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OT--Big Record Companies Sue Online


ProfD

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GD, big brother is at it again.

 

CLONK

 

Since at warp speed the information superhighway is digging into the profits of big record companies, they want to sue or settle. :(

 

Youtube, Google, MySpace, etc., provide a form of marketing and promotion. The companies should applaud artists for increasing their exposure.

 

Instead, they want to maintain the monopoly on product placement and control of revenue. :rolleyes:

 

The fact still remains, if/when record companies put out quality product consumers want to buy, they will. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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The only area that I find a bit difficult is in the case of music that's long 'out of print' and hard to come by. There is also stuff such as old and rare concert footage on YouTube.

 

Of course all of this stuff still falls under copyright law, but there is such a thing as 'abandonware' in software, and some companies (I think) have turned a blind eye to old ROMs of arcade games or video games being posted online. So I think there is a definite grey area where no-one really 'cares' that something is being freely distributed but it's not cost effective to work out the legal issues to release it (and if it could be, no doubt it'd end up on iTunes or similar anyway.)

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The decreased quality in released music stems from the bandwagon approach IMO.

 

Companies trying to keep up with one another by tapping into whatever is currently hot. Even if it is crap. :rolleyes:

 

A number of things have contributed to the loss leader direction in which music is heading. I'm sure technology has a lot to do with that too. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Originally posted by ProfD:

The decreased quality in released music stems from the bandwagon approach IMO.

 

Companies trying to keep up with one another by tapping into whatever is currently hot. Even if it is crap. :rolleyes:

They have always done that, haven't they? And often there was great music created in whatever happened to be the style of the day. Having said that, poor market conditions = less risk-taking. If you ask what's changed, the only thing that's really clear is mass online piracy. I suspect, though, the real reasons are a more complicated--and no-one seems to have a really convincing answer as to the poor quality of today's music. (Yes, there has always been plenty of garbage... but count the number of 'classic' records this decade and compare it to 6 years of other decades and I think you'll get a lower number.)

 

One idea I have is for the record industry needs to generate subscription music services that have tons of new content online. These need to divide up into lots of small market segments and then use writing and production teams to create lots of music in the most efficient way possible. The old music industry of generating 'big hits' to get you to goto the store and buy physical content, developing big name acts as 'brands' and spending a lot of money on marketing, music videos, etc., does not fit in with this. Compared to many other sectors the record industry is absolutely pathetically inefficient with extremely poor quality control and far from the claims of 'manufactured' music looks more like a cottage industry.

 

(I mean, for example, at his peak Jan Hammer was churning out new music for every episode of 'Miami Vice'... and just how often do bands/artists release new albums, which are typically full of worthless filler anyway?)

 

The only problem is there is no band mythology or stupid marketing story or fashion to promote/sell with this.

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Originally posted by soundscape:

I suspect, though, the real reasons are a more complicated--and no-one seems to have a really convincing answer as to the poor quality of today's music.

Here's a theory for you...

 

Record labels have always been about control. The smarter bands/artists know better than to sign the terrible contracts proffered by record execs. They want a better deal, and the labels aren't willing to give them one. Therefore, the labels must pass up on these smarter (and inevitably more talented) bands and artists and settle for their stupider, more starry-eyed compatriots, who can be easily controlled, at the expense of being far less talented musically speaking.

 

Of course, the advent of Auto-Tune and hand-editing tracks in ProTools didn't exactly help the overall quality of music coming out of LA either, did it? Who needs talent - teach 4 kids to half-ass play and/or sing a pile of songs, and let the engineers fix the mess.

 

Nirvana ushered in a new era of lowered expectations for musicians. It's starting, two decades later, to finally come back around. People are rejecting crap music. Yes, the latest Nickelback single still sells on MTV, but even MTV is having to start catering to a revived audience with an ear for something better than that three-chord tripe.

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Originally posted by Griffinator:

Nirvana ushered in a new era of lowered expectations for musicians.

Huh?? MTV killed off musicianship well before Nirvana came around. (New Kids on the Block, anyone?) And many people actually consider Nirvana a savior of legitimate, emotional rock 'n roll due to the stake that they drove through the hearts of every pansy-ass hair metal band playing stadium tours in the late 80s: Poison, Cinderella, Motley Crue (after they stopped being cool but before their re-birth), Dokken, Skid Row, etc., etc., etc.

 

Noah

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Originally posted by Griffinator:

Record labels have always been about control. The smarter bands/artists know better than to sign the terrible contracts proffered by record execs. They want a better deal, and the labels aren't willing to give them one. Therefore, the labels must pass up on these smarter (and inevitably more talented) bands and artists and settle for their stupider, more starry-eyed compatriots, who can be easily controlled, at the expense of being far less talented musically speaking.

IMHO a good proportion of the best popular songs were written by "outside" writers (Burt Bacharach or Carole King for instance) and not "three chords and a guitar" bands. Even The Beatles had "some help" from George Martin. Historically record companies have funded big projects such as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and hired the some of the best arrangers (Quincy Jones!), session musicians and songwriters for them.

 

Originally posted by Griffinator:

Of course, the advent of Auto-Tune and hand-editing tracks in ProTools didn't exactly help the overall quality of music coming out of LA either, did it?

Makes no difference--no need for any high-tech processing--if the singer is cr*p then you just "ghost" the vocals, do even more takes and vocal comping, and otherwise use backing vocalists to the max. (Of course some before non-linear editing some poor guy had the job of manual editing...) Having said that, I don't like the sound of blatantly Auto-Tuned vocals.

 

You'll get a better overall vocal from the better singer, however.

 

Originally posted by Griffinator:

Nirvana ushered in a new era of lowered expectations for musicians.

Nirvana certainly did not do much to promote the aesthetics of beauty in music and I can't stand to listen to their stuff. They also come with an idiotic level of "band mythology" and "cultural baggage" that has precisely nothing to do with music. I'm not sure, however, that they weren't reasonably capable musically--I remember reading they used some interesting chord progressions in their tracks, for instance.

 

It was also at this time that the rise of idiotic "DJ culture" music with no discernible "tune" to speak of happened, at least in Europe.

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Originally posted by NoahZark:

Originally posted by Griffinator:

Nirvana ushered in a new era of lowered expectations for musicians.

Huh?? MTV killed off musicianship well before Nirvana came around. (New Kids on the Block, anyone?)
I think you'll find Maurice Starr (who wrote and produced the well known NKOTB tracks) is a perfectly capable musician.

 

Originally posted by NoahZark:

And many people actually consider Nirvana a savior of legitimate, emotional rock 'n roll due to the stake that they drove through the hearts of every pansy-ass hair metal band playing stadium tours in the late 80s: Poison, Cinderella, Motley Crue (after they stopped being cool but before their re-birth), Dokken, Skid Row, etc., etc., etc.

I'd rather hear Bon Jovi than Nirvana any day of the week, but I'm not sure that's due to inferior music from Nirvana or just personal taste. Do Gn'R also qualify as an "pansy-ass hair metal band"? (Which, BTW, describes the band image, and is not a criticism of the music per se?)

 

What "MTV"--or rather the rise of the music video--probably did, however, was force some shift away from the music per se and focus on band image ('serious' bands appear to also have false mythology, so I'm not just talking about boy bands here) and resulted in more money being spent on music videos than the music itself. However, I don't think this manifested itself in poor music in the 80's.

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If there is an overriding theme I find, people criticise the music industry for being about image and not music, and then start assessing music based on its product position/band image/true or not mythology invented about the band/artist, and not musical factors. Go figure.
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Originally posted by ProfD:

GD, big brother is at it again.

 

CLONK

 

Since at warp speed the information superhighway is digging into the profits of big record companies, they want to sue or settle. :(

Well, I actually just bothered to read that article!

 

"On Monday morning, the Universal Music Group said it will offer thousands of its music videos to the millions of users of YouTube, ending a public feud over the protection of artists' rights." (Also deals with Warner and Sony.)

 

...and the bad news here is?

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

Instead, they want to maintain the monopoly on product placement and control of revenue. :rolleyes:

I'm sure they'd love to maintain absolute control, but I dunno--seems to me it's easier than ever for to 'self publish' online (CDBaby/iTunes, for instance.) I suppose YouTube needs to figure out a 'revenue-sharing' model for the unsigned artist--on the other hand, the view counts may be so low as to make it worthless.

 

And BTW... when are YouTube going to offer at least near-DVD picture quality rather than this postage stamp size garbage?

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Originally posted by soundscape:

I'd rather hear Bon Jovi than Nirvana any day of the week, but I'm not sure that's due to inferior music from Nirvana or just personal taste.

I respectfully disagree, so let's call it personal taste.

 

At least in the Detroit market, the '80s saw the split between what we now call classic rock and metal.

 

The stations that went metal never looked back. They still play the occasional older hard rock tune from the '60s or '70s, but most of their material is metal, which has continued to evolve.

 

The stations that went classic rock ran out of new songs. Some stations that tried to stay "hip" and "now" played the kind of drivel that defined the '80s as a crap decade (IMO): Phil Collins and Bon Jovi (and others I just can't seem to recall). Again IMO, these stations were desperate for new material in their format, so they played what perhaps wasn't up to par. (Oh yeah, two bands I like -- Yes and Aerosmith -- released stuff in the '80s that I'm not too excited about, even though for Yes it meant an unusual trip up the charts with their attempt at mainstream with 90125.)

 

For those like myself that didn't care for the direction metal took, or the rap revolution, or the lame '80s "rock", the grunge movement of the '90s was like rock woke up again. Yeah, a new infusion of punk, not so polished, maybe even simplistic in terms of the guitar work (less dependence on the guitar solo and the associated "air guitar") ... but it had some real emotion again and a raw sound that was reminiscent maybe of the '60s, and dare I say it early Beatles. :eek:

 

The '80s was the decade of the producer, of recordings polished so hard they removed any hint of emotion. In the '90s, they rediscovered raw emotion.

 

I'm not talking about the A Ha's and the Flock of Seagulls and the other electronica/pop stuff of the '80s. That stuff has its roots in the likes of Michael Jackson and other pop acts of the '70s. It is what it is (dance/pop?), but it isn't rock. It doesn't have its roots in The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc.

 

Yeah, there was punk in the '80s, too. A great boon for black eye liner and rise of entire new cosmetic lines of today. ;) The "crossover" acts (or sellouts or whatever you want to call them) like The Cure gave punk a face that even the Izod-wearers could safely get into. The biggest contribution was pushing rock away from long, complex prog and back towards shorter, simpler songs. (My college roommate introduced me to the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees through Skinny Puppy, so I feel I have a fair grasp of the genre.)

 

But back to topic ... yeah, the industry will push whatever they can if they feel they can package it and sell it. Yeah, with Britney especially they went off the deep end of pushing the cover over the book. Everybody likes to look at a pretty girl -- look at the dominance of the modeling industry by females -- but at the expense of the music? Well, not a problem after Milli Vanilli, right?

 

The boy groups, the girl groups. They sell; they always have. It's far easier to find 4 or 5 or 6 or whatever pretty faces and have them pretend to sing (or even play instruments) than to find that many good musicians that get along (have the right chemistry) and, oh, happen to be knockouts.

 

The wrinkle now is that the demographics of the music market have shifted. Who still buys media (CDs, etc.)? Old people, not the teens that the industry has been supplying/pushing since the beginning of their time. So we see a revival of older music and older groups. And yes, a lot of kids are actually into this music, too, which they see as superior to the crap that's being peddled to them today.

 

But old people don't have the disposable income and lack of self restraint that the industry needs to profit from. They desperately need their teen market back. And they'll do anything to make sure they buy overpriced CDs (or mp3s or whatever) instead of, well, pirating.

 

Control? Maybe. I think it's more market share. You can't build a #1 hit or top-selling group without the hype. Without the promotion. Without the money. That's how they keep their market share. With a diluted market of 1,000's of indies on the internet, how can you hype?

 

Alright, a lot of this is off the cuff, so I'm sure it's not 100% sound thinking. Food for thought, but have at me. ;)

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Originally posted by soundscape:

Do Gn'R also qualify as an "pansy-ass hair metal band"? (Which, BTW, describes the band image, and is not a criticism of the music per se?)

First, I didn't mention GnR because I don't put them in the same category as the other bands I listed. Also, please don't think I'm anti-metal. To the contrary, two of my all-time favorite bands are Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, and I self-identified as a metal-head for most of my youth (and still to this day). In large part, it's because I love metal that I so disdained those bands I listed (and some others). To me, they took "real" metal and made it packaged and pretty, which it wasn't and never should have been.

 

Second, if you want to deliver a musical defense of Dokken and Skid Row, more power to you.

 

Noah

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Originally posted by NoahZark:

Well, no--but you were talking about the late 80's so I thought I'd mention a band who seemed to have a fair dose of attitude then. (One who to me, at least, is preferable to Nirvana.)

Pretty is one thing. But do you suppose that Nirvana weren't packaged and marketed and branded?

 

Originally posted by NoahZark:

Second, if you want to deliver a musical defense of Dokken and Skid Row, more power to you.

Well, I'd need to have musical reasons to criticize them first.

 

To be fair, I'm not familiar with the repertoire of Dokken nor Skid Row. A brief listen to a couple of tracks on YouTube, their stuff sounds OK, not classic quality. I understand what you're getting at with the style and the way these bands were marketed/positioned as "metal;" some of this material/bands that I'm more familiar with, such as Heart, I'd categorize more as pop.

 

However, it was quite frustrating to me that in the 90's that "uplifting" music suddenly became "cheesy" or whatever.

 

Anyway, in the grand scheme of the music industry, stylistic blips and trends are neither here nor there. I'm sure we've all seen our favourite styles go in and out of fashion, and yes, it's frustrating when they do. What matters is that there is a consistent supply of quality material and a value on quality songwriting and production. There will always be a sea of average and forgettable stuff.

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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

The stations that went classic rock ran out of new songs. Some stations that tried to stay "hip" and "now" played the kind of drivel that defined the '80s as a crap decade (IMO): Phil Collins and Bon Jovi (and others I just can't seem to recall)

I'm not the world's #1 fan of Phil Collins (=MOR/AOR) nor Bon Jovi, but what's wrong with either of them? I mean, specifically wrong in terms of badly created music. But in terms of "attitude," what happened to Gn'R or Metallica?

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

For those like myself that didn't care for the direction metal took, or the rap revolution, or the lame '80s "rock", the grunge movement of the '90s was like rock woke up again. Yeah, a new infusion of punk, not so polished, maybe even simplistic in terms of the guitar work (less dependence on the guitar solo and the associated "air guitar") ... but it had some real emotion again and a raw sound that was reminiscent maybe of the '60s, and dare I say it early Beatles.

What is "real" and "unreal" emotion?

 

The early Beatles had great songs; terrible recordings. Crap recordings aren't raw emotion--whatever that means in any case--they're crap recordings.

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

The '80s was the decade of the producer, of recordings polished so hard they removed any hint of emotion. In the '90s, they rediscovered raw emotion.

I just listened to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and it sounds quite polished to me. It's hardly a 4-track demo!

 

There were plenty of 80's "Hi-NRG" recordings that had so much energy and power they burst right out of the speakers (Taylor Dayne--"Tell it to my Heart," for example); Nirvana sound like they're falling asleep by comparison. The "raw emotion" in Nirvana's stuff seems to me more like depression.

 

Also... it's not the recording that has emotion, it's the listener's reaction.

 

 

However, this doesn't really relate to the basic quality of the songwriting--which leads to...

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

but it had some real emotion again and a raw sound that was reminiscent maybe of the '60s, and dare I say it early Beatles.

The early Beatles had great songs; terrible recordings. Crap recordings aren't raw emotion--whatever that means in any case--they're crap recordings.

 

Today, it seems the general quality of songwriting just isn't as good, regardless of stylistic considerations. Where's the classics--songs that are rock solid and survive being covered in completely different styles?

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

I'm not talking about the A Ha's and the Flock of Seagulls and the other electronica/pop stuff of the '80s. That stuff has its roots in the likes of Michael Jackson and other pop acts of the '70s. It is what it is (dance/pop?), but it isn't rock. It doesn't have its roots in The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc.

That stuff is more pop (synth-pop); I suppose you could call some of it dance too. The Beatles--at least the early stuff--are more pop than rock as far as I'm concerned. Do Led Zeppelin and The Beatles the same "roots" exactly?

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

The biggest contribution was pushing rock away from long, complex prog and back towards shorter, simpler songs.

I think it's certainly fair to say that in the 80's, prog. rock took a nosedive.

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

But back to topic ... yeah, the industry will push whatever they can if they feel they can package it and sell it. Yeah, with Britney especially they went off the deep end of pushing the cover over the book.

With Britney they (Jive Records, who BTW were an independent label at that time) hired Max Martin/Cheiron studios. Why, if the music is not important, would you even bother to hire someone in *SWEDEN*--who was at the time one of the hottest and AFAIK most expensive producers?

 

I'm talking about tracks like "...Baby One More Time." (Tracks like "Toxic" (not a Cheiron production) are more of a throwaway groove.) This is not the "Macarena"!

 

(BTW, what does "went off the deep end of pushing the cover over the book" mean?)

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Everybody likes to look at a pretty girl -- look at the dominance of the modeling industry by females -- but at the expense of the music? Well, not a problem after Milli Vanilli, right?

Milli Vanilli was a project of songwriter/producer/musician Frank Farian. It was actually a disaster that they turned out to be so successful. I think Farian (who also did the most famous tracks of Boney M) does tend to push just too far towards simplicity for me but he can come up with a great hook. Still, he hired some pretty good session musicians for the vocals. (And probably even did some of the backing vocals himself.)

 

*After* Milli Vanilli? You think they were the first to mime? Do you think they increased the chance of it or actually made the record industry more cautious? Who knows--but they just happened to get caught in a big way.

 

Now, is it a good thing that it's easier to market music with a pretty picture on the cover? I don't know, but does it mean because there's a pretty picture on the cover the music automatically sucks? Maybe it makes too much focus on the image and not enough on the music, but then again, on the radio what counts is a song that people can't get out of their head.

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

The boy groups, the girl groups. They sell; they always have. It's far easier to find 4 or 5 or 6 or whatever pretty faces and have them pretend to sing (or even play instruments) than to find that many good musicians that get along (have the right chemistry) and, oh, happen to be knockouts.

As you say, this is nothing new. After all, back in the 60's Carole King wrote "The Locomotion".

 

The hardest part is writing a good song and getting a good recording. Oddly enough, that's not possible without good songwriters and musicians. (And BTW, that's probably a better job than being totally in the spotlight and one that doesn't depend on being super-young and having model looks.) Whether or not they happen to appear on TV is neither here nor there when purely considering the quality of the music. Besides, are the music industry failing to sign bands or something?

 

BTW, if it's harder to put find a group of "good musicians that get along and happen to be knockouts," then it's advantageous for the big record companies because they have the money to do so! They also have the resources to come up with nonsense mythological marketing to surround these bands.

 

If there's one thing that has happened, I think it's possibly that the music industry believes it can solely use marketing. However, this applies both to bands and individual acts; historically, there have been tons of good songs where the "artist" was hardly the "author" of the material.

 

How does it encourage quality music by going around saying that you can have success without good music? I would think that's the best way for a musician to shoot themselves in the foot, effectively announcing that you aren't needed.

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

The wrinkle now is that the demographics of the music market have shifted. Who still buys media (CDs, etc.)? Old people, not the teens that the industry has been supplying/pushing since the beginning of their time. So we see a revival of older music and older groups. And yes, a lot of kids are actually into this music, too, which they see as superior to the crap that's being peddled to them today.

Er, exactly what music is better than what crap?

 

Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Control? Maybe. I think it's more market share. You can't build a #1 hit or top-selling group without the hype. Without the promotion. Without the money. That's how they keep their market share. With a diluted market of 1,000's of indies on the internet, how can you hype?

You can't have a "Thriller" without good songs. Actually you can't have a "...Baby One More Time" either. Both marketing and good songs lead to mega success.

 

Put it all this way: if you're going to say, today's rock stinks, then I might agree. If you're going to ask me why, I don't know. But I bet it's nothing to do with boybands or Britney Spears. They've always been around. And if you don't like their music (and I don't exactly spend my time listening to boybands), that's fine, but please, historically it's often been the best songwriters and session musicians doing the "real work" and I think they deserve more than to call their work cheap product that's peddled to consumers--that would be the "Macarena."

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Piracy is nowhere near as rampant as the RIAA would like for many to believe. If piracy were as rampant as the RIAA describes it is, then most recording companies would have gone out of business back in the middle 1990s, and the iTunes store concept would have never gotten off of the ground.

 

The recording companies are after one thing: greenbacks. The execs from many of the recording companies are green with envy over the fact that the Apple iTunes store distribution model is succeeding where their "traditional" distribution models are failing. The execs also look green and queazy, because several, recent, technological advances have empowered musicians and consumers alike to take more control over the distribution of various music content.

 

Self-publishing and/or producing will do far more to reduce their profits, because the musicians will require less up-front money (so that the musicians can get more royalties on the back end) for studio work, musicians can cut out the "middle-man" by distributing their own music, etc.

 

Here's the irony in all of this: the recording industry has tossed aside many veteran performers in favor of younger, fresh, new acts (which ticks off the performers and their audience); now, their musicians--especially several veteran performers--and their consumers are returning the favor. Payback is a monster!

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Originally posted by dp2:

Piracy is nowhere near as rampant as the RIAA would like for many to believe.

You got the stats to prove 'em wrong?

 

Originally posted by dp2:

the iTunes store concept would have never gotten off of the ground.

There are many factors. Many might be willing to pay, but up until iTunes and similar, there was no option for this online. Besides, iTunes has other benefits--ease of use, consistent quality, reliability, fast downloads, etc.

 

However, just because legal downloads have taken off doesn't mean illegal online distribution is no longer a severe problem, or that it doesn't exceed the number of legal tracks downloaded. It's still early days yet, though.

 

Originally posted by dp2:

The execs from many of the recording companies are green with envy over the fact that the Apple iTunes store distribution model is succeeding where their "traditional" distribution models are failing.

I think it's fair to say that the "traditional" music industry has been dragged kicking and screaming into the online era, but otherwise what's the problem? iTunes has got the online action going. The only problem is that Apple have the upper hand in negotiating terms (e.g., flat-rate pricing vs. tiered pricing.)

 

Originally posted by dp2:

The execs also look green and queazy, because several, recent, technological advances have empowered musicians and consumers alike to take more control over the distribution of various music content.

Online piracy empowers musicians?

 

Originally posted by dp2:

Self-publishing and/or producing will do far more to reduce their profits, because the musicians will require less up-front money (so that the musicians can get more royalties on the back end) for studio work, musicians can cut out the "middle-man" by distributing their own music, etc.

Consumers still need a "filter" to sort through content; whether that filter is the A&R departments of record companies in the future is another matter.

 

As I've said in an above post, I don't think the traditional way of the music industry--centered on getting someone's butt into a music store to buy physical product, and hence the big name acts (brand names of sorts) and big marketing spends and super-expensive music videos--necessarily makes sense anymore, but nor do I think that traditionally the problem is largely preventing a bunch of indie bedroom artists from getting their music out there. Maybe there are some cases, but largely, the likes of CDBaby and MySpace demonstrate that the vast majority of such material is abject garbage.

 

Originally posted by dp2:

Here's the irony in all of this: the recording industry has tossed aside many veteran performers in favor of younger, fresh, new acts (which ticks off the performers and their audience); now, their musicians--especially several veteran performers--and their consumers are returning the favor. Payback is a monster!

Eh? I'm sure there are some cases but then again there are lots of "veteran" performers who put out their umpteenth album...? (Sometimes regardless of whether they still have "it"!)
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Originally posted by soundscape:

However, just because legal downloads have taken off doesn't mean illegal online distribution is no longer a severe problem, or that it doesn't exceed the number of legal tracks downloaded. It's still early days yet, though.

It's actually gotten extremely difficult to download pirated mp3's online. Torrents are one vehicle - but it's a specialized vehicle - bands that actually have quality albums to offer take more of a hit than one-hit-wonders, because the modus operandi of the torrent distributor is large files - i.e. full albums, full discographies, DVD's, etc...

 

Looking for a specific song? It's just easier and less hassle to go pop for a buck at Itunes or Yahoo Music or the new Napster than it is to try and steal it somewhere...

 

I think it's fair to say that the "traditional" music industry has been dragged kicking and screaming into the online era, but otherwise what's the problem? iTunes has got the online action going. The only problem is that Apple have the upper hand in negotiating terms (e.g., flat-rate pricing vs. tiered pricing.)
Indeed, Apple has a strangelhold on the industry itself by forcing them into a flat-rate payoff. They are definitely not happy with that. The other services (Yahoo, et al) are very competitive with their full-album sales as well - you can download a whole CD from Yahoo, completely legal, for far less than you'll pay for it in the store.

 

Online piracy empowers musicians?
No, things like DAW's, inexpensive home studio gear, distribution sites like Artistlaunch, CDBaby, MySpace, etc - that's what empowers musicians. They don't need the record companies to get their music out - they can do it themselves. Granted, they'll never get on MTV without the labels, but a lot of them don't care.

 

Consumers still need a "filter" to sort through content; whether that filter is the A&R departments of record companies in the future is another matter.
Well, there's a certain level of "crapola" content out there that certainly could be vetted. MP3.com found that out the hard way - the "cream" that rose to the top of their charts was basically shit, promoted by people with auto-downloaders instead of a fanbase.

 

As I've said in an above post, I don't think the traditional way of the music industry--centered on getting someone's butt into a music store to buy physical product, and hence the big name acts (brand names of sorts) and big marketing spends and super-expensive music videos--necessarily makes sense anymore, but nor do I think that traditionally the problem is largely preventing a bunch of indie bedroom artists from getting their music out there. Maybe there are some cases, but largely, the likes of CDBaby and MySpace demonstrate that the vast majority of such material is abject garbage.
True enough. If the labels would take advantage of these services, instead of viewing them as the enemy, they could find really great stuff amidst the great heaping piles of garbage, and deliver a better product to their consumers. What better way to save your A&R guys time and money than to have all the indie music (that you used to have to chase around in bars) piled up right in front of you, waiting to be heard? Crap will always be crap, and there will always be plenty of it to sift through in order to find the gems. By centralizing all of it, these services have made it a lot easier for record execs to find good acts - they just fail to take advantage.

 

All in all, the failure of the industry in general to embrace the change that online music distribution (legal and illegal) has wrought has cost them billions. Too bad there weren't a few mavericks that could recognize the opportunity, instead of fearing the unknown...

 

(edit)

 

It occurs to me, however, that a lot of bands would be rather difficult to work with. I know, were I approached by a record exec with contract in hand, I wouldn't sign a work-for-hire deal, I wouldn't allow them to force me to work in another studio (I'd take the advance and build my own, although I'd definitely be willing to work with a producer...) and I wouldn't accept anything less than all the profits from non-music-related sales (T-Shirts et al)

 

So, maybe that's what they're afraid of...

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Originally posted by Griffinator:

It's actually gotten extremely difficult to download pirated mp3's online. Torrents are one vehicle - but it's a specialized vehicle

Yes, I think that's true. The frustrating thing is that I'd rather pay for music, but a lot of material I want is actually out of print and sometimes hard to find or absurdly expensive. A lot of this material was once quite easy to obtain on file sharing services. As I've said above I wish there was some concept of "abandonware" in music where it's just not worth sorting out the legal detail, just turn a blind eye to it.

 

bands that actually have quality albums to offer take more of a hit than one-hit-wonders, because the modus operandi of the torrent distributor is large files - i.e. full albums, full discographies, DVD's, etc...
Quality albums? Many albums are full of filler.

 

Looking for a specific song? It's just easier and less hassle to go pop for a buck at Itunes or Yahoo Music or the new Napster than it is to try and steal it somewhere...
Exactly. But are singles sales up to historic levels these days? (Besides, do iTunes "Pick n' Mix" sales qualify? I mean, if you're picking a song off a 20 year old album, it's not the same as buying a recently released single.)

 

The other services (Yahoo, et al) are very competitive with their full-album sales as well - you can download a whole CD from Yahoo, completely legal, for far less than you'll pay for it in the store.
...but still inferior quality? Or are Yahoo! offering lossless encoding?

 

No, things like DAW's, inexpensive home studio gear, distribution sites like Artistlaunch, CDBaby, MySpace, etc - that's what empowers musicians. They don't need the record companies to get their music out - they can do it themselves. Granted, they'll never get on MTV without the labels, but a lot of them don't care.
These certainly empower musicians--but whether most of them are worth hearing is another matter. (I suspect a lot of them would be more empowered by a piano, lessons, and some theory textbooks, but that's another matter... or maybe is isn't.)

 

True enough. If the labels would take advantage of these services, instead of viewing them as the enemy, they could find really great stuff amidst the great heaping piles of garbage, and deliver a better product to their consumers.
I thought the "traditional" music industry *was* taking advantage of MySpace and the like for promotional purposes?

 

Using them to find new acts might be a problem. The music industry is all about representation, lawyers, etc.

 

Crap will always be crap, and there will always be plenty of it to sift through in order to find the gems. By centralizing all of it, these services have made it a lot easier for record execs to find good acts - they just fail to take advantage.
The thing is, I have *NEVER* heard material on CDBaby or unsigned acts on MySpace which are superior or even comparable to the best commerical content.

 

Of course I can go over to the iTunes Music Store and find the that the top 100 songs of today are largely abject garbage--whether or not they are as bad as the content on these other sites is another matter.

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Originally posted by soundscape:

Originally posted by dp2:

[qb] Piracy is nowhere near as rampant as the RIAA would like for many to believe.

You got the stats to prove 'em wrong?

 

First, I'm software engineer who knows how to build the software used to download the various rich content, so I intimately know what it IS and is not capable of doing. Second, I'm also a systems administrator who works (and has worked) in production environment that serves various rich content. Some of my many responsibilities is to protect all of the systems I oversee, to be able to detect any kind of breach, and to defend against and recover from any kind of attack.

 

Stated another way, I've got stats coming out of all of the pores of my body on this. Nevertheless, I won't stop there. If you're really interested, then I could point you to several references to reports on this which have various stats and analyses for interpreting the stats.

 

For starters, you can google on the various reports put out on this by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Association of Computing and Machinery (ACM), and 2600.

 

Originally posted by dp2:

the iTunes store concept would have never gotten off of the ground.

There are many factors. Many might be willing to pay, but up until iTunes and similar, there was no option for this online. Besides, iTunes has other benefits--ease of use, consistent quality, reliability, fast downloads, etc.

 

However, just because legal downloads have taken off doesn't mean illegal online distribution is no longer a severe problem, or that it doesn't exceed the number of legal tracks downloaded. It's still early days yet, though.

 

An analysis of various network traffic patterns alone would render that claim ridiculous; less than 1% of the network traffic--at least back then--consisted of significant illegal download activity. Most experts in the field already know where the bulk of the illegal distribution comes from; this has never been a secret. If the problem were as serious as the RIAA claimed, then a much larger portion of the Internet traffic would be more heavily saturated. This would max out the bandwidth of many smaller ISPs, and the ISPs in turn would have started implementing more restrictive bandwidth limiting policies.

 

Originally posted by dp2:

The execs from many of the recording companies are green with envy over the fact that the Apple iTunes store distribution model is succeeding where their "traditional" distribution models are failing.

I think it's fair to say that the "traditional" music industry has been dragged kicking and screaming into the online era, but otherwise what's the problem? iTunes has got the online action going. The only problem is that Apple have the upper hand in negotiating terms (e.g., flat-rate pricing vs. tiered pricing.)

 

They weren't dragged; they helped to finance it in part. Their primary objection is that they can't control it the same way they controlled other forms of distribution.

 

Originally posted by dp2:

The execs also look green and queazy, because several, recent, technological advances have empowered musicians and consumers alike to take more control over the distribution of various music content.

Online piracy empowers musicians?

 

Since someone else already gave an excellent answer earlier to this, I'll simply let that answer stand. Yet, I'll state for the record that I don't support piracy in any form--whether it's music or software. Both forms of piracy takes food off of my plate.

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Music quality is inversely proportional to age. The older you get, the more you hate what young people listen to. It happened to our parents, it happened to their parents, and it is happening to us. :P

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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RIAA and its affiliates make money off the online companies in addition to every blank form of media sold.

 

The music industry definitely went into the online age kicking and screaming because their monopolistic control over music distribution has been compromised.

 

Piracy is no worse today than it was when blank cassettes came about. The inferior quality of the music being produced and sold to the public is their real problem.

 

If the industry were to focus on putting out a higher quality of music, people would buy it.

 

However, record companies knew these days were forthcoming. They invested in the 'new technologies'.

 

Big recording studios saw the handwriting on the wall when affordable technology fell into the hands of the masses too.

 

The 'music industry' is really playing a shell game in crying foul over online distribution and piracy. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Originally posted by ProfD:

RIAA and its affiliates make money off the online companies in addition to every blank form of media sold.

Audio media? Yes. Data? I don't think so. Online? Well, now with the YouTube deal, I suppose?

 

Anyway, the important factor is the state of the music industry's finances, and I might add general condition and attractiveness for the best and brightest to work.

 

Unless, of course, the quality of music hasn't actually decreased over the past few years...

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

Piracy is no worse today than it was when blank cassettes came about.

Well, in those days it was harder to get 'what you wanted'. You could copy stuff from friends, etc.--but no use if they didn't have what you wanted.

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

The inferior quality of the music being produced and sold to the public is their real problem.

It is certainly a problem IMO, but how did this situation come about--if the music wasn't so bad in the past?

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

If the industry were to focus on putting out a higher quality of music, people would buy it.

I propose a subscription model, as I outlined above. The music industry's quality, consistency, and productivity is certainly terrible--but I think because it operates as a overblown cottage industry of sorts.

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

However, record companies knew these days were forthcoming. They invested in the 'new technologies'.

Perhaps altogether too slowly.
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When it comes to CDs, how can you really separate Audio from Data when both can be used to store the same series of 0s and 1s? ;)

 

At any rate, the industry positioned itself in such a way that it would still get paid regardless of online distribution and piracy.

 

I believe a subscription service is definitely a future direction.

 

I'm sure they are still trying to figure out how to encode a download so that it cannot be traded. :rolleyes:

 

However, if 50 Cent and Mariah Carey can sell 5 million records per release, the 'old way' still works. I think that is where record companies will focus their resources i.e. sure bets. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Originally posted by ProfD:

When it comes to CDs, how can you really separate Audio from Data when both can be used to store the same series of 0s and 1s? ;)

You'd think so, but there is actually a separate standard for Audio CD-R's than CD-R's. The Audio CD-R recorders will only record on Audio CD-R Audio, and they are of course crippled with SCMS (Serial Copy Management System.) (I'd guess that, by now, many on them record on the data discs anyway.)

 

Unfortunately for that scheme, desktop computers 'took over' the CD-R market.

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

I'm sure they are still trying to figure out how to encode a download so that it cannot be traded. :rolleyes:

"Trusted Computing"? The problem remains with the "analog hole" (you can always record the analog audio) and the fact that downloads generally permit burning to CD. (And who's going to agree otherwise... at least for the foreseeable future.)

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

However, if 50 Cent and Mariah Carey can sell 5 million records per release, the 'old way' still works. I think that is where record companies will focus their resources i.e. sure bets. :cool:

Well, I think this demonstrates the drop in quality. Take Mariah Carey's 1991 "Emotions," that was first-rate, pristine quality, a lot of the tracks were the work of Walter Afanasieff. Of course you may not like the style(s)--it's not my favourite--but I think it's hard to deny the basic quality. On the other hand, her last album, "The Emancipation of Mimi," sounds like an Rn'B nightmare with limited musical quality and even features poor quality samples. (I suppose you could now guess what I think of 50 Cent.)

 

Still, it seems this latter Mariah Carey album throughly outsold the former, but... her 1990 self-titled album sold 17m copies worldwide, her 1993 album ("Music Box") sold 28m copies, while so far "The Emancipation of Mimi" has sold 10m copies..

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

I think that is where record companies will focus their resources i.e. sure bets.

Well, we'll see. It might be the direction of companies that are being cautious. On the other hand, as the market fragments and especially online people expect more customized content, maybe not.
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Sony Philips owns the patent on CD technology. You already know Sony's other line of business. ;)

 

The recording loophole is what I believe will keep the current model in place rather than be superseded by a subscription service.

 

The industry will continue counting on the market with disposable income to hurry out and buy new music in addition to downloading it.

 

I believe that as an artist ages their sales are bound to decline. It is simply a by-product of the audience to whom they appeal.

 

Music 'sells' to 12-25 year olds in general. Older folks buy the music they grew up with i.e. re-issues and/or compilations of the hits from their era.

 

In the meantime, record companies have to become lean and focus their energies on indies with a strong fanbase; using the internet as a form of A&R versus fighting against it.

 

The catch 22 is, unless they are throwing a lot of money at these artists, they may not fall for the pimp game. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Originally posted by ProfD:

Sony Philips owns the patent on CD technology. You already know Sony's other line of business. ;)

Philips once owned PolyGram, too.

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

I believe that as an artist ages their sales are bound to decline. It is simply a by-product of the audience to whom they appeal.

Also, typically, the music often tanks in quality.

 

Anyway, we can't track overall record sales by looking at one artist, although in this case, Mariah's last album seems to be aimed at a 'different' audience to those of the early-mid-90's.

 

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

Music 'sells' to 12-25 year olds in general. Older folks buy the music they grew up with i.e. re-issues and/or compilations of the hits from their era.

Well, that's the traditional way, but why does that have to continue to be the case?

 

Originally posted by ProfD:

In the meantime, record companies have to become lean and focus their energies on indies with a strong fanbase; using the internet as a form of A&R versus fighting against it.

I believe that sort of thing is already happening. However, how does that enable a large quantity of high quality music to fill up people's "MP3" players? Seems more like the unproductive "cottage industry" approach.
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As people age, they do not have the disposal income to run out and buy music, old or new.

 

When every song ever recorded is available to download, folks will be able to fill up those mp3 players with quality tunes.

 

That is merely a function of record companies and music publishers making those tunes available.

 

Hopefully, it is where our belief in the subscription service will manifest itself. Old and new music will be there--win-win situation.

 

However, I do not believe folks over 25 years old especially with children, mortgage payments, student loans, etc., will ever run out and purchase a million copies of a particular record.

 

When "Thriller" did 40 million, it was the perfect alignment within the machine. It also helped that MTV was brand new. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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