there certainly is trouble brewing. In my opinion we need record libraries and download technology to allow us to "try before we buy" and to explore more music without having to pay up front for music that often does not live up to the hype.
The good news is that there is a tremendous back catalogue to explore, and that a good redbook / vinyl system can be extremely enjoyable to listen to.
The other good news is that technology may allow more artists to bypass record companies altogether and market direct via the web. So overall I'm not too worried.
My final point is that ultimately the quality of a service industry is linked to the quality of its consumers. If consumers are buying video games at the expense of CDs, or buying loads of britney or gangsta rap then at the end of the day they've only got themselves to blame for the fall of the music industry. Everyday we vote with our wallets.
Most of those statistics are RIAA dervied (read: junk).
A great deal of the decline of CD sales has come from the disappearance of the single. In fact, the amount of singles that AREN'T being produced (compared to past years) almost completely makes up for the "falling" CD sales.RIAA lies
I beg to differ Hueske. The information sources I utilized before posting this thread was totally devoid of any information provided by RIAA. Information sources such as Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Investors Business Daily, The World Economist, etc. probably do not have any vested interests in RIAA so I would suspect less of a bias/slant towards the industry.
I am sure that "newsgathering" by the aforementioned would contain some information from RIAA, but I would not be sure that the RIAA input would be all that they would use.
To the contrary, I noticed a "you made your bed, now lay in it" slant, if any.
Thanks Buscis. The first company that I worked at out of college had 5000 employees on a single campus, and there were many active hobby groups .. pretty much like college with a salary ! Anyway, one of the groups ran a vinyl library (CD's were just starting to take off) and you could rent an LP for about 50 cents a week. I started working for the club cataloguing albums ...we had over 7000 albums !!!! I'm sure the RIAA executives would have tried to close us down had they known that people could rent good condition LPs and record them to cassettes. I recorded hundreds of albums to cassettes. In the execs. short sightedness they would probably villify me for killing record sales.
But here's the thing ... for every album that I ended up liking I probably went out and bought 2 new LPs. Those that I didn't like stayed on the cassette. If I really like an album then I've just got to have the original, and the club got me into many many new artists who I would never have otherwise have heard about, since they don't attract any airplay in the UK (where I was at the time). I must have bought over a hundred albums directly as a result of that library.
Hence my suggestion that lending libraries (or virtual libraries, if we use internet downloading) could be the saviour of the industry, not its demise. I don't condone companies like napster (jumped up techies stealing intellectual property), but at the same time how slow can the RIAA execs be ? Look at apple's new service ... I'm sure it's going to be a screaming success.
Well said Sean. Copying has been around for a long time. It's easier now but pricing is, IMO, the real culprit. I do appreciate the companies that let you listen (at least to portions) before you buy. That's usually what reels me in. Finding great new music makes my day! I'd experiment and buy a lot more if the cd's were $3.99 to $6.99.
But Sean, are you considering the quality and quantity of music then vs. today? I find that many albums from that era contained much higher quality material for the majority of the album. I find that today, its' the exact opposite.
For example, back in that period, musicians had a longevity. Bands were around for 10,15,20 years. It's seems today we have many more "one hit wonders", "overnight sensations" that last literally, overnight.
Sit and listen to Beatles/Abbey Road, Yes/Fragile, Elton John/Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, etc. One song after another, great music. That is what motivated me to buy more from that particular musician. I find today that the albums today consist of a lot of "filler" from musicians that never even make a second album.
I'm I that far off?
Buscis ... you are preaching to the choir! I was born in 1969, so my prime music buying years (assuming we start at age 14) were 1983 onwards. Looking in my collection you'll find tons of 1960s and early 1970s material, maybe 1 or 2 1980s albums, and then a slew of 1990s albums. I actually think that things are better now than they were during the 1980s, but I blame the synthesizer for that, more than the record companies.
Also I'm not sure if there's less talent now, just that record companies (like the rest of US and UK industry) is hooked on the quick buck, and so it's easier to fabricate bands for pimply teenagers than it is to nurture the next Beatles, Queen, Led Zep, Elton John etc etc. Unfortunately they are discovering that pimply teenagers like to get their music for free ... hah !
You might like to try some of Paul Weller's solo albums ... self titled, Wildwood, and Stanley road are all classic albums from the mid 90s, and will stand up to ANY Elton John or Beatles album. But does anyone promote Paul Weller in the US ? I'm certain good stuff is out there, but I'm also certain it will not be nurtured by the big record companies, nor the increasingly corporate radio airwaves.
Buscis, no offense, butI think you're suffering from selective memory. The classic albums that you still listen to had lots of great cuts, but the album with one hit and a lot of dregs was not invented in the 1990s. I suspect your taste, like mine, doesn't run to current pop, so neither of us is in a position to judge the classics of the 90s.
As for Sean's "lending library," in the old days you could make a pretty good copy with a little work. Today, making a perfect copy is a snap. So, while I think the industry is guilty of a lot of things, I do agree that copying is a real problem for them.
Sean, the synthesizer AND disco were the culprits back in the 80s.:-)
And by the way, you have good taste in music. I was born in 59. And I consider myself fortunate to have lived in a great era of music. It might just be my age catching up to me but, I feel that music was a much better value back in those days. As you said, I can pull albums out of my collection from the 60s-70s era and enjoy those albums from start to finish. I find it increasingly difficult to do the same with newer recordings.
I also remember buying new release albums for $3.00-$4.00 then, versus $15.00-$18.00 today. Boy, now I'm REALLY sounding old.
Let's see; then, $4.00/ 12 good songs, now, $18.00/ 3 good songs. And should I buy regular LP or 180 gram LP, redbook CD, HDCD or SACD, DVD-A or SADVD. I don't know. Now I'm so confused, I think I'll just illegally download it from the web.
It's not really that important anyway, they are all the same album I've been listening to for the last 20 years. In fact, if I look hard enough, I might even be able to find it on 8 track.
Much of the difference in "quality" back in the day has to do with the fact that most performers used to have to fill up an LP, not a CD. As such, 30 - 40 minutes of "quality" music was easier to come by than 60 - 80 minutes worth. Nowadays, if an artist put out a CD with 30 minutes worth of music on it, even if it was "top notch", they would get blasted for "cheating the public". Either way, you can't win for losing.... Sean
C'mon, folks. Hell, my Grandmother thought that Big Band, which my Mother liked, was a come-down from Swing. She lamented the drop in music quality that was hidden by the 30-piece band.
Cut the before-was-better crap.
Truth is, there are more diversions. Wanna listen to music? Turn on MTV(remembering that it is the kids who have always funded the music recording industry).
Yes, the industry is selling less. But, also look at the prices. I can get 100 blank Cd's for less than $25.00. This is after the retailer's mark-up. It just doesn't cost that much to mass produce an album. the $15.00 average price we pay for music is just too much, considering the costs. Yes, the artist should get his share--and he does--but that share is pennies compared to all of the middlemen.
The industry should go for market share as there is competition for the entertainment dollar. cut the prices and more sales will exist.
Seandtatlor99 I think your comment 'The other good news is that technology may allow more artists to bypass record companies altogether and market direct via the web' is the shining light at the end of this tunnel. Like other industries the internet will cut out the middle men. One positive effect, I foresee, will be a more diverse and "naturally" artistic product. What I mean by naturally is the absence of outside influences that the artist has to deal with. Two albums come to mind that captures the soul of the artist- Red Headed Stranger- Willie Nelson and Live at Blues Alley- Eva Cassidy. Had the fingerprints of the record companies been on these two albums I suspect that the magic one feels listening to these artist poring out their heart and souls would have been lost. All that said, lets just hope they can still afford good sound engineers.
Lokie, there are a lot of great local recording studios. They support artists who sell cd's on their tours and these engineers seem to be truer to the art than the big name studios. I was lucky enough to spend some time in one of them and the technology and expertise behind them is really something.
Unclejeff, you are absolutely on target. Want to sell more? Then lower the price. Per Sean's earlier comments, it might be tough to raise the quality (and copying is too easy anyway) -- so price is king.
Unclejeff, Isn't it ironic that "the kids" who always funded the music recording industry are downloading their own music off the web? What goes around, comes around.
I have to agree with Unclejeff (and Sean). My parents think the last good non-classical/non-jazz music was made in 1970 (not coincidentally about the time of the breakup of the Beatles). My grandmother thinks nothing made after 1950 is anything but "noise."
Buscis2, I sympathize but... in the 1960s, Ford made Mustangs and priced them at $3000 (1000x an LP?). Since 1970, inflation has averaged almost exactly 5% (5.02% to be exact). A consumer product which was $3 (I wasn't buying albums then but that's the number quoted) in 1970 should be priced, on average, at roughly 5x that price in 2003. When I am in the U.S., I have the choice I did not have in 1970 - I can buy a redbook CD, SACD, HDCD (with, as Sean points out, 1.5x as much music), or perhaps even an LP for $13-$17, the inflation-adjusted price of $3 in 1970.
In the end, I have to agree with Seanandtaylor99, it is the consumer who chooses what he/she wants to buy. It has always been the teenager who chooses what makes a gold record, and conversely, what does not (and any 15yr old male will choose to look at Britney rather than Eva, and most 13yr old girls will see Britney as a bigger success than Eva). And having been a teenager once, I know that half the fun of listening to music at that age is listening to music one's parents despise...
That and 23cts would have gotten you a haircut and a shave way back when...
When I was fifteen I had the choice between The Who, Stones, and Allmand Bros. etc. etc.. There was no fabrication with these bands like there is now. I don't want to come across anti business but I just think there is too much meddling in the artist end product. I think the artist they are choosing to promote have a different skill set (video oriented) than maybe some singer songwriters that are not being promoted. Ozfly I agree with you regarding smaller local studios. I live in Athens, Ga which has a thriving local music business that does a wonderful job of getting local and regional artist in front of the public, live and otherwise.
There will always be the Spice Girls of the World, which I can enjoy as much as anybody. I'm just not going to buy their cd but I will still buy an Allman Brothers CD. I think the internet is going to empower the artist so when that big distribution deal comes along they'll be in more control. And it gives the artist that the big labels are passing on a relatively cheap distribution vehicle.
Let me just add that, if history repeats itself then just take a look at the college scene if you want to see the future of pop music. It is just downright uncool for college kids to buy a cd. They want the bootleg live in Aspen String Cheese Incident. And so do I. It seems to me that SACD was made for live music. I'd buy those tomorrow if they would put out some good live stuff.
Lokie: You, too, are suffering from selective memory loss. No fabricated bands in the 60s? Remember the Monkees? And what about Motown--talk about the suits meddling with the art, Motownpractically invented the form.
The way you people chatter on, you'd think the last people who had any decent new music to listen to were Adam and Eve. (Or maybe Abel and Cain, since the industry always catered to the youth market!)
T bone, I have to agree with you fully from a numbers aspect. My problem is with quality. If there was some form of relativity between price and quality, I would not have as much of a problem.
Example; (using your terms) In 1970, a Porsche 911 was approx. $6000.00. In 2003, a Porsche 911 is approx. $70,000. But, you are still buying the quality of a Porsche.
It would be very hard for someone to convince me that CDs cost as much to produce as an LP. If you consider just the packaging that was provided with an LP of that era, (album covers, sleeves, artwork, lyrics, posters, etc.) versus what is being provided today in the average CD. Let's not even discuss the quality of the musical content.
Several weeks ago I purchased several XRCDs. Beautiful packaging, excellent sound, overall a very nice quality product. This indicates to me that the music industry is completely capable of producing such a product. The cost? $30.00 each.
Personally, I have a hard time understanding how a product of this quality can justify it's cost. Does it really cost that much more to produce an XRCD with all of it's packaging versus the average redbook CD? And the real clincher is that the XRCDs that I purchased were all recordings from the 50s-60s-70s era. Is this indicative of the fact that maybe even the record companies feel that much of the newer musical material is not worthy of "special treatment"?
Let us also consider the newer formats such as SACD or DVD-A. How often do you see new musical material being used for these newer formats? Why wouldn't the industry try to promote their new formats using new musical material. I mean how many times are you going to purchase "rereleases" of Pink Floyd's Dark side of the moon?
With all do respect T bone, I really have a hard time understanding this.
You'all gotta start looking at the politics involved with all this nonsense. Politics, as in: 1) Congress allowing the radio waves to be dominated by two corporations, thus controlling what music we are subjected to, 2) Recording giants force feeding the masses the dirty joke...rap, grunge, hip hop, nearly explicit sex music videos, violence and the many anti-social fabric messages, and 3) the anti-piracy brigade.
Spank a man's monkey and he'll spoog once. Teach a man to spank his own monkey and he'll spoog a lifetime. Think about it. The music (actually the entire entertainment monopoly) industry has been quite busy catering to our baser instincts. The problem is: instead of buying the material to spank the monkey to, the same industry taught us how to share our materials. Pass the Playboy please.
Geez, with all the dynamic range available on CD's I find it interesting the most compressed music ever made is on that medium. Note that whenever there are gains made in digital storage that the extra space is usually filled with high calorie, high fat, low nutritional fluff. Apologies extended to the small, quality driven artists and engineers.
Connect the dots if you care to do the research. Microsoft, the RIAA amd hardware manufacturers (our beloved high end gear vendors too, not just computers) are joining forces to stop pirarcy. Soon, if the sun, the moon and the stars don't line up inside your playback equipment the music won't be able to come out. And, they don't care one whit about quality of playback.
Lest some bonehead (like Pbb) chime in and attempt to place the blame on the good 'ol US of A, let all know that this is being accomplished by international banking efforts. There are huge dollars, not to mention "control" possiblities at stake with degrading the worlds values. Sure, the control freaks are having problems keeping the masses in line, but understand, they have deep pockets and the will/ability to pull this off. It is our responsibility to correct the problem. My effort is simple. I will forever be vinyl based. I will only pay for music which is at worst, value neutral. I refuse to listen to radio except publicly owned, local stations which are few.
Here's a test for the doubters: find someone in your email address book that has an @MSN address. Record your own voice or your dog barking, convert it to an MP3 file and send it as an attachment to that person. MSN will block the recipient from receiving the file. Maybe that doesn't bother you in the least since you may feel that piracy is wrong. But consider the freedom you have lost in this process.
I'm confident that most readers here will believe I have gone off the deep end and am a member of some radical political splinter group. The problem with being so quick with waving off my statements is that they are covered on a regular basis in the business sections of my two local newspapers (One is owned by Gannett-McPaper, and the other is a Northwest region owned paper) as well as covered in the internet techie news and written about by main stream authors available in hardback at your local library.
As you are reading this your computer is keeping track (and reporting to M$) what you listen to or watch on your Windows Media Player. Web sites are placing spiders to take and report your activities to whomever places the spider. Doubt it? Download Lavasoft Ad-aware and run the program to find out how many snoops live inside your computer. The innocent answer to why is that advertisers can market directly to you based on your habits-without personally identifying you-ha ha. The real reason is that once the industry has bought the legislation they desire, you will be stomped with both bootheels. It won't matter if you have an MP3 of Mothers Day. Your computer will be corrupted or you will be sued. It doesn't matter if you are innocent. You'll still have to fix your computer or defend yourself in court.
I urge you to create a music folder in your computer. Download non-copyrighted materials or make your own. Label these files with names of real artists and real songs that are copyrighted. Play them on your Windows Media Player. Back up this "evidence" to recordable disks. If enough of us do this and we are damaged in the future, some lawyer will sue on our behalf and maybe we can redistribute some of this ill-gotten wealth back to us.
Sorry for the rant. Complaining about the lack of listenable music on one CD is but the tip of the iceberg. Please read a little more than the headlines and get informed.
Wow, I cant' wait to sit down to dinner tonight and listen to an MP3 file and enjoy a nice bowl of soylent green
Bomarc .. I envisage lending libraries where the CDs lent are "special" non-production CDs, either with clever copy protection, or more likely the age-old copy protection of just cutting off the last 30 seconds of each song. That way you are forced to get the real thing to get the whole experience. I'm sure it could be made to work.
Lugnut ... I'm sure you're on the right track, which is why I am loading up on used LPs and CDs at the moment.
Buscis ... great thread. And guess what, I haven't managed to have this thread closed or shutdown yet :-)
Seandtaylor, In regards to closing this thread...Sit by your keyboard, I have this sinking feeling that this thread hasn't even started yet.
Also, opinions such as everyone has provided, are what help to make threads like this "great". Feel free to jump in as this thread progresses. I feel your opinions are very much respected by many of us. Ed.
Just to be clear, I like much of the music today just as I like much of the music of yesterday. Part of the fun of the hobby is to find new music -- whether it's another great 50's jazz recording or Audio Slave. My comment on quality was referring to Sean's earlier astute observation that, for any artist of any time, it is more difficult to record 70 great minutes on cd than 40 great minutes on vinyl.
Regarding the relative cost of the product over time, that's not as easy as it seems. On the one hand, the $3 album in the 70's had at least a buck in pure product cost behind it (pressing and packaging vinyl is expensive). The cd costs less than a dime to physically produce (from all I've read). Considering that alone, the cd should cost about $10 today. But, nobody can just consider that alone. There are too many variables, such as recovering video costs, to draw an easy conclusion. What I have read is that the markups on cd's are very, very large. My personal belief is that illegal (and immoral IMO) widespread copying of intellectual property would be diminished if cd's cost less -- much less. Further, I believe that the increase in sales would compensate for the decrease in margins. If I'm wrong, then we're stuck where we are. If I'm right, this will all take care of itself as more companies start experimenting with price cuts.
Whatever happens, there will be great local studios who will record great artists. These artists might make more money if they could sell to those who illegally copy. But these artists will make some money from those who buy the cd's at their concerts. Support your favorite artists by watching them live and buying their music.
At the end of the day, I don't care if any of the major labels survive or not. That's up to them -- they can improve the pricing and they can improve the format. That should allow them to make it. If they don't, music might be more difficult to find in a retail store but it will be available via the net. Good and great musical artists will always survive and produce new wonders for us.
Lugnut, you are correct that two wrongs don't make a right. If the music industry powerhouses do find a way to block pirating through heavy handed approaches, that hurts us all. Plus, that reduces whatever limited pressures exist to lower prices. It does help to write your local senator or representative. I would urge all to do so.
I think apple is on to something with its ITunes site (http://www.apple.com/itunes/) . They sold one million songs at $.99/ea in their first week of operation. A buck a song seems reasonable to me. If the technology gets even more hifi I would spend a fortune at a site like this.
Ozfly, I ditto the first 2 paragraphs of your last statement. And I mean, to the letter. I really don't want you to all think that I feel the only good music was from years ago. That's just not the case.
As a matter of fact, if I was to look back over the last 100 music purchases that I have made, I would bet that at least 80 were releases post 1995. And probably 25 or 30 were releases from the last 2 year period. There is some wonderful and innovative new music and musicians out there.
My tastes are diverse. I listen to a lot of different styles of music. So that adds to the joy of making new music purchases and experiencing new musical presentations.
So why do I always feel so "victimized".
Example; My very last music purchase was a 2003 release, Peter Cincotti on CD. Absolutely phenomenal musician. Pristine recording with incredible sonics. Overall fantastic performance.... Borders, $17.99. Come on... Give me a break. Is that cost because of the extensive amount of promotion provided for this talented new musician?
Have any of you even heard of Peter Cincotti?
Sean: On second thought (with your latest wrinkles), I really like your lending library idea. The Apple iTunes store offers free, 30-second previews. As another current thread notes, however, 30 secs. isn't enough to really hear the song. I wonder if, as bandwidth increases, we'll get closer to your "all but the last 30 seconds" approach--the advantage of which is that, unlike software copy protection, it can't be cracked. (OTOH, I can imagine a lot of teenyboppers who decide they'd rather miss out on the last 30 secs. than pay a buck for the whole thing, so maybe it won't fly after all.)
the downturn in the music industry is an effect caused by a cultural change. the last three decades of youth have been conditioned into believing that music is no different than any disposable commodity you can name. classic rock is nothing but fodder for tv commercials...classical music is all generic backround noise that deseves its spot on the bargain rack at walmart next to the candybars... new music that has any link to r&b or gospel is corny..and c&w is a fashion show of funny talking,flag waiving yahoos with hats that don't ever come off ,even in the wind. there is more talk radio today than ever and all their commercials tell you you're an idiot for listening to a music station....this isn't about bad business(the music guys have been through that many times)...this is about music being a more fringe entertainment now and in the future."its the end of the world as we know it,and i feel fine".
I'm with T_bone and jrd...
Brittney? Ace of Base? They're all just small-duration events in the whole industry like a flash from the camera that for some short period of time leaves a trace in the eyes. Pop always needs to be re-charged to flash again but how? It's already got nowhere to go and the further the less interesting it becomes even for teenagers.
For me the music ends in the end-80's I'd say as probably the one younger than T_bone where still there were lots of new-era electronic and progressive pearls still produced and in the 90's all these folks Brian Eno, David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Jethro Tull, Yes become older and older...
Just visualize the MTV all throughout its existance to partially find answers that every day added today subtracts more and more music from recording industry that were realy tended to sell it.
Count me out! I care less and use for myself what's already been done so-far. I even did not rich 90's in my collection surfing through the rare and original albums of my favourite artists.
Grandma's and Grandpops are probably right that it was all begun after '60-s i.e. I mean Beatles(truly hate them for that!).
One can argue that the economics of the music industry drives what we are allowed to hear. To a certain extent it would be correct that in Europe during feudalism the wealthy aristocrats controlled through patronage what composers were able to write, and today the tyranny continues via the free market. But the truth is that real artists compromise little. When Baron von Kayserling, the Russian ambassador to the Dresden court, commissioned Bach to write a harpsicord piece that might help him with his insomnia, Bach did not have to create anything nearly so profound as the Goldberg Variations (named after the Baron's harpsicordist). But he had a certain standard of excellence and he wasn't going to compromise.
Likewise, when a superb musician such as Wes Montgomery or Nat King Cole abandoned the small-group, strictly-jazz format to make pop-oriented, little-room-for-improvisation records, you still had world class artists making good music. The formats may have limited their range of expression, but these recordings left no doubt that Montgomery and Cole brought their prodigious talent and big-hearted interpretive style to the studio. The audience got their money's worth.
Where are the artists of this caliber today? How often does even a Nora Jones come along? For that matter, why did the evolution of jazz stop with Coltrane?
It is impossible to have any discussion of this matter without considering how pop culture has changed since the Motown-Classic Rock days. Leonard Pitt, Jr. describes the culture of his teen-age sons as "materialistic, misogynistic, pornagraphic and violent. A culture that proclaims itself authentically black when the truth is, it could not be more anti-black if it were made by the Ku Klux Klan." In its 22 year history, rap has yet to produce a memorable song. The format does not honor musicianship with the modest exception of the syncopated percussive effects supplied by the DJ. This genre is like reality TV: all hype, hustle, but no heart. There is more taking place of musical value in the obscure world of modern piano rag composition than in the rap and grunge cultures combined.
I, like many others who have contributed to this thread, am always on the lookout for new artists. While focusing on jazz and classical, my journey also has taken me to the music of Senegal, Brazil, Cuba, Cape Verde Islands and so on. I might not always understand the lyrics, but it's soulful, musical and doesn't get boring after repeated listenings.
The point I have been leading to is that despite the no-talent invasion of popular culture, even in this country there is opportunity for new artists. Indeed, because of the sorry state of affairs we are hungry for new artists.
Wow. I like it here. There is some great stuff. Maybe I will come back and read it again when i am more sober. Music is very iconoclastic. I really like my Rock, yet as I sit here I am listening to Classical Waltz Cd that I have not palyer in years. I put it on even before arriving at this page. Right now it is the Blue Danube--an old stand-by, but oh, so perfect.
Here's a question: Lets take a great rock recording of the 70's. How about the first Crosby Stills and Nash--the one with Suite Judy Blue Eyes. Excellent. Now what are the production costs? To re-re-re-re-lease it (okay, yes it was 'remixed') for Cd, there are no promotion costs, probably no artist costs other that the pennies that go to the original musicians/producer Well, I suspect you get my point.
It is still an expensive Cd. A damn good Cd and one I obviously was willing to pay good money for. The simple matter is that the so-called victumized big-time music label companies are not exactly going broke. An obvious example is Motown. They, for the most part, don't pay the artists of the 70's anything for a re-re-re-re-lease.
So, am I worried or despondant? hell, no. there are lots of basement, high quality recording studios out there and many really neat artists are just going to vanity labels. Skrew the big guys. the only problem, well one of many problems, is that so few radio stations still play the fantastic underground stuff late at night like some did in the 60's/70's. How many of us discovered The Moody Blues on the so-called album FM stations of so long ago?
That's why live music is so profound; it can defy the recording industry by definition.