings anymore and so MP3s fill the need for listening to music so they can download the MP3's off the internet for free.

    8.They listen to digital radio and make copies of the songs they want on their Ipods. ( a lot of people say this is impossible but if you can hear you can sure make a copy of it even if it is in analog and if you are using MP3s then who really cares about the quality)

    9. They have a fairly good CD collection of well recorded well produced songs and they listen to them instead of buying the current "junque" offered by many record companies.

    10. They are tired of going to stores and trying to find what they want to hear only to be told that they are "out of stock" or "we only carry the latest albums by that artist" . The record stores use to have people in them that knew music but they now employ minimum wage teenyboppers who don't know the stock and if the computer is down would not know how to look up an album in the bins if their lives depended on it.

    11. Or, most likely, they are simply tired of being manipulated by the record companies and their push for ever more hype and have gone into reading books or going to live concerts.

    These are my takes as to why there is such a decline in CD sales in recent years.

    The RIAA would like everyone to believe that it is all caused ONLY! by the downloaders but it is not. The RIAA is run by lawyers and not by musicians so the only way they know how to stop the downloading is to sue everyone. If the record companies would provide alternative ways of getting the music, such as Apple has done on their website, they would get better results. But instead they want congress to legislate laws that will guarantee them the profits they think they are losing. It is the old give me liberty or my profits routine.

    The day of buying expensive, over priced CDs that are badly recorded and badly produced and have one or two good songs on them is OVER. The RIAA should get some fresh blood in their corporate hierarchy and start rethinking the whole process and so should the record companies.

    Maybe someone in the "music business" will sit up and take notice but I doubt it and the CD sales will continue to erode.

    FWIW and MTCW
  16. golli

    golli Active Member

    Apr 17, 2003
    Great post Thomas.
    I recently had the pleasure of discovering an album made in 92'. I went to the store, looking for a record in the B section, could'nt find it but stumbled up on Blind Melon. I instantly rememberd the only song of it that got some airplay (where I live anyway) "No Rain". But after listening to it I found out that, this wasnt the best song on the album. The whole album is a great one, so I bought it!! I only say this because my recent experiences are vice versa. I go to a store with the "hit single" in my head, only to discover that the rest of the album is just to fill up space.
    Maybe it is just me or the way I remember it, albums use to be better then nowadays.

    There must be a way to put music to the masses in a simpler way.

    And some of my own thaughts:
    When Beyonce Knowles gets hyped up as one of the greats!!
    When OK Computer is considered to be one of the great albums!!
    When Marilyn Manson is even given the time of day (or even airplay)!!
    When a lifeless "has been" band gets a Grammy for metal performance!!
    And Autotune!!
  17. soundchannel

    soundchannel Guest

    great post thomas and golli:
    I'd like to add to this thread..the art of songwriting as we all know has gone down the tubes,quality control in a record label doesn't exist anymore...like it once did back in the days ,cause lawyers and accountants run the industry today.., not experienced producers/songwriters.Labels have the same lame group of friends producing the same lame music ....AND NO ONE IS ALLOWED IN THERE CIRCLE...DOORS CLOSED..Point is ..leave music to people who know about the art of songwriting and not someone who has a B.A in marketing..trying to sell us some meat by product named britney spears,christina.A
  18. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Many say that the decline in CD sales is not due to mp3 "downloading and trading"

    Heres my thought...

    when I was a kid it was cool to trade baseball cards. I had tons of cards, thousands of cards. Many of which I had no idea I even had. But in anycase it was a hobbie. I would trade one card for another with friends and we would collect them. Only to see that the majority were stuffed in a suitcase or shoe boxes.

    3, 4, 5 years ago broadband internet connections started to come to life. The capapbility slowly evolved into the living rooms of your typical middle income house hold. While this technology made its way into the worlds computers. The up and comming generations were playing online network games and discovering mp3 technology. All at the same time the prices of CD recorders were dropping and the cost of media were dramatically declining.

    While all of this was going on mom and dad sat in the living room watching tv etc.... this isnt to bash on the bringing up of children but the simple fact is that these generations of kids simply dont know any better. To these kids trading mp3's are like the times I was trading baseball cards. The difference? well... I didnt copy my baseball card and trade it off as an authentic card. I paid for some cards (the vender got their money) and my cards would make their way to various neighborhood friends collections.

    The mp3 generation loves to collect music, loves to have the bragging rights of 1million terrabytes of mp3's. Even this as bad as it may seem isnt nearly as terrible as peer to peer sharing. The peer to peer technology is what is killing any hope I ever had for mp3's with the combination of HUGE bandwidth, high capacity hard drives and the easy to use software...

    they scary part? these generations are now growing up and will EXPECT to get their music for free for the rest of their life... some say they will mature and understand what is right and wrong. I think more than likely it will be the other way and the majority will just go about their business looking for that next tune in usenet, kazaa etc..why would you pay $1/song when you can get a copy from a friend? (the threat of their band not producing another album?) if this is to be the case the music business will have to come to a screeching hault in order for the consumer to undertand their actions.

    this is in many ways is very similar to software piracy. software pirates many of times will love to claim their 50 gillion gigs of software that ehy never ever use other than to participate in peer to peer sharing. The difference here is that software is typically larger than mp3's, software can be difficult to pirate due to copy protection and well the commercial/corporate industry supports many of the large software companies as they cannot afford to install pirated software on company computers.

    music for the most part is produced for the music loving consumer. therefore we are dependent on the consumer to pay for the music they choose to listen to.

    With all of that said. All I can say is its quite sad to see what our industry has evolved to.
  19. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    I have to disagree.... once you are used to getting it for free there isnt a price they can put on CD's that will make them want to pay instead of copying (nothing beats FREE). I think the success of cd sales is old school and there will have to be some creative ways of earning that revenue.... perhaps touring?
  20. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    that's why artist today have to take the bull by the horn and be cook, waiter and botle washer all at once- who can count on a major label promoting you but a chosen few- we badly need a new distribution system for indie music akin to itunes but cheaper (2 or three for 99 cents) with a filtering agent built in to separate the good music from the not so good- mp3.com went down under the weight of too many bad songs- people just didn't want to sift through the crap to get to the gems-

    that's what I hope we can eventually do here in RO, be an online distribution network for good indie artists- we have a good foundation of knowleageable members that can help up sift trough the songs and publish just the good stuff- can we do it? Time will tell the tale, but its my fervent hope we do and that we are at the forefront of the the next revolution- the one where the artist control their destinies and present their music straight to the people- (and collect income accordingly) the vehicle that achieves this will be big, real big- I hope we are the ones here at RO

    hey, I want to get my music out there just like the next guy and I also want to be in the first wave of the revolution- come on people, lets get our heads together and help Chris start the revolution! All revolutions start at the talking stage and we can certainly do this here- we certainly have the resources, the studios, the producers, the mastering engineers, the knowleageable members who can judge the music- we probably even got the bucs! I would not mind buying in at the ground floor of the next big music thing! How about people- whatcha think! i say lets stop complaining about the disaray of the music business and start planning the next move!
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