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JIMV
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May's 'As we see it'

First my rant...I cannot get the May issue part of this forum to work...

So, I will post my comment here. I disagree with SG's contention that the decline in Rock & Roll had anything to do with the rise of the CD. You confuse the media with the message...Rock, and with it record sales, are crashing because new media simply is too easy to copy and those copying do not seem to be aware or care the quality of much of what they copy is simply put, crap.

Yes, there has been a vinyl renaissance of sorts but the lack of quality in the music remains and the vinyl sales are still tiny.

I have always believed 90% of all music sold was crap in every age. Over time what has merit survives and the dross is forgotten.

JIMV
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Elaboration

I was pressed for time with my first post...what I am trying to say is that the problem with today's music is not with the media (digital) but with two other issues. The first is eternal...99% of the music produced in any age is crap and is forgotten almost as fast as it is released. Rock flourished because it was actually new. After 60 years, what was new is very, very old and about every variable of the idea has been tried. There is little original left. What we have is simply new music in the existing genre, and, as I noted 99% of that is crap. The second part is more important. Making money with music outside of a live concert is trapped in a dead idea, the payment per copy. You want to make money in the industry, you need to sell a lot of copies of the performance. The problem is, copies are free in the real world. Folk need to do something different, invent some new way to make money from music for pay by copy is as dead as the 8 track.

I have no idea what the new business model will be, but trying and scheming to make folk pay for their copies is simply a road to failure. The technology has killed it. It is like doing a concert in a church with all the windows open and then trying to charge passers by for the music they hear through those windows.

tmsorosk
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Re JIMV's response to Mays A.W.S.I.

I guess I'm not living in the real world , I buy all my music on disc , not one down load , and will continue to do so as long as there is physical media . I always felt this would help support musicians and the people they work for . I guess thats a dead idea , but until someone comes up with a better idea . I think us , the consumer can take responsibility for that whole mess .
As far as Jim's estimate of 99% of all music being crap , I beg to differ , I'd say 95% of new music is not good or at least not to my liking and most of the remaining 5% is over compressed . Again the consumers fault for buying and not returning poorly made music . What would the industry do if 1 in 5 CD's , records were returned because of poor quality . Truth of it is Joe consumer doesn't seem to no the difference and doesn't care , only a few fussy old audiophiles . Regards Tim Soroski

JIMV
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The problem is not with...

The problem is not with folk who buy CD's but with the folk who do not but get the music anyway...If everyone was buying CD's, there would be no problem. I also buy CD's of everything I like except Hi-Rez and that I buy online.

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JIMV . . .

you are correct sir. I often see kids in my psychology practice and they routinely steal music. I never see kids in the music stores. That is a HUGE part of the problem.

Trey

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Let's not confuse

digital ruining the music business with "digital mortally wounding recorded musics creative mojo", one of the most ridiculous assertions I've heard from the same old crusty audiophile farts who claim 90% of all music is crap!

RG

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I disagree with Steve

I enjoy and respect Steve G's writing, but think his 'As We see It' piece is muddled.

Steve says he's writing about how the record industry was hurt by digital, but the weight of the piece is not about the business, it's about the quality of the music being made. By my reading, he never quite connects the dots - if you're gonna claim digital had some bad effect, how did it happen? Is it what happens in the studio? Is it iPods? Is it both? Neither?

I think what's really going on - and that he couldn't quite bring himself to write - is that Steve sees a lack of greatness in today's music: no Beatles, Dylan, Monk or Miles.

A better explanation for that might be what the late Stephen Jay Gould talked about in 'Full House,' his idea of 'the spread of excellence,' otherwise known as "How come there are no .400 hitters in baseball today?"

We don't have ground-breaking artists today because *everybody* who gets as far as a record and touring is competent. Part of the reason Charlie Parker was so shocking was, aside from his great innovations, he simply played much better than many musicians. He was in a different league. That's harder to do these days.

Also, most of the technical innovations in jazz and rock have already happened. The genres are pretty much stable, just like the form of novels is now pretty well understood. So what's left for modern artists is finding their own voices. (You can still hear innovative music, don't get me wrong - Stephen M. has tapped a strain of it over the last year. But you have to go more and more to extremes to find it, and it gets exhausted quicker.)

s.

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I agree with everyone here. A

I agree with everyone here. A very muddled and not well researched piece. First he spends a great deal of time ripping everything beyond the 70's (hello, are we forgetting all the utter garbage that decade churned out) then later says, actually it's not so bad after all.

He does pick a key moment, but totally misses the point of Michael Jackson's Thriller album. That is the moment,though it was building for more than a decade, that music production became focused almost entirely one thing forever after: Hit Singles. And along with it you can add music videos and the expectation (real or manufactured) of blockbuster concert production. Singles were always important- no argument there. But into the 70's and for sure by the 80's they became ALL that mattered. Singles are like fast food. You make one thing, (though maybe inferior or hollow), and push it a hundred million times out the door and you have yourself a money machine. It's like when they decided music should be the equivalent to Coke of Pepsi. Sugar water with no inherent value and worth billions if marketed correctly.

There are so many great bands in every decade it's laughable to even pretend it's not the case. My problem is NEVER not finding new stuff to hear, it's that my time and money run out first. On the other hand, society as a whole is not like we used to be. We are more diffuse than ever. Whole families would watch the same few shows each week on TV. You had a few shows and young, old and teen all watched it. Those days, for better or worse are over, starting in the 70's but culminating with cable TV in the 80s.

For a while even MTV was more a uniter than divider. I never even liked Michael Jackson, but I clearly recall the afternoon MTV played the 20 minute version of his song Thriller after school. Not only was I blown away at the time, I recall immediately getting a call from my best friend about how cool he thought it was. Everyone talked about it the next day at school. It was a shared experience that obviously helped push the album off the charts (I still wouldn't buy the album though, but my sister did). Even that sort of moment wouldn't happen now.

So record companies gouged consumers for years with inflated CD prices, pushed albums that focused on 2-3 hit singles, and expected bands to be blockbusters out of the gate with no growth curve before or after. By the time the Beatles had their first big albums they had played in European bars and clubs nearly 10,000 hours! Bands today are lucky to ever play that much in their entire careers! After three or four years if things drop off, a band of singer today gets dropped hard.

The music biz have been looking for ways to "save" an absolutely corrupt and sub-par system for the last 10 years, all the while crying foul that they can't keep raking in the money they don't deserve. Boohoo guys! They deserve to die the death they made for themselves, but sadly musicians and music lovers do not deserve to have to be a part of it.

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AWSI - what a waste of a printed page

"Digital audio mortally wounded recorded music's creative mojo in 1982, and the record industry never fully recovered"?! That's a heavy and rather unfounded assertion.

Digital's negative effects, and digital destroying what's left of the record business?! I second the other poster - this is a stretch.

As soon as comments akin to "modern music is rubbish, only the old stuff was any good" appear, this just sounds like me talking to my daughter, or my dad talking to me, or my grandad talking to my dad. Nothing new there.

Audiophiles seem hell-bent on insisting that everyone else listen to music their way - i.e. listening room, chair in the middle, no other distractions etc. While that's my preferred way, it doesn't happen much in my house.

But there's many an evening I get home from work, and my wife, daughter (9) and son (3) are bopping around to something playing on my so-called audiophile system at a decent volume! They're listening, they're dancing, they're enjoying, and it puts a big smile on my face. And it's all with music we've bought and paid for, so the notion that "if recorded music isn't worth your undivided attention, it's not worth paying for" doesn't hold water for me.

My job ensures a long-ish commute and plenty of travel, so much of my listening gets done in the car or my portable player (an old iPod nano). It's my way of listening. Maybe it's not your way, but it's not going to "take" anything to get me listening - I'm already there.

Cheers,

Tim

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Yada Yada Yada

What a cry baby and worse, what a small minded person Mr. Guttenberg comes off as after one reads this winy essay.

For better or worse music always flows and this flow contains high points and low points. Popular music, for after all that is the music that Guttenberg addresses in this essay, has periods of great creativity along with periods of, for lack of better words, pure crap. So what if 2011 is a year of crap, no big deal since things will bounce back at some point.

After the Beatles fantastic run in the late 1960s no one thought that anyone could possibly top their success but then along came Michael Jackson and he just blew the lid off their sales records. Will Jackson ever be topped? I don't know nor do I care since many of rules of the game have changed since Jackson's Thriller was released. And remember that between The Bealtes and Jackson the rules of the game really had not changed. Once someone with a similar degree of talent to Jackson comes along who understands the new rules a new mega-star will be born and people will wonder "can this ever be topped?"

My advice to SG - take the knots out your panties and sit back and wait. And while you're waiting try something a little different like deciding for yourself what the next big thing is or you could just be a sheep and wait for American Idol to tell you who the next big thing is.

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High CD prices have been the culprit for 30 years...
dbowker wrote:

The music biz have been looking for ways to "save" an absolutely corrupt and sub-par system for the last 10 years, all the while crying foul that they can't keep raking in the money they don't deserve. Boohoo guys! They deserve to die the death they made for themselves, but sadly musicians and music lovers do not deserve to have to be a part of it.

Exactly. In the Eighties, you could buy a lot of lps for decent prices (about 10 bucks), and in the chain stores of the Nineties, all cd's were $18 on average. Even today, buying everything you want that's out any given week isn't a reasonable proposition for most. There are some new lps at $15, and given inflation over the past 30+ years, something was not right looking back 20-plus years.

Clearly something needed to change years ago, and the only real solution is to steal or continue to support their stealing. The bottom line is people have been buying steadily less, and with single music file purchasing behavior online, they will die out slowly. The product of greed again. And Radiohead just sent me their 2 newest songs for nothing. Shake your head...

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High prices and poor sound

High prices and poor sound quality are huge contributors to poor sales. Neither of those are intrinsic to digital music recording or CD's.

Digital recording may in fact be the death knell of the record industry itself, and may limit the number of super-rich musicians as well, but it's obviously a boon to most musicians, in terms both of ease of recording and ease of distribution and wide access of the end-product to the end-user.

Glotz
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Agreed... to a point.

After hearing the first Sony cd player over 25 years ago, there wasn't one cd that was even sorta-listenable, despite the discs looking utterly cool. Yeah, even at 14 years old and being a wanna-be audiophile for less than a few months, I could easily tell what was wrong with CDP-101 vs. my friend's humble Thorens lp deck. His little brother wanted it for his 14th birthday in Feb. 1983, and after he put it in the system, all of us newbs thought the sound was completely 'off'. It became a gimmick to show other friends this new technology, but none of us ever said "Yeah, put a cd on!"

No question I agree with most readers that the midrange was sooo glassy and bright- it was intolerable (on most new cd recordings). There were many 'What the fuck?!' moments listening to that shitty player. The only saving grace was a lack of lp surface noise and the bass, which did impress any and everyone that heard it. (One thing I couldn't understand was why they didn't have a top loader back then so one could actually see the disc spinning or the laser hitting the disc. I bought the Rega Planet years ago subconsciously because of that fact...)

But, whatever, digital audio massively sucked before 24-bit digital and jitter suppression techniques (and the elimination of digital pre-ringing artifacts) enabled great digital recordings. I know that's not the point for recordists, but recordings made from early ProTools and the like truly sucked anyway. It still takes people with good ears to make great home or amateur recordings, while admittedly there is much less loss of fidelity while mixing, etc. Also, for most bands that get signed today, most do not get a fraction of the support from the labels as they used to years ago, prior to social media exploding, and again, de-valuing music as a result. (A friend's band just got signed to a minor label a year back, and it really meant nothing other than promotion- which was nice, as their single was played on 'The World Cafe' more than a few times- but cash? Forget it.) There may be more exposure and outlets for bands than ever before, but the value of that exposure, even with a contract, means less than ever. Sad but true.

It's ironic that as the medium continues to gain quality, accessibility & ubiquity, the industry is dying out over very freedom of operation and its flexibility. I firmly believe the powers-that-be could have policed the internet infinitely better, way earlier, and it would have made the prospect of stealing music morally and legally unsound. (The site's not up- the government took it down.) Corporations propelled all of the public's mistrust through selfish pricing and many other tactics that prevented loyalty throughout the last 25 years. I also blame computer audio for single-handedly destroying consumers' expectations for evolving fidelity over the years. Who made the ability for us 20 years ago to burn cds so easily and so cheaply? USB wrecked hifi for the average consumer, because lossy music is fine as long its convenient. We're all keenly aware that data compression techniques had far reaching consequences in the name of smaller file sizes. We as audiophiles can make it not suck, but whatever... pointless from an mass-market consumer standpoint, which really drives industry and progress (outside of our audiophile realm).

I have been a struggling audiophile for all of digital's 25 years, and can't imagine how much more music I could've bought if cd's were $7.50, instead of $17.50.

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A mixture of issues

There seems to be several different, albeit slightly related, issues running through this discussion:

1) Poor sound quality of digital audio, whether it's the brittle sound of early digital or lossy compression of today.

2) Poor artist quality of all post **** (fill in the year of your choice: hint the year you turned 18) music.

3) Music piracy issues, especially digital audio.

Let's go these issues one by one and see how much to blame the music business is for each issue and what the music business can do to help resolve each issue.

1) The music business is the main culprit here and can go a long way into helping to improve the sound of most recordings by offering full fidelity lossless downloads PRICED the same as lossy downloads. And even more so by offering high resolution downloads for a fair instead of an outrageous price.

2) See my prior post in this thread (post #9)

3) This is the most complicated of these three issues but I would still place the lion's share of the blame on the music business for failing to adequately protect their product (CDs are and always have been to damn easy to copy) and for failing to respond to changing market conditions. What I mean by last statement is that there are still companies making money from and for the music business. Apple's iTunes store continues to thrive by sell product for the music industry as do the various file sharing services such as Rapidshare and Hotfile. In both cases these companies are doing something that the music business could have done themselves if they weren't so damn brain dead. On a similar note, any of the major movie studios can set up a system to directly stream high quality movies instead of going through third parties such as Netflix, Amazon or Blockbuster.

As you can see I have zero sympathy for the music (and the movie) business' current state of affairs. In today's high speed, broadband digital world content is cheap (in fact it's almost worthless) but easy access to content is worth something, as has been shown by the success of the iTunes store.

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Regarding No.2...
jazzfan wrote:

2) Poor artist quality of all post **** (fill in the year of your choice: hint the year you turned 18) music.

I guess I could not respond to Steve's As We See It, because I just simply found it to be really off the mark in many ways. 80's Hardcore punk (Husker Du, The Replacements, The Minutemen, The Meat Puppets, Red Hots, etc.), jazz meeting other forms of fusion (Miles Davis' Decoy or Winton Marsalis), New Wave (Devo, Kraftwerk, ABC, Cure, Duran Duran, INXS, etc) and the related artists riding on the wave, REM and the fledgling alt-country wave (Green on Red, Long Ryders, Steve Earle, Dream Syndicate's new direction, Rank & File, etc.): there were huge bands and movements in music that Steve over-simplified.

One culprit is that way too many times we reduce any decade to the worst of the worst- Cindy Lauper, Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran. How many times have people (rightfully) ripped on glam rock bands while Metal suffered its fate to Grunge? Over-simplification in the market lead to its demise (as well as Grunge) and the resultant fickle masses rejecting everything prior because they didnt make an emotional connection to it. Sooner or later, great music does get recognized- The Pixies are more popular than they ever were touring back then.

Looking back, there really wasn't any movement- even Sub Pop's stable was pretty dang diverse. Those bands needed each other out of simple economics and comradery. They toured together because there simply wasn't enough bands popping out of the woodwork to tour with. Simply, bands could tour the US constantly, get heard by people sick of the mainstream crap on radio, and over time more and more underground exposure (eg: IRS's Cutting Edge on MTV) would force people to look at the alternatives. Nowadays, Alternative applies to anything not straight Rock.

The same applies to the Nineties or the Oughties as well. I cannot agree more with Jazzfan's assertions that it was the recording industry's/corporations inherent responsibility to provide a more direct way to secure their earnings, promote their product and provide more choice for consumers, as many minor labels do with ease now.

Today's music can't and won't coalesce into a recognizable form or movement, because of the very nature of how much music is distributed. There's simply too much out there to define into a genre, outside of the labels that were easy to define years ago- simply because of the high-paced nature of life as we know it. When a strange movie like Repo Man came along, it didnt just propel Emilo Estevez into stardom, it also exposed great bands like Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, among others from its soundtrack, and it remains yet one of many cult classics because of it.

We could place labels on various forms of rock in the Eighties, because record labels were too conservative in what they wanted to support financially- much like the grunge movement in the 90's. There simply wasn't enough exposure placed on the small labels in radio, because radio was paid off and trying even these small bands required people to search them out with like-minded individuals.

It took REM 3 albums to even hit mass market radio, and 5 albums to become superstars. IRS Records, SST, Twin Tone, Sub Pop were all amazing labels, but their sum output prior to massive radio exposure was minimal to say the least. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, or Soundgarden sounded nothing like each other, but they all shared the exposure that radio, as its corporate supporters wanted more earnings simply because it was more marketable then, and easier to define. Limited media exposure from the labels enabled listeners to 'define' a genre like grunge out of simple convenience.

Nowadays, we can access great music from myriad outlets, but its really free, broadcast radio that refuses to grow, outside of the smaller non-profit stations. We can hear great music from other pay-fer outlets, but the mere fact that there are so many prevents any kind of universal acceptance to blossom on a global or national scale. There is simply too much to listen to, and not enough people to universally agree in all but a few cases (The National, Arcade Fire, etc.)

Really it all boils down to exposure. Would I rather have this read by the magazine's readers than the 10 or so people the read this forum? Obviously. Broadcast radio has been the culprit, not digital (as much as I'd like crap on digital.) Exposure is everything.

PS- Former Sony boss Norio Ohga dies at 81. I don't blame him for anything- just the record companies and radio.

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Something no one has mentioned...

One thing no one has mentioned is something that I noticed when looking at my daughter's iPod (as well as her friends). I noticed that my iPod is COMPLETELY occupied with entire albums, while my daughter and her friends iPods are totally loaded with single songs from albums. Being able to purchase a single song is really a paradigm shift that I feel has had led to several issues.

First, is the obvious loss of revenue from buying 99 cent songs. Second, when I used to listen to vinyl, I would listen to the entire album because it was a pain in the "A" to listen to single tracks. I learned to like a lot of other tracks on the album because of it, which led me to being more passionate about an artist's work. Third, I think artists would really think about an album, making sure it send a consistent theme of songs that really flowed well together.

I'm not really sure that there is the same incentive anymore, which has lead to a downfall in creativity and connection with an artist's work.

JIMV
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But so much is dross

I am more offended with having to pay an albums price to get the one decent song...This is why I buy most of my music used.

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one decent song

Reed makes a good point . I have purchased many album's for one particular song and found out there were many good songs to be enjoyed .

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Hilarious...

Who buys album for one song? How superficial to dig one song, and throw out the rest.  I think you prove Guttenberg right by the death of the industry.  Too many short-attention span people who suck the marrow out of something and spit it back.  Perhaps being more open to the rest of it would be more rewarding. 

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One Decent song

   " Who buys an album for one song "  Everyone , from the time we heard that first Elvis or Beatles song on the radio that we had to have in are stash .

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I have noticed

a change in my buying patterns. It used to be one song, but now, I buy artists. Not all at once mind you, but I want ALL the Fountains of Wayne, Barney Kessel, Neil Young, Minutemen, Apples in Stereo and so on. Now I get enthused about an artist and I get on the bandwagon.

It does not always work, while I rally enjoy the later Pink Floyd Umaguma is horrid. And some of Frank Zappa is too much for me to appreciate, and the early Minutemen stuff is a bit harsh. But what they hey, if I really appreciate an artist, I tend to be all in these days.

Anyone else that way?

 

Trey

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What way is that?
Drtrey3 wrote:

a change in my buying patterns. It used to be one song, but now, I buy artists. Not all at once mind you, but I want ALL the Fountains of Wayne, Barney Kessel, Neil Young, Minutemen, Apples in Stereo and so on. Now I get enthused about an artist and I get on the bandwagon.

It does not always work, while I rally enjoy the later Pink Floyd Umaguma is horrid. And some of Frank Zappa is too much for me to appreciate, and the early Minutemen stuff is a bit harsh. But what they hey, if I really appreciate an artist, I tend to be all in these days.

Anyone else that way?

 

Trey

Anyone else what way?

Only kidding since that's pretty much how I've acquired music for most of my life. With some artists you just have to have everything, the good as well as the bad. This is not so bad when dealing with artists who hew pretty much to a given style. For example Van Morrison - some dross but mostly good stuff. However when dealing with artists who may not stay in any one style this can become a bit of a challenge. For example The Residents where one album may really connect with you and another one may just leave you scratching your head.

And when are Fountains of Wayne going to release some new music?

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You just have to look harder

@ Glotz:

"Today's music can't and won't coalesce into a recognizable form or movement, because of the very nature of how much music is distributed. "

If you mean we won't see a huge wave like the eras of the Beatles or other cultural phenomenoms, perhaps you're right. But to say we don't get smaller waves and movements still is not true. Grunge was real, as was early punk, New Wave, 80's alternative, along with >cough!< boy bands, jail-bait teenage divas, and a few other trends that came and went.

About three years ago I started hearing about a little band called Fleet Foxes, and when I actual heard the album got excited like I hadn't for quite a while. Way out alt-folk with bluegrass harmonies and some other kind of magic thrown in. And then I start going to some music festivals and all these other hard to define alt-folk bands start popping up, each a bit different but something was in the air. For once I knew this was going to be big before it was on hardly anyone's radar (except of course trend-setter Stephen M!). 

I went to Newport Folk festival in 2010 and half the audience were all these colleg kids going nuts for these bands, who BTW were as amzing live as recorded. Now it's a real wave- you hear it on the radio all the time, in commercials, movies; everywhere (well, not much in Top 40 I expect, but that's a good sign). And these guys all love vinyl, and clearly are out to make real ALBUMS, with great songs from start to finish- not singles. Again, this is not going to "define a generation" the way bands or trends could before. Not that they are any less great, it's where our culture is today. Fragmented and niche-ified to the max.

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Yes

dbowker wrote:
Again, this is not going to "define a generation" the way bands or trends could before. Not that they are any less great, it's where our culture is today. Fragmented and niche-ified to the max.

I agree with this, and I think it makes for better art and more fulfilling experiences.  The world is rich and teeming with hidden treasures.

I cringe whenever someone says, "There's no good/exciting/innovative music/art/whatever."  The person who makes that statement simply isn't looking in the right places.

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Helplessness Blues
dbowker wrote:

About three years ago I started hearing about a little band called Fleet Foxes, and when I actual heard the album got excited like I hadn't for quite a while. Way out alt-folk with bluegrass harmonies and some other kind of magic thrown in. And then I start going to some music festivals and all these other hard to define alt-folk bands start popping up, each a bit different but something was in the air. For once I knew this was going to be big before it was on hardly anyone's radar (except of course trend-setter Stephen M!).

And the new Fleet Foxes release "Helplessness Blues" is quite good and shows absolutely no signs of the dreaded "sophomore jinx". And yes it is their second official release.

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Count me in.

I agree with 'dkbowker''s premise as well. While it would take a more considered response, I'd throw the idea out there (from the hip) that the cassette helped this fragmentation occur.

Today we have even easier and free access to tons (and tons) of new and old music without the need for a Corporate Machine to deliver it to us. Which is all good as far as I'm concerned although I don't have to be concerned with making money from it which is a genuine concern for those that do...

I also took an informal survey of our two teenage daughters and they both said they download complete albums if the music, i.e. their interest in it, calls for it. Otherwise, they opt for the single track.

Glotz
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All in is the only way to go...
Drtrey3 wrote:

It does not always work, while I rally enjoy the later Pink Floyd Umaguma is horrid. And some of Frank Zappa is too much for me to appreciate, and the early Minutemen stuff is a bit harsh. But what they hey, if I really appreciate an artist, I tend to be all in these days.

Anyone else that way?

Y'know, it may have taken me awhile to appreciate 'Punch Line' or 'What Makes a Man..', or even 80's Zappa or 'Ummagumma', but I can honestly say there is real value in listening to those albums.  Early Husker Du albums were almost unlistenable when I was 15, but now all of those early songs rock! It took ME to grow.  We can see where these bands came from, what culture was like during these eras, and appreciate their songwriting even if it isn't their best works.

Instead of judging music, I enjoy it and let repeated listenings allow me to grow as a listener.  Without that, I could never appreciate Zappa's "London Symphony Orch. Vol.1" or his "Yellow Shark".  Now I can, despite the fact it is challenging music or challenging listening. 

I grew up on AOR (Album-oriented Rock), I firmly believe it's the only way to appreciate an artist's efforts.  A single song simply does not convey all that an artist is trying to present. 

Glotz
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So right..

"I cringe whenever someone says, "There's no good/exciting/innovative music/art/whatever." The person who makes that statement simply isn't looking in the right places."

I consider myself open to music, and listen to hundreds of new bands each week, via WMSE, a true vanguard in college radio.  But truthfully, I have a simple surface understanding of all of the great bands out there, and for anyone to say it's all dross, is misinformed and ignorant to the massive amount of great music that's out there. 

There is just a need for an open mind and some open time to drink it all in. 

Stephen Mejias
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mutant monsters

michaelavorgna wrote:

I agree with 'dkbowker''s premise as well. While it would take a more considered response, I'd throw the idea out there (from the hip) that the cassette helped this fragmentation occur.

I agree.  Hi-fi, as I see it, is currently home to two seemingly disparate wells of inspiration and enthusiasm: vinyl and computer audio.  (Yes, we can add in headphones, but, for the sake of this argument, I'll stick to vinyl and computer audio.) 

Similarly, the world of expression in new music is growing from two seemingly disparate sources: the underground (exemplified by cassette labels and their unique model of distribution) and the motherhonking Internet, which has made accessible all sorts of wonderful, dope shiz that had previously been completely unobtainable, unimaginable even, to millions and billions of young, curious, creative people searching for the coolest, least referenced, new thing to love, digest, and rip-off. 

Something very interesting is happening, both in hi-fi and in music. Just as in hi-fi, where we increasingly see these mutant machines—hybrid integrated amplifier/USB DAC/iPod docks dressed in Eames loungechairs and with their own high-speed Internet connectons, etc.—in music, we are hearing more and more of a collage or pastiche sound: young musicians with laptops and drum machines, referencing everything from the Beach Boys and the Beatles to 1980's R&B (Sade), current pop and hip-hop (Beyonce, Kanye), long-lost analog sythesizer classics (Harald Grasskopf's The Synthesist), music from Ethiopia, Thailand, Vietnam, expatriot jazz, Delta blues, noise experiments, drone, field recordings, horror film soundtracks, porno flicks, the sound of the rainforest, and more—all at once.  Because they can, and why shouldn't they?

Genres are falling from the skies like springtime raindrops, making the pretty little flowers bloom and dance all around, before evaporating, just as suddenly as they appeared. It's fucking crazy. Google, for instance, "witch house" or "hypnagogic pop," or purchase, at random, any of the recent releases from the Not Not Fun, Olde English Spelling Bee, Type, Experimedia, Hyperdub, Honest Jon's, or Blackest Ever Black labels, or just listen to the new Gang Gang Dance and Rainbow Arabia albums.    

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What he said!!

This, my friend, is worth repeating.

Stephen Mejias wrote:
michaelavorgna wrote:

I agree with 'dkbowker''s premise as well. While it would take a more considered response, I'd throw the idea out there (from the hip) that the cassette helped this fragmentation occur.

I agree.  Hi-fi, as I see it, is currently home to two seemingly disparate wells of inspiration and enthusiasm: vinyl and computer audio.  (Yes, we can add in headphones, but, for the sake of this argument, I'll stick to vinyl and computer audio.) 

Similarly, the world of expression in new music is growing from two seemingly disparate sources: the underground (exemplified by cassette labels and their unique model of distribution) and the motherhonking Internet, which has made accessible all sorts of wonderful, dope shiz that had previously been completely unobtainable, unimaginable even, to millions and billions of young, curious, creative people searching for the coolest, least referenced, new thing to love, digest, and rip-off. 

Something very interesting is happening, both in hi-fi and in music. Just as in hi-fi, where we increasingly see these mutant machines—hybrid integrated amplifier/USB DAC/iPod docks dressed in Eames loungechairs and with their own high-speed Internet connectons, etc.—in music, we are hearing more and more of a collage or pastiche sound: young musicians with laptops and drum machines, referencing everything from the Beach Boys and the Beatles to 1980's R&B (Sade), current pop and hip-hop (Beyonce, Kanye), long-lost analog sythesizer classics (Harald Grasskopf's The Synthesist), music from Ethiopia, Thailand, Vietnam, expatriot jazz, Delta blues, noise experiments, drone, field recordings, horror film soundtracks, porno flicks, the sound of the rainforest, and more—all at once.  Because they can, and why shouldn't they?

Genres are falling from the skies like springtime raindrops, making the pretty little flowers bloom and dance all around, before evaporating, just as suddenly as they appeared. It's fucking crazy. Google, for instance, "witch house" or "hypnagogic pop," or purchase, at random, any of the recent releases from the Not Not Fun, Olde English Spelling Bee, Type, Experimedia, Hyperdub, Honest Jon's, or Blackest Ever Black labels, or just listen to the new Gang Gang Dance and Rainbow Arabia albums.    

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Second
michaelavorgna wrote:

This, my friend, is worth repeating.

You are quite right. I will have to give a listen to a few of these groups SM has listed.

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double "digital" dribble

(Note: This was originally posted under the on-line article, but it appears this forum is where all the action is!)

 

Dear Steve G,

Absurd!

It was the industry that killed the industry. But creativity is only more enabled by the tools digital technology. And it provides access to much more music, some is bad, some great.

Well iPods might be blamed for a temporary lull in quality, and redbook CDs somewhat, these for being the immature first representatives. The early entries are the babies of the possibilities of any revolution. And a massive revolution is unfolding indeed.

Digital is not inherently flawed, not anymore than atoms are. Analog is actually digital (discreet) at the atomic level. So it's a matter of resolution, as new digital media is aptly demonstrating.

Creativity has not been killed, it's just that the past industry has squelched our access, and fed us their version of profiteering. But the broad access, along with more mature digital media, is changing all that. But along with all the available access, we will need to weed through the fields to reap the flowers.

My digital keyboard has taken my creative potentials to incredible new levels. My analog piano was fun; the new tech is inspiring and seemingly limitless. It's also easier to make a mess of things OK, but creativity is a journey of adventure and discovery. There is an ever unfolding landscape of unexplored territory from musicians everywhere. Imagine if Bach had this kind of technology!

If you can't embrace the new colors of the musical revolution, fine, your prerogative, and sadly your loss. But please don't make sweeping assertions with no basis in fact. As a "journalist" you have certain responsibilities (at least try to make the case with some rational arguments, or better yet, actual data).

Thanks,

WillW

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singles

re: buying a song and not the album, as per iTunes

remember the little black discs with large holes? (maybe I'm old)

those were the "pop"ular songs' venue of the early days of rock'n'roll, and I don't recall that killing the music world

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Lets not confuse buying a

Lets not confuse buying a disc for one hit , and likely listening to it all most times , and buying one song off the net .

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"Lets not confuse buying a

"Lets not confuse buying a disc for one hit , and likely listening to it all most times , and buying one song off the net ."

 

Intent of others I cannot speak for, nor should I try.

Personally, I prefer the entire album straight through; better yet, an artist's thread through history provides context that enhances my experience.

Just a simple observation point, TIFWIW, that singles' purchases did not seem to harm in the past. So where's the confusion?

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confusion

If you you read all the posts above it's clear .

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I've read the thread through

I've read the thread through b4 posting.  But maybe I did not clearly express my point here.

Maybe you are youthful, but, do you remember 45 RPM single vinyl records? One hit track on side A and a side B that few cared about. This is a similar model to the single offerings now via the likes of iTunes and Amazon etc. But someone I believe (Reed?) made the point that access to these recent single purchases might be part of the problem. I am simply citing parallel history as a counterpoint. The industry made out pretty well selling those "cheap" singles. Sorry if I missed something.

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RE : Read through

Yes I do remember 45's , my first records were Beatles 45's .

I also prefer listening to complete  album's straight through . I guess I missed something . Point taken .

                                                                                                                           Tim

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Listener vs. artist

All this talk of people downloading and listening to a single track rather than an entire album is in need of a little perspective. Up until the introduction of long playing records in the early 1950s all music was released this way. Performers went into the studio and recorded songs for release on 78rpm records. These 78's contained two songs, an "A" side, the "hit" song, and a "B" side, the "bonus" song. After the introduction of long playing records the 45rpm single was used for several important functions: 1) to generate radio air play and thus sales 2) to be used in jukeboxes 3) as a way to entice people into buying the full 33-1/3rpm long playing album The important thing to remember is that throughout the history of recorded music there have always been artists whose primary focus was on producing and selling hit singles. On the other hands there have always been artists whose primary focus was on producing and selling long playing albums. In popular music the line between these two types is often completely obliterated but for many artists working in the popular music field the focus is and always has been on hit singles. As willweber correctly stated this is as true today as it was 40 years ago. The only thing that digital technology is to blame for is the ability to generate playlists, which make the playing of a string of single tracks very easy.

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What about the audience though?

How much does a listener know about a given artist when they hear one song in a long playlist? Does it really inspire them to listen to more of that artist, and if so, a whole album?

Other than DJing a party or a mix tape for the car ride, playlists take us farther away from the artist, rather than closer.  And, I could argue, it limits us from appreciating good sound as well. 

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Another great perspective

My friend Steven Hyden, who writes music reviews for the Onion, just posted this fascinating piece that, I think, condenses a lot of the issues raised in the May "As we See It."  In my opinion, the issues Steven and Noel bring up here are much more central to loving, and buying music than the rise of digital. 

http://www.avclub.com/articles/why-do-popculture-fans-stop-caring-about-new-music,55805/

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Interesting

For a long time I was pushing a couple of ideas...that 99% of music from every generation is crap and will be hard to find in a generation or so, and that todays classical music is simply well made film scores...

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And you would be wrong.

It would logically follow that your world is completely filled with crap.  It probably smells really nice, and people love being there with you. 

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Great article.

I really like this bit:

"Part of what’s so appealing about The River or Double Nickels On The Dime for the fan who grew up with those records is the personal history you have tied up in that music. Returning to them is a way of reliving your past, over and over, in a powerfully vivid way. I love that aspect of music, but I want more. I also want discovery. I want new experiences. I treasure my musical past, but I don’t want to live there, at least not exclusively.  In my view, that’s cutting yourself off from a whole world of great stuff."

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2 different views bring stark reminder...

While one person looks for validation for his views, the other looks to discovery. 

Why should anyone cut themselves off from a whole world of great stuff?  Older favorites in music may prove to be a great litmus test for new music, but new music can also pay homage to our old favorites without being derivative, and bring us in to new vistas where new interpretations can shed light where it wasn't before.

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The Gold from the Garbage
Glotz wrote:

It would logically follow that your world is completely filled with crap.  It probably smells really nice, and people love being there with you. 

 

I have to note it does take a lot of work to cull the gold from the garbage...Thank God for used, cheap CD's..

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The Midas Touch

Listening to music to decide what you like and don't like is work? That's plain silly.

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'Work'...no
michaelavorgna wrote:

Listening to music to decide what you like and don't like is work? That's plain silly.

 

But it is an expensive operation...

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Wait a minute Jazzfan

When you say "history" you are talking about an incredibly narrow slice of time when recorded music was just starting really. Before that, if you listened to music at all it was live. And in that case it was either folk, or something popular at home, for most people religious on Sundays, or classical for the tiny elite minority. None of that actually depended on selling anything to the masses. Popular and folk "sold" itself, and classical was commisioned or produeced for and by the rich. It's almost not worth comparing any of it to the history of recorded music UNTIL you had LPs because that's when real music became truly available to the masses for the first time.

Certainly singles played a big part of radio play and culture throughout the 40's and beyond, but so many other things were different then too. Look at Ray Charles, who had numerous hits. Sure, but he also had years to build and devlop his work. He had a label that supported and belived in him. They were not looking to cash in and out in 1-5 years and then move on. That is what musicians face today. A short-term investment with quick earnings and blockbuster singles.

Many of the "greats" that people point to of the 60s-70's started out very slowly. Look at the first albums of the Rolling Stones or Beatles. Good stuff in there for sure, but not the huge acheivemnts of later years. They all had years to grow, learn and perfect their work. 

That is what is REALLY missing today, not raw talent. It's rare that greatness doesn't come with as much or more practice and growth as talent.

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Numbers

Here's a fun fact  - According to Roland Gelatt in his book "The Fabulous Phonograph", 104 million records were sold in the US in 1927. That's a lot of records. By 1932 that number had dropped to 6M.

Mr. Gelatt points to radio broadcasting as "the major cause" of this decline.

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About that hard work...
JIMV wrote:

I have to note it does take a lot of work to cull the gold from the garbage...Thank God for used, cheap CD's..

And it would continue to follow that you have 99 out of 100 cds that are lying on a big heap in the garbage. 

If I send you my address, can you send them to me?  It will lend value to the hard work of hating the music you buy...

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