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The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

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The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Stuarto » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:22 am

I was just reading this on the register and thought SOS readers might be interested: battle_of_ideas_music_debate
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby narcoman » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:55 am

the answer is easy; global thermonuclear war.





howe about a nice game of chess?
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:04 am

I've just been part of a team looking into this!

The music business has experienced massive disruption from the shift to digital, with music downloads, piracy and, more recently, streaming from sites like Spotify, Pandora and Last FM all forcing change.

While the sector as a whole is growing, these pressures have meant that its sources of income have begun to shift as revenue from recorded music has declined. According to eMarketer, a US research firm, worldwide music industry revenue increased from $60.7 billion in 2006 to $67.6 billion in 2011. Over the same period, however, income from recorded music fell from $36 billion to $34.7 billion while income from live events increased from $16.6 billion to $23.5 billion.

Increased revenue from live performances has been welcome, but what is happening to recorded music? In a nutshell, income from online and mobile sales has been rising, but is not enough to offset the decline in physical sales.

As this suggests, the pattern of how people consume music is far from settled. A lot of old school people still like downloads and owning, and a lot of young people have only known streaming or stealing. Our job is to persuade them that stealing content is unacceptable and the only way you can make that case is to make everything available legitimately and provide better and more enticing product, better packaged.

The music industry used to be 2% of consumer entertainment spending – it went up to 3% for a while and now it’s probably back down to about 2%. There are so many genres and sub-genres now, so there are fewer big acts with crossover hits. The hip hop stars in the US are pretty big, but they’re not as big as the stars of the 1970s and 1980s, or even the 1990s. For an industry that relies on hits, this is a major problem.

For people to talk about content disruptors and putting some mythical genie back in a bottle is ludicrous. It implies that something is coming to an end and will die. There are changes in the methods of distribution, that’s all. It’s how you enhance your offering that really counts. The great thing about digital is that it eliminates much fixed cost and therefore risk. We don’t have to manufacture. Distribution is quite an easy process and it’s changing from day to day.

And I like change!

The biggest two changes have been the move away from labels and centralised distributors, to the act maintaining control of product and secondly, and the move of revenue increase in live and recorded live music. That means big, spectacular shows and high quality and hi-def DVD sales of those shows, being financed, organised and sold and licensed to pay-per-view (HBO) by the acts themselves, or via finance provided by distributors, such as Universal.

So those losing out on CD sales, all I can say is, get with the programme. The studio recording is dead, long live the big concert and the live DVD!
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Trebor Flow » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:01 pm

narcoman wrote:the answer is easy; global thermonuclear war


Is that a new PS3 game :-)

tf

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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Eddy Currents » Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:14 pm

The perception of the value of something has always remained a mystery to me.
I believe the value of music has declined significantly from when I was younger.
As more products and opportunities exist that compete with music and ones disposable income.
As pressure continues on the purchaser through our society to obtain items and have association with perceived success.
How can one increase the perception of the value of music today ?
Of the value of the lives of those who create it and the support teams that facilitate that creation.
And how does one build a magical infrastructure that facilitates purchasers becoming aware of a quality product that doesn't require a Syco, a Radio 1 or a Jools Holland.
Word of mouth and hard graft are essential tools , the Internet the great hope.
But the Internet is also the biggest Library in the world. How many great books exist just waiting to be found that never will be.
I imagine who ever solves this one would have the thanks of all the creative industries.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Soundseed » Fri Oct 26, 2012 12:10 pm

Eddy Currents wrote:The perception of the value of something has always remained a mystery to me.
I believe the value of music has declined significantly from when I was younger.
As more products and opportunities exist that compete with music and ones disposable income.
As pressure continues on the purchaser through our society to obtain items and have association with perceived success.
How can one increase the perception of the value of music today ?

The ironic thing is that perception of value of music has only gone downhill from the consumer's perspective. From the producer/creator's perspective, it has massively increased: more and more people want to get in on the act, and produce and release music, meaning more and more businesses servicing and profiting from this need. The good thing is that this brings economies of scale where people can access incredible production tools which were once limited to those with proper record deals. The bad thing is that economy of scale requires continually stimulating and developing demand, which means a market saturated with people making music.

Here in Scotland, a large scale report (Mapping The Music Industry In Scotland, 2003) found amongst the population of 5,000,000, only 179 musicians earning some part of their living from creating/composing/performing original music. They classified music income according to 7 medians, with the lowest at £2,500, (35 musicians) rising through to £3,000,000 (1 musicians). The total earned was put at £9,270,000. So even if you redistributed that soviet style, so that each musician earned £20,000 you'd still have only 463 musicians. And here's the thing: there are 5,000 registered practicing doctors in Scotland. Its simply supply and demand - society wants lots of doctors (and other professions), but not many musicians.

The harsh reality is that there is no way round these stubborn facts. Just because lots of businesses have monetised musical aspiration does not automatically imbue music with value.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby GlynB » Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:05 pm

Back in the day of high record sales the market stimulated production and supported countless record labels pushing out product chasing the 'hits' (which was not necessarily of high quality), so there has never been a shortage of recorded music product around.

People value fresh air, but they don't expect to pay for it.

We may as well ask how can we go back to the 1980s. The days of shifting music units (as in physical product) are gone (Adele notwithstanding).

As to how this affects musicians... back then you had to be on a label in order to even make your record, but the good thing was that if you were, there was a fair chance that someone would hear it due to PR capability and connections.

Now, with the skills and technology, you can make a record independently, but there's a slim chance anyone will hear it (unless you also happen to have a few £k for PR). Different times, different problem.

Personally I prefer today, where an artist can at least create the recordings without first having to secure significant outside investment. The art (I would say 'joy') of recording is made possible and democratised, creative possibilities open up for the individual musician.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:24 pm

Er? We were home-recording back in the 60s, people home-record today. You needed the gateway function of serious finances and industry muscle in the 60s and you still need those things today.

The gateway function of having the finances to make an impact on the market is still there. The CD as a stand-alone commercial product is dead. You can release all the CDs you like, but it can only today be bundled with a concert DVD, or be used as a concert ticket, or as a free-bee with some rag.

The album may have been the cat's pyjamas in the 60s to the mid-90s, but today you need to fill big halls and stadiums with a spectacular show, record that and put it out as a DVD and a Home Box Office special.

Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil!
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:30 pm

I was really hoping this might be about getting music creation away from computers (other than as recording devices :-)
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Gone To Lunch » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:42 pm

GlynB wrote:

We may as well ask how can we go back to the 1980s. The days of shifting music units (as in physical product) are gone (Adele notwithstanding).


But if Adele is shifting lots of units, then surely the days of shifting music units aren't gone ?

So what is about Adele that shifts units ?

Personally, I for one am a fan, so I'm inclined to think its good songs well sung and well recorded....and well marketed of course...
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby GlynB » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:29 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Er? We were home-recording back in the 60s, people home-record today.


Are you serious? "We" who is 'we'?

Succesful artists such as The Rolling Stones or Beatles (etc) may have had four track machines at home back in the day, but recording seriously at home was surely not affordable back in the 1960s for anyone other than millionairs who could afford the super high cost of the technology of the time.

I don't count having a real to real mono tape recorder (no matter how top of the range for the time) and one mic to record a band as serious home recording. Serious home recording includes multi-track capabilty and mixing etc.

Musicians were desperate to get into studios back then, it was the holy grail if you wanted to have a proper recording of your band, there was no alternative. Now there is, due to affordable technology. The game has totally changed from the 1960s as far as technology goes!

The challenge of getting heard has not changed at all IMO.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:51 pm

GlynB wrote:I don't count having a real to real mono tape recorder (no matter how top of the range for the time) and one mic to record a band as serious home recording. Serious home recording includes multi-track capabilty and mixing etc.

When was the Portastudio 144? Very early 80s? Before that I was doing some "sound-on-sound" with a Revox, but mostly just putting a microphone in front of a live performance. And I'd count that as perfectly serious home recording! Not THAT different to today's "music construction" except that we did the construction before pressing Record :-)
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Folderol » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:45 pm

The trouble with our (ElReg) Andrew is that he tends to grab an idea then just run with it... in all directions!

I rather sit on the fence myself. I can appreciate the skill and effort a good production team puts in, but at the same time am very happy being a hobbyist musician able (at last) to reproduce ideas I couldn't begin to consider just 20 years ago - and some only possible in the last 10. Even so, I haven't lost my love of 'real' music played live, and support such musicians and events when and where I can.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:54 pm

GlynB wrote:
The Red Bladder wrote:Er? We were home-recording back in the 60s, people home-record today.

Are you serious? "We" who is 'we'?

The we is me. Anyway, I can't be chit-chatting to the likes of you when the Sudocream is calling.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Eddy Currents » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:55 pm

Hi Folderol
Your more often likely to find me aimlessly running around in circles than in all directions
Totally agree with the marvel of how technology has changed in 20 years and how it's empowered us all.
Now how do I get rid of these L-plates
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby narcoman » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:17 pm

Gone To Lunch wrote:

Personally, I for one am a fan, so I'm inclined to think its good songs well sung and well recorded....and well marketed of course...

Good songs, well sung POORLY recorded!!

Real answer : the whole package was right. She also benefited from being the right voice at the right time with many interesting circumstances leading up to the inevitability of her success. All very well done... can't plan for it though.

A point on "so there still are big unit sellers" - even as recently as 2004 we would have 10 to 20 of these per year. Adele is now a rarity rather than something all the labels head towards.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby GlynB » Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:16 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:
GlynB wrote:
The Red Bladder wrote:Er? We were home-recording back in the 60s, people home-record today.

Are you serious? "We" who is 'we'?

The we is me. Anyway, I can't be chit-chatting to the likes of you when the Sudocream is calling.

'we you' I can accept, 'we we' is a no no.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby fay spook » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:40 pm

Eddy Currents wrote:The perception of the value of something has always remained a mystery to me.
I believe the value of music has declined significantly from when I was younger.
As more products and opportunities exist that compete with music and ones disposable income.
As pressure continues on the purchaser through our society to obtain items and have association with perceived success.
How can one increase the perception of the value of music today ?

I dont have the angst of the value of something, I just buy records etc. If the album is £10 or £20 I dont worry I just buy the one I like. The value is still there but I have had a lifetime of it and not much is quite as exciting as when I was discovering things for the first time. That is the way of things.

My disposable income goes to much the same places as it did 30 years ago- music (records, gigs, publications(SOS!), recording/instruments (aka software), hi-fi etc), general going out, clothes, sports. Yes more goes on the mortgage but that is hardly disposable income!! SO what does compete with music? BTW no kids and no playstation.

Make people buy vinyl records, gatefold 180g editions. That will give you some perceived value
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:00 am

"I don't count having a real to real mono tape recorder (no matter how top of the range for the time) and one mic to record a band as serious home recording. Serious home recording includes multi-track capabilty and mixing etc."

Sorry Glynn that is bllx. Even the very "domestic" Grundig TK60 could make very good stereo recordings. Given a well setup A77 (and "we" knew how to do that!) and a home built triode mic amp/mixer, very good results were possible.

Maybe you are confusing good SOUND recording with multitrack "Beatles" tricks?

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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:51 pm

Multitrack recording didn't exist in any practical form until the early 1960s even in high-end pro studios, and didn't reach semi-pro studios until the early 70s really -- and home studios couldn't really afford the technology until the start of the 80s.

Only someone who has never tried working in mono with minimal facilities would claim that serious recording has to involve multitrack and mixing. Getting a well balanced mix from a live band performance using only one (or two) well-placed mic(s) is a very serious challenge and it is the height of ignorance to dismiss the early pioneers who mastered this artform in my view.

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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby ef37a » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:18 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Multitrack recording didn't exist in any practical form until the early 1960s even in high-end pro studios, and didn't reach semi-pro studios until the early 70s really -- and home studios couldn't really afford the technology until the start of the 80s.

Only someone who has never tried working in mono with minimal facilities would claim that serious recording has to involve multitrack and mixing. Getting a well balanced mix from a live band performance using only one (or two) well-placed mic(s) is a very serious challenge and it is the height of ignorance to dismiss the early pioneers who mastered this artform in my view.

H
Quite! And if were a cynical old huffer one might even say multitracking was invented partly to make up for less than steller musicianship!

I have a DVD of MJQ off the telly (Steve Race presenting and 4038s on most things) that sounds wonderful!

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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby The Red Bladder » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:09 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Multitrack recording didn't exist in any practical form until the early 1960s even in high-end pro studios, and didn't reach semi-pro studios until the early 70s really -- and home studios couldn't really afford the technology until the start of the 80s.


A bit earlier than that, but that's about right. In 1964, I began our school's tape recording club and people like Grundig and Phillips gave us free reels of tape and we subscribed as a club to the magazine 'The Tape Recorder' (later to become Studio Sound). Recording of the school orchestra and bands was done in basic stereo and more complex 'soundscape' projects were done with several tape recorders bouncing the signals from one to another. The 'status' machine to have was a Grundig, but the drool-machine was a great big hairy (and very, very heavy) Ferrograph.

It was after this time, that I went to college and discovered girls and interest in tape recorders had to take a back seat. By this time, I was in the Ferrograph league, but you can't position microphones successfully, when you are excused clothing.

The first cheap Teac four-tracks came out in the mid-70s and cost about £250, but the first affordable Teac 4-track (the 2340) was launched as early as 1968! I remember having to import a later model (the 3440) in 1978 or 9 (via very dodgy routes to avoid import duties) directly from the US. About the same time, all sorts of companies were launching cheaper models - Soundcraft and Allen-&-Heath-Brennel spring to mind. Then came a flood of this stuff around 1980 onwards, with Teac launching the dead dodgy 1" 16 track that only had any bass if you bought the slower 15 ips model. Teac also launched those dreadful 4-track cassette things in 1980.

At the time, complexity of sounds was all the rage and everybody and their mothers-in-law had to have a pukka 24-track to stay in the game and we all went wild over the latest effects. The MXR DD1000 and the Eventides flew off the shelves and for about 20 halcyon years, we could look down our noses at anything and everything that was not 2"-24 track.

At first, there was not the fuss (focus, stress, pick a word) that we make today over microphones and monitors. As we were layering sounds like crazy and throwing every effect known to humanity at everything, good microphones were usually the last items on the shopping list. With time (and improved tape and machines) we learned to hear the difference between a Sennheiser MD441 and a Neumann.

The biggest difference to today, was that today, most cheaper mics sound OK-ish. Back then, anything less than a better Sennheiser sounded as if it had been swallowed by the cat. Even the first generations of Japanese c-mics were dire rubbish and the dynamic stuff from the likes of Grundig and Phillips was junk (even if it is sold today on eBay as 'vintage!')

But, to get back to the point about home recording, by 1960, there were THREE magazines devoted to home recording in the UK and for more in the US. In the UK, at first, there was Tape Recording Magazine launched in 1957, followed by The Tape Recorder and Amateur Tape Recording and in 1968, Teac had launched its first 4-track home machine.

If we were not all mad about home recording, who the hell bought all those machines and magazines then?
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby ef37a » Sun Nov 04, 2012 1:34 pm

Hi Red.
Heh! I well remember the crap mics of the day! Bog S Phiips fixed speed 3.3/4ips, came with a crystal mic. Sounded like a bee in a tin.

I remember the magazines and such BBC worthies as Arthur Garrett always stressing the importance of a good microphone. The go to "reporters" mic was the Grampian DP4 IIRC and Reslo RB ribbons for music work. I still have a couple of working RBs but wish I could find some (user) replacement ribbons for one of them.

Dave.
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Re: The Big Music Debate: How do we stuff the digital genie back in the bottle?

Postby IvanSC » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:31 pm

GlynB wrote:
The Red Bladder wrote:Er? We were home-recording back in the 60s, people home-record today.

Are you serious? "We" who is 'we'?

Succesful artists such as The Rolling Stones or Beatles (etc) may have had four track machines at home back in the day, but recording seriously at home was surely not affordable back in the 1960s for anyone other than millionairs who could afford the super high cost of the technology of the time.

I don't count having a real to real mono tape recorder (no matter how top of the range for the time) and one mic to record a band as serious home recording. Serious home recording includes multi-track capabilty and mixing etc.

Musicians were desperate to get into studios back then, it was the holy grail if you wanted to have a proper recording of your band, there was no alternative. Now there is, due to affordable technology. The game has totally changed from the 1960s as far as technology goes!

The challenge of getting heard has not changed at all IMO.


I made my first proper record on a small label in 1963.
It was on a Phillips professional machine. Single track mono 7.5ips with a small preamp/mixer that had precisely two inputs. Done in an upstairs room of a pub.

We paid for the recording ourselves including vinyl pressing and a small production run "to see how it does". I have one of the originals left and I believe the singer has one. Almost made our money back! (grin)

Around the same time, another band called Jokers Wild did the same thing on the same label. Google them.

P.S. Not sure they ever made their money back either.....
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