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Music Businesses The Almighty Buck Technology

How Amateurs Destroyed the Professional Music Business 617

Posted by Soulskill
from the music-outlives-business dept.
David Gerard writes "Here in the future, musicians and record companies complain they can't make a living any more. The problem isn't piracy — it's competition. There is too much music and too many musicians, and the amateurs are often good enough for the public. This is healthy for culture, not so much for aesthetics, and terrible for musicians. There are bands who would have trouble playing a police siren in tune, who download a cracked copy of Cubase — you know how much musicians pirate their software, VSTs and sample packs, right? — and tap in every note. There are people like me who do this. A two-hundred-quid laptop with LMMS and I suddenly have better studio equipment than I could have hired for $100/hour thirty years ago. You can do better with a proper engineer in a proper studio, but you don’t have to. And whenever quality competes with convenience, convenience wins every time. You can protest that your music is a finely-prepared steak cooked by sheer genius, and be quite correct in this, and you have trouble paying for your kitchen, your restaurant, your cow."
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How Amateurs Destroyed the Professional Music Business

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  • How is this news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:00PM (#44850985) Homepage Journal
    People prefer a $1 McDouble over a $15 premium burger. The public chose VHS over Betamax. "Good enough" is good enough.
    • Re:How is this news? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:03PM (#44851007)

      Beta took two tapes to hold a movie, while VHS took one, this was significant. The quality difference when hooked up to old TV sets via RF was negligible. If I recall, Beta machines were more expensive as well. At the time, VHS was a better choice for most people.

      • by sjames (1099) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:21PM (#44851177) Homepage

        Likewise, the $100/hour studio's extra quality doesn't help when some moron will crank all the knobs to 11 and compress it to hell to produce the master. Then it will be played through cheap earbuds. Now that DIY recording is becoming practical, the old way isn't looking so good. It can produce better results but typically doesn't even though it always costs more.

        • Re:How is this news? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by icebike (68054) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:42PM (#44851349)

          Likewise, the $100/hour studio's extra quality doesn't help when some moron will crank all the knobs to 11 and compress it to hell to produce the master. Then it will be played through cheap earbuds. Now that DIY recording is becoming practical, the old way isn't looking so good. It can produce better results but typically doesn't even though it always costs more.

          The fact that you can produce mediocre quality in his bedroom using digital equipment does not mean the death of quality.

          The cost of a quality piece of music, simply means that someone with a better understanding of the process, and slightly better tools, and a desire to produce a quality product, will take the time to do so. But that doesn't mean a full recording studio, 47 musicians, 5 bodies in the control room.

          It means one or two dedicated people using slightly (and I do means SLIGHTLY) better computers with more skill will still find enough of a market for their recordings or appearances to pay their bills, and stay in business, long after the crap churning artists move on to day jobs. A few will find success in music, but most will take up farming (or whatever).

          This is an age old story:
          Just look at the crapbands you knew in high school, annoying the neighbors practicing in their garage every Saturday. If you are like most people you don't know a single one of these clowns that even bothers to pick up an instrument today. They were never good enough to bother listening to. Even the vocalists sucked.

          Perhaps Artists will appear on stage with boat load of synthesizers and stacks of keyboards, and (hopefully) not a real instrument anywhere in sight. You won't be able to tell if you are hearing a recording or they are playing any of it live, and you probably won't care. Tangerine Dream made a lot of money in appearances with seldom a real instrument appearing on the stage.

        • by chipschap (1444407) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:57PM (#44851871)

          As a former owner of a small studio back in the 90s I regret the loss of quality as reflected in poor playback conditions (ear buds, bad headphones etc.) and the ubiquity of MP3s (no they do not sound the same, and it's the difference between pretty good and superb). I recorded to 16 channels of analog tape with Dolby S, and it was fantastic quality sound.

          The other side of this, though, is the easy availability of very good digital processing equipment. Now that the standard is 24 bit, there are no longer headroom problems and the noise floors are low. A studio like the one I had would be today largely superfluous, or at the least not very busy. (Good mics still cost, and, leaving aside possible questions of technique, that's where many home recordists seem to fall back in quality.) Music is easy to distribute.

          So it's hardly all a black picture. The marketplace delivers what the market demands. Live with it.

      • Beta took two tapes to hold a movie, while VHS took one, this was significant.

        What? I had a Betamax machine, and rented full-length movies for it all the time. And the movies were each on one cassette, except for extremely long ones (over 3 hours) that came on two tapes for both formats, to avoid compromises in quality from slower playback speed.

        Both Beta and VHS cassettes were available in many lengths. The medium to longer ones in both formats were able to hold a 2- or 3-hour movie, even at the fastest playback speeds.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JBdH (613927)
        Oh, I always thought the reason VHS won, was that VHS allowed porn to be distributed on VHS tapes, whereas Betamax and Video2000 (owned by Philips) didn't allow this. Philips and Sony thought it would bring down their reputation. VHS - not being tied to any one manufacturer in particular - could get away with porn. Video2000 was superior over either VHS and Betamax BTW. Even on ordinary TV sets the difference was very much notable (Video2000 could also do noise free stills for example).
    • by msobkow (48369)

      If "good enough" were the rule for music, local indie bands would have far bigger followings than they do.

      The majority of people don't just want "good enough" music -- they want a "name brand." So they can "look cool" by listening to them.

      • Local indie bands tend to suck. If they don't, they succeed like Tool has.
      • Re:How is this news? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@NospAm.davidgerard.co.uk> on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:27PM (#44851215) Homepage

        Professional recording artists sell fuck-all these days. In the UK: in 1983, Red Guitars got to #8 in the indie charts with 60,000 sales of "Good Technology". In 2013, Rihanna has a mainstream number one album with under 10,000 sales [digitalspy.co.uk].

        The important thing to remember is that "pop music" is not actually all that popular. It's mostly a way to get publicity for your live shows and yourself as a celebrity - buy yourself onto the iTunes top 40. You've never heard of half these people because they are not actually popular.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:37PM (#44851737) Homepage

          These days the ringtone can sell more copies than the original song, which isn't surprising because most songs are pretty much just one two second hook repeated ad-infinitum.

          The money is in licensing, getting songs used in films and adverts.

    • Re:How is this news? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rossz (67331) <ogre@@@geekbiker...net> on Saturday September 14, 2013 @06:33PM (#44852097) Homepage Journal

      Nope. I can't eat the $1 crap from McDonald's. It makes me nauseous. I prefer spending about five bucks at Five Guys or In-N-Out. The $15 premium burger is damn good, but that means a trip into The City (San Francisco), and if I'm going through that much trouble for dinner I would rather eat at my favorite French bistro.

  • Music Industry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:01PM (#44850995)

    They have given us terrible artists for years, maybe they will finally go away...

    • This is my favorite quote on the music industry by Robert Fripp. "It is the opinion of most musicians that the music industry sucks. This is because the music industry sucks."
  • whenever quality competes with convenience, convenience wins every time

    And I shall steal it shamelessly .

    • Re:Good line (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:17PM (#44851133) Homepage
      Shouldn't a quote at least be true to be good? Instances abound where people choose quality over convenience. If they didn't then there would be no option to by a quality burger. It would be "eat McDoubles or starve". Furthermore, the "professional" music business is full of incompetent hacks (as well as truly great musicians) and that is also true in the domain that he describes and implies is of lower quality. By his own admission you can get better quality of sound now with very inexpensive tools than you could get paying $1000.00 per hour in the 1970s. Yet, they made awesome music in the 70s. The difference is that in 1970 you only heard the music of a few, whereas now both high quality and lower quality music can proliferate with relative abandon. All you have to do is watch American Idiot to see that you can take a hack and add all the promotion and expensive tools in the world, and they are still a hack. Likewise, Stevie Ray Vaughn would blow your mind with a practice amp.
      • Re:Good line (Score:5, Insightful)

        by donstenk (74880) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:17PM (#44851593)

        On top of that, the music of the 70's has been filtered through 40 years and many songs were thankfully lost along the way. In forty years we'll know for sure what was notable today - right now i may have missed it in a cacophony of many sounds that do not interest me.

  • Also... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:07PM (#44851055)

    ... one might note that the mainstream industry has very little appeal to people that are intellectual or at least deeply interested in the actual content of their music.

    The mainstream studios that are cracking out 'hit' after 'hit' (aka: highly advertised until people like it) are producing basic melodies in C Major with 'artists' that cannot honestly perform well on stage and likely can't do their music well in a true LIVE setting.

    The mainstream studios are facing REAL ARTISTS and losing. What should they expect? They think they can churn out half-assed simpleton music and not be out-competed by bedroom producers with less than 5 years experience? Please... Mainstream music is awfully easy to make. 2 or 3 basic chords. Very little elaboration or demonstration of musical mastery. Major key. Generalized/Simplified/Non-confrontational/obvious/regurgitated lyrics. Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus. Except you call the 'chorus' a "HOOK" now because it's usually very simple and has a catchy jingle.

    Yeah. Lame.

    Full disclosure: I've been a bedroom producer for 18 years now. I have a successful conscious hip hop crew and produce more complex and better music than most mainstream labels - check my sig. My emcees are more skilled than most of the latest studio-emcess, and they have great stage presence, and we have actual artistic/intelligent lyrics that have value beyond simple entertainment. I've been making music since before it was easy. MS-DOS was the OS when I started.

    • Back before I bought satellite radio for both my vehicles I used to listen to regular radio and it was awful. Every new band they played followed the exact same format. They had one or two singles and then a ballad or much lighter song would get played. Then another single that was not as successful as the first and then they'd disappear.

      • Radio ... that's the thing you listen to in your car, right? When the MP3s on your phone are too varied.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... one might note that the mainstream industry has very little appeal to people that are intellectual or at least deeply interested in the actual content of their music.

      As has been true for the entire history of the music industry absent a few short-lived innovative movements that were quickly and summarily dismembered, regurgitated, and run into the ground by the big labels.

      And what you're saying is really the opposite of what TFA contends, which is that the industry isn't dying because people can churn out better music than the big labels produce, but rather that Joe Blow in his bedroom can now churn out the same mediocre crap that the labels have always spoon fed to us

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Right, also don't forget that music wasn't paying musicians very well even before the latest wave of bedroom mixing was going on. I've been reading about this for at least a decade and it's been a problem for decades before that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:56PM (#44851451)

      Well, in the early days, my band paid off two home mortgages by giving away terrible quality mp3's and asking for 10 bucks for a high quality CD - and we got lots of sales. Yes, we were good live and in our (homebuilt) analog, then digital studio. We had a decent following, and got an offer from Warners. Being engineers, a couple of us read the contract - no frigging way we'd sign that stupid thing. We had product *already* but they wanted to "front" us millions to remake it in their overpriced studios, cut a deal where we got a tiny fraction of any profit after all costs (mostly imaginary) by them were paid and so forth. While she's otherwise "out there" Courtney Love's rant on this is dead on - hollywood accounting isn't worth being on the wrong side of. My own book sold over 50k copies and they haven't paid me a dime yet - I know because it came with code, and my email was in the code. The book co claimed I sold negative numbers some months!

      The internet is the most deflationary creation of all time. Back in the day, if you wanted music, you made your own, or watched one of the rare "artistes" touring your little settler town. Or you lived in one of the bigger cities in a pile of manure on the streets.

      The record company model only lasted as long as artificial scarcity could be created. With the fact that it's now easier to be good at music (better gear, some stuff helps you "cheat"), and that now there's little if any scarcity - they lose, just like buggy whip/carriage makers. Good riddance, they were cheating all the actual workers all along, as Frank Zappa correctly stated.

      Go see your local bands, and buy their CD's out of the back of the car if you like them. Better model, we'll get better music as a result anyway.

      Did you know that if I want to hear say, the Berlin Philharmonic play say from 1950 or so - it's illegal? Not in print - but still in copyright. Making a copy, if I find one, is against the law, but I can't find anyone to pay to make it legal either. So those assholes have stolen our musical heritage for all time. Don't support them.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I was thinking about this. We are now at a point where people who want to create art, not just sell records, are on an equal footing. Art has never been about a constant aesthetic. Just look at the change of music over the past 100 years. What is quality has mostly been driven by technological changes rather than artistic choices. We went from yelling into a horn microphone to record sounds onto wax cylinders, to crooning in electronic mics, to over driving operational amplifiers, to overdubbing using c
  • Deja Moo (Score:5, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:08PM (#44851063)

    You can protest that your music is a finely-prepared steak cooked by sheer genius, and be quite correct in this, and you have trouble paying for your kitchen, your restaurant, your cow."

    Sacred cows make the best hamburgers.

  • by Yergle143 (848772) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:09PM (#44851071)

    You reap what you sow...and what the record companies sowed were generations of unsophisticated listeners that don't know the difference between the popular artists and their next door neighbor and his robot. Musicianship, composition, pshaw. Drum machines and stored samples.
    I don't care at all, there's plenty of vibrant and new alternative music -- that being jazz and classical and what's out in the World. Just look.

    • With classical, it's worse because current performers are directly competing with the big names from the past. Glenn Gould's original recording of the Goldberg variations even went out of copyright in some European countries (and has been re-copyrighted in others).

    • by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:22PM (#44851613) Homepage

      Pretty much this. What's the difference between bad music music and bad food?, you can die from bad food. You don't hear the restaurant industry complain that people can cook at home, do we?

  • Put another way, we have musicians who don't have a clue on how to play a musical instrument at all! Trouble is, they are still famous - for their voice I guess.

  • by John3 (85454) <john3NO@SPAMcornells.com> on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:18PM (#44851143) Homepage Journal
    Professional musicians with record contracts use auto-tune tools all the time, so why can't amateur musicians have access to the same tools? I have no sympathy for the recorded music industry, they have been crooked since day one and reaped plenty of profits off the hard work of underpaid performers and songwriters. Live performance is even changing as performers can have their vocals corrected "on the fly" instead of trying to lip sync as marginally talented musicians did in the past. So the recorded music industry will go the way of the travel agency, which is just economic reality. The record industry was created to get music recorded and out to the people, and they are no longer needed. People will still find music they like, and performers will find ways to make money in local clubs until they build up a larger audience. Quality of the musical performance is not a requirement...look at The Sex Pistols or The Ramones. Interesting that as some industries (retail, banking) become more and more concentrated in the hands of fewer companies (Walmart, JP Morgan Chase) the music business is becoming more eclectic and wide open. Sure, the media companies have consolidated, but any kid with a PC and an internet connection can get his/her music to the world. Seems like progress to me.
    • by CRCulver (715279)

      People will still find music they like, and performers will find ways to make money in local clubs until they build up a larger audience.

      The problem with that model is that local clubs may be fewer and fewer. When many prefer to do all their art consumption in the privacy of their own home with an internet connection (and it's free), it's hard for live venues to compete. It is well-documented how the jazz club scene has been decimated in the last few years, and the same may apply for a significant slice of

  • by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:18PM (#44851145)

    Being unable to make a living at something is the free market's way of telling you to find something else to do. Horse dung sweepers used to be a necessary job in cities before automobiles, now not so much. They either became machine street sweeper operators, or found a new job. If the same happens to mediocre musicians, so be it. The very good ones will still find work.

    I notice that new artists like Lady Gaga have adopted the popular "freemium" business model. She has given away literally billions of views of her music videos, and collects the ad revenue that YouTube pays, but it's free to the audience. Then she sells a limited commodity - seats at live shows - at a premium. I do that too, give away basic content, charge for premium service.

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:25PM (#44851201) Homepage

    Art makes a great hobby - zillions of people play music, write short stories, act in amateur theater groups, whatever. This is wonderful for culture. Frankly I often prefer a heartfelt amateur performance to an overly-polished professional group going through the motions of the same damn thing for the thousandth time.

    My heart does not bleed for professional artists. Most of them need to get a real job to support their hobby, the same as the rest of us...

    • by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:47PM (#44851393)

      Totally agree.

      And add to that a previous article by a professional producer talking about how new bands get financially screwed by the industry and routinely make less than at a 711 on their first few tours...

      What exactly are we supposed to be protecting here??

      Exploitation? Slavery? Cult of personality? The needs of the few super stars to be filthy rich at the expense of the rest?

      Please...

      This is AWESOME and I have personally been wishing for it to happen for over a decade now.

      Let the revolution begin. Only good will come of this.

      Next step: KILL ITUNES!!

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:36PM (#44851297) Homepage

    For most of history, musicians were nobodies, ranking below, say, bartenders. For a brief period in history, from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, being a musician was a Big Deal. That's over. At peak, there were over 8 million bands on Myspace. Some of which didn't suck.

    On top of that, music became automated. Between synthesizers and AutoTune, who needs musicianship? All those years of practice, and your job can be done by a box that costs a few hundred dollars.

  • Utter Nonsense! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unixfan (571579) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:37PM (#44851309) Homepage

    The reason the music industry is in any kind of trouble is because of how the companies that control this industry are not, in effect, effectively growing the industry, mostly because of incompetence, not being artists themselves.

    There are not enough artists in society.

    Artists are the ones who dream the dreams that become tomorrows reality. Art is what lifts up your day and get you out of your troubles, etc.

    When art degrades so does society.

    The companies that run this industry are like vampires making money on artist's creations. (Part of it are our own fault since there is this popular consideration that if you are an artist you should suffer as that gives you more to "draw" from. Also nonsense, but so true to most of us that most makes sure they suffer. As a result they think that cannot properly and effectively handle themselves and that they let these companies control their output.)

    The same companies are not only incompetent in many things, but helping artists grow strong is not on their agenda. Strong artists are a threat to them, rightly so given their criminal level of exchange.

    If you wonder why any art form is suffering don't even think it's because of too much competition as that will never lead to a solution. Now if you don't want a solution then you should promote this idea that there is too much competition.

    BTW, "just good enough", comes from the same companies. They are the ones releasing it.

    As a note, which is known to established musicians, the only way to make money is to tour since the labels keep 90% of the profits.

  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:43PM (#44851353)

    Bravely bold Sir Robin
    Rode forth from Camelot.
    He was not afraid to die,
    Oh brave Sir Robin.
    He was not at all afraid
    To be killed in nasty ways.
    Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin.

    He was not in the least bit scared
    To be mashed into a pulp.
    Or to have his eyes gouged out,
    And his elbows broken.
    To have his kneecaps split
    And his body burned away,
    And his limbs all hacked and mangled
    Brave Sir Robin.

    His head smashed in
    And his heart cut out
    And his liver removed
    And his bowls unplugged
    And his nostrils raped
    And his bottom burnt off
    And his pen--

    "That's... that's enough music for now lads,
    *** there's dirty work afoot*** ???."

    Brave Sir Robin ran away.
    ("No!")
    Bravely ran away away.
    ("I didn't!")
    When danger reared it's ugly head,
    He bravely turned his tail and fled.
    ("no!")
    Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
    ("I didn't!")
    And gallantly he chickened out.

    ****Bravely**** taking ("I never did!") to his feet,
    He beat a very brave retreat.
    ("all lies!")
    Bravest of the braaaave, Sir Robin!
    ("I never!")

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:43PM (#44851357)

    A beautiful and raw original idea kicks the ass of a flawlessly executed banality.

    Who cares if the music industry deflates? The "Rock Stars" are a study in decadence and greed and the "Music Industry" is a study in ruthlessness and greed.

    Cubase, ProTools, Ableton . . .. The kids of today are going to lead us away from "computer music" into very new territory. Just imagine what Mozart could create if he had a decent music workstation!

    The music industry (as it has been) would have us listening to stuff that was fresh forty years ago.

    Sooner or later the kids are going to learn how to market themselves, just like they're mastering the new music creation tools.

    I'll give up production values for originality any day.

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:51PM (#44851417) Homepage

    And whenever quality competes with convenience, convenience wins every time.

    That's true in photography as well and, perhaps to a lesser extent, video. There is a certain quality that is "good enough" for human perception.

    I can listen to MP3s from nearly ten years ago and they sound just fine to me. I can still use the same loops I was using in 2004 and they still work in songs today in the same mixing software.

    The very reason amateurs can catch up to a big studio technologically is that there isn't as much obsolescence in audio. And why variations of the iPhone occupy the top three slots of the most popular cameras on Flickr.

    It will be interesting to see if the video industry can push 4K. 2K and HD look just great projected on the big screen and 4K seems like the first upgrade for the sake of upgrading.

  • by lord_mike (567148) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:52PM (#44851429)

    Garage Band on an iPad (or even an iPhone) is as good as $100/hr trip at the local recording studio. Heck, it's better than what you could get even 20 years ago, back when the only real home recording option was multitrack cassette tape. Technology improved enough in the 90's to allow home computers to do good multitrack recordings, and suddenly everything changed. Nowadays, you can whip up a quick demo on your iPhone without the need of any musical instruments, and it would be just as good as that $500 demo tape you had produced in the 1980's. A 10 year old can do it in no time at all and without any help. It's really amazing!

  • by retroworks (652802) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @04:56PM (#44851457) Homepage Journal
    Except for a recent few decades, musicians have always struggled to make a living for precisely this reason. This "millionaire musician" has been a historical outlier, a quirk of physical media bottlenecks and copyright law. Music was not scaleable until the victrola came along, and then it became a business where 99% of the wealth was in the hands of 1% of the musicians, and now the pendulum is swinging back towards normal.
  • by BlindRobin (768267) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:15PM (#44851575)

    When given a choice, people choose what they like. 'Quality' in what people find entertaining or pleasurable is entirely subjective. The music 'industry' has been based on restricting choice and pushing products on largely captive markets. The world has changed.

  • by SeePage87 (923251) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:29PM (#44851673)

    I haven't posted here in years, partly because I've been too focused on my music career.

    First off (-topic), fuck Cubase, Ableton is waaaay better and just as easily pirated. And while on the subject of piracy, musicians spend more money on music (shows, instruments, hardware, etc) than anyone else, all while actively giving back to the music community by producing art; if they pirate music software, I say good as long as they can't afford it, because it at least allows them to create their art, which is good for everybody. I haven't paid for my copy of Ableton yet, but I definitely plan on it once I can.

    Now regarding primary points of the article. Say what you want, but making beautiful expressive music is extremely difficult in a digital environment. Sure you can correct your mistakes, layer a dozen parts by yourself, and accomplish musical feats with the press of a button that, e.g., concert pianists might spend their whole life practicing to achieve, but none of that has to do with the artistic side of music. What the author really means is that humans no longer have to spend years practicing fine muscle coordination to be able to create complex music, but that doesn't free the musician of the burden of turning sound into art with real expression behind it.

    This is why a lot of electronic music sounds stale and repetitive. If you don't know, there exist "construction kits" which allow me to create, e.g., an above average trap song in about an hour (including mastering). A lot of people do this, but a lot fewer go--or even know to go---to the trouble of creating real expressive content so that the music is not only aurally pleasing and cerebrally interesting, but also emotionally evocative. Evocativeness used to be a given in music, but these days it has to be sought out. That said, all the best producers reliably achieve it, even in the digital space, which can add challenges since expression is fundamentally an analog creature.

    What's true is there's a lot more noise around the signal. This can make it a lot harder for good musicians to succeed, but most of the doom-and-gloom perspective comes from the masses of shitty musicians who've entered the market now that the barriers to entry are lowered: Talent still rises to the top, but all these n00bs who create digitally perfect tracks that sound like music are whining en mass that no one listens to their songs and that it must the system's fault because their tracks sound good. People don't listen to music because it "sounds good", they listen to it because it's art, i.e. it has content and is moving. Everything else is just icing on the cake, but who wants to eat just icing all the time.

    I don't need to be a rock star to be a satisfied musician. That said, if you don't believe there exist rock stars and legends these days, clearly you've never been to a Bassnectar concert or are otherwise not paying attention.

    In case you're interested:

    https://soundcloud.com/mdmtmusic [soundcloud.com]

    https://soundcloud.com/mdmt-development [soundcloud.com]

    https://www.facebook.com/MDMTmusic [facebook.com]

    And if you're in the Denver area, we're playing at Cervantes on Sept 29th.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @05:55PM (#44851855) Journal

    Pros who aren't super-famous *restored* the "music industry" for me, assuming that what you mean is "got me to pay for music". On more occasions than I can count, I have visited coffee shops or the San Gregorio General Store [sangregoriostore.com] and flipped some money into the tip jar.

    Prior to that, I just didn't pay for stuff because radio was good enough, or I had Yahoo music subscription and they ruined it. So yeah, RIAA got ruined by pros who aren't famous, but these guys get money directly from me without going through you and I help to support interesting local music. In other words, so long RIAA. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @06:32PM (#44852083) Homepage Journal
    I'd rather drop $10 in an online tip jar of a band in Japan or Kenya than give it to some parasitical US music studio that will take the lion's share of the money for itself and use it to pursue a piracy jihad against its users if its profits don't make their numbers for the quarter. Sure a lot of those garage bands are complete crap, but at least they're doing it for the love of music. And even if their delivery is imperfect, sometimes their artistic vision more than makes up for their musical talents. So go ahead and kill the "professional music business." I'm sure we'll all have fun dancing on its grave, to music it would never have been able to imagine.
  • by mark_reh (2015546) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @09:27PM (#44852975) Journal

    most musicians traveled and got paid by passing the hat. Then came the record companies that turned musicianship (or at least marketing of music) into a multibillion dollar business, including big bucks for a few megapopular artists that they hyped and pushed on radio stations.

    My question is this- why should musicians (or athletes, etc.) make millions of dollars for making music? Why don't the engineers who designed the iPhone (no, it wasn't Jobs who designed it) make millions? All the fuss over pirating music is because the record companies can't figure out how to keep their cash-cow mooing. They've been screwing most musicians for years. Now they are getting screwed and they don't like it. I find it hard to feel any sympathy for them. And to musicians who have trouble earning a living I say this: don't quit your day job.

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