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ARSCLIST  May 2014

ARSCLIST May 2014

Subject:

Re: Some Music Industry Problems ... Solved?

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 13 May 2014 08:08:43 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

Hi David:

I'm not sure what problems are "solved." The graph on the first page of this article tells the whole 
story. How does a new or niche artist thrive in a "stream" world? These "streams" are mostly 
robot-controlled or 100% user-preference, which means unless the user is specifically seeking an 
obscure, new or niche artist -- or has the time to fiddle with the robot settings at something like 
Pandora -- they will likely be mostly served very mainstream, likely older-catalog fare. I do think 
streams, the more randomized the better (although randomized is exactly NOT the goal of the robot 
playlist bots), may be good for back catalog materials.

Given the collapse of download sales, I think the record business is about to lose another big chunk 
of profitability. Which means even less funding and infrastructure for young artists. The 
self-releasing thing is probably fine as a publicity tool, but it's rarely profitable for the 
artists, meaning the whole of profitability comes from live performances and other cobbled-together 
revenue streams. Bottom line, the pie is much, much smaller than in the heyday, except for a very 
small group of super-pop-stars.

Almost all "new and exciting" music (as hyped by various would-be tastemaker websites and radio 
networks) that I come across sounds like stale and often lame re-combinations of long-established 
music forms, melodies, song structures and genres. I haven't heard anything ground-breaking in 
years. There are some who go deliberately un-tuneful or super-foulmouth or "I can play louder and 
faster than the old dudes", but that's not particularly interesting or new. It could well be that 
Western music forms have gone as far as they'll go, but I think it has more to do with the decline 
of music education, a lack of curiosity and boldness in the younger generation, and the breakdown of 
a system that helped along bright young artists as they mastered their craft. For instance, 
recording in a bedroom is a closed loop, whereas a young artist experiencing a professional 
recording environment, and daily exposure to those with more and different experiences, opens new 
vistas for creativity and knowledge. Putting a video on YouTube is a skewed "market test" (skewed to 
the demographic of YouTube users, fans of that particular artist or genre, etc), so it's likely to 
provide useless or near-useless feedback. Having a song played regionally or nationally on 
old-school radio, and interacting with old-school DJ's, was a way for artists to figure out their 
wider audience and hone their music for maximum impact (or not). Bottom line, there were many 
aspects of the old industry that were beneficial to artists, and I think the story of the band $14k 
in debt is not typical.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Lewis" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 7:44 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Some Music Industry Problems ... Solved?


> Steve Albini is a battle-scarred veteran of the underground and alternative
> rock industry who runs a studio in Chicago.
> The 1994 article referred to in this piece was a well-circulated and
> important one at the time; here, he revisits some of
> his complaints from that time and offers the interesting perspective that
> things may not be so bad now as they were
> then:
>
> http://qz.com/202194/steve-albini-the-problem-with-music-has-been-solved-by-the-internet/
>
> forwarded by David N. Lewis
>
> 

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