Author Topic: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?  (Read 40978 times)

Hypnagogue

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2009, 06:30:18 AM »
 And wouldn't a lot of people love to listen to an audio interview by interesting personages in our little music niche, not only featuring Q&A but also, again, example music?

Blake Gibson (Broken Harbour) suggested much the same in an e-mail to me recently. How much draw there might be for the podcast in having interviews, etc. I've definitely thought about it, but for me the time and tech required to do it well seems a bit exhausting. I've been thinking a lot about how to make the Hypnagogue podcast different--or if I need to bother to do so. I think it's tough when, like me, you are just a "bedroom broadcaster," as opposed to having the resources of a John Diliberto or Bill Fox.

I'm still trying to figure out if the podcast should be more review-focused, or just showcase new stuff by playing it. (In my upcoming #12, I set aside 30 of the 90 minutes solely for new work--something I think I'm going to try to continue doing going forward.)
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Wayne Higgins

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2009, 06:58:54 AM »
Quote
Do we already have too much music? Does it make sense to try to strive for quality over quantity? Is it impractical? I am honestly curious to know, as Mike is, what people's feelings are in this realm...
Not the first person to ask this question.  This is one of the questions asked at the conference I attended in Nashville in April.  One of the proposed reasons for the drop in music sales, sharing, downloads, and theft is that many people already have enough music.  Their Ipod or hard drive is already full.

I have stated before that the only problem with ambient music is that everyone that listens to it makes it, or at least a larger percentage than rock or country.  As far as the professional graphics printing part, I can understand the difference, but there are a plenty of lame professional products out there to substatiate the argument that that's not it.  The question is not why don't the buy, but why do they buy what the do.  What is being sold these days when it comes to ambient music, or any music for that matter.  The best quote of 2008 to me was "If High School Musical is in the top ten, the industry is in big trouble."  I usually don't look at it as how is "ambient music doing?" as much as "how is music doing?"  Humor me.  Let me continue.

I posted this on the now dead and buried Oenyaw website a few years ago.  (Although, there are time Mr. O seems to desire resurection)

Strategies in Marketing Music
Potato Chips.  Let's say that you are a department manager in a really big store.  Your area is snack food.  You know that there is a new potato chip that is better than potato chip ever made.  Chun-yen's Organic Potato Chips.  They deserve an entry in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Universe, they are so good.  The problem is that they are not advertised, so they don't sell that well.  You, the manager, have 500 feet of shelf space.  If you devote 5 feet of space to Chun-yen's Organic Chips, that is 5 space you remove from the already 495 feet devoted to all those other brands that have been selling for years.  The brands that sponsor race cars, the brands that super heroes eat.  It doesn't matter how you feel about these chips, you will not be looked on favorably by the long line of superiors that you work for unless you keep those chips moving.  No matter how they taste, no matter what the nutritional studies from India are proving, you will stock the best selling chips, if you want to keep your job.


I think more emphasis should be placed on the art itself, and not the printing.  Which is probably why most of ambient music sales are in the form of downloads as opposed to hard copy disc sales.  Face it, as long as large corporations are in control of mainstream music, we aren't going to find ambient music sections in the stores.
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michael sandler

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2009, 07:33:19 AM »
Podcasters, more in number and in variety
I think there's a lot of room for this kind of "bedroom broadcaster" role -- not just "here's a cool mix of tracks you may not have heard," but retrospectives/overviews of certain artists or labels or sub-genres, or maybe interviews or interpretive/critical features.  As interesting as it is to read an essay or an opinion piece about music, how much more compelling would it be to listen to an audio essay featuring example music?  And wouldn't a lot of people love to listen to an audio interview by interesting personages in our little music niche, not only featuring Q&A but also, again, example music?

Mikoli Weaver aka Sonoprint did a few interviews where he did just that, laced the talk with the artist's music. He does a good job of it. He has four of them on a MySpace page:
www.myspace.com/offtherecordinterview

The "plays" numbers on the page aren't off the charts, but people are listening. It's about what you would expect for interviews with artists who are obscure to the vast majority of humankind (even Robt. Rich is not a household word).

MikeS

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2009, 07:37:26 AM »
Lots of interesting thoughts and ideas....

I do my own music and where possible art - though sometimes it needs adjusting as in fitting into a label artistic profile. I have always found the context of the music is as important to me as the sound and that can be well conveyed by great art.

I don't churn stuff out and try to make it as solid and interesting as possible on both grounds. I know I have been lucky in that everything i have done has so far been put out on a label so not had much room for releasing music myself (though one of the collabs i am working on will be self released as CDR).

I find it is a fine balance between working hard to get the sounds just right (in the midst of all the other demands a life puts on me) and releasing enough music to keep people interested. I notice in the now playing thread that some artists do manage to get listened to all year round but many of us tend to go in peaks and troughs - often associated with releases. I think it is hard to gauge how much our music is enjoyed by everyone who listens in that context.

also I find the internet does make things easier in some ways, but perhaps less personal in others. I don't invest the time in sites like myspace in order to build up a 'following' and have been surprised at how many people who say they like the music seem to recoil from personal contact via email (unless my gruff invective and lewd personal comments scares them off :o) - but have enjoyed the contact with those who seem to value it.

I would like something that helps develop the relationships between musicians and listeners more personally.

before i got back into making music i did some reviewing and was totally inspired by the (can't remember the name of the magazine) that did a whole, many page exploration of the Electric Ladyland LP, including interviews, stories and anecdotes - it was great and the sort of deeply in depth stuff that to me is generally missing in the web  reviews.


Wayne Higgins

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2009, 08:11:38 AM »
My son (Dave, 27) just made an interesting comment.  He has recently gotten into vinyl.  He is making observations about the differences between digital and analog from a standpoint of someone who has gone from digital to analog, not analog to digital, as I did growing up with records and switching to cds (of which I have done an about face and in the past two years have bought less than 10 cds but over 1000 albums).  His comment was that digital music is made to be on the go.

Not particularly on the idea of this thread, but something to consider. 
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cromag

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2009, 05:31:16 PM »
Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?

Beats me!  I'm a listener, and I'm just along for the ride!  ;D

I prefer true CDs because I believe they stand the best chance of lasting as long as me.  A good quality CD-R, burned on a good drive at the slowest possible speed is an acceptable second choice, but I'll burn an extra copy of those and keep them in a dark box.  But if it comes down to buying a CD at $25 or downloading  the music for $10, I'll download.  If I can download lossless FLACs, so much the better.

I appreciate good packaging.  It might tip me in favor of buying a CD that I was already interested in, but all by itself it won't pull me in.  When a CD comes in a jewel case with art and notes, I keep it that way.  Most of the time I buy music online I burn a CD-R with the supplied artwork (or some of my own, if necessary) and keep it in a slim jewel case, with an archival copy in a paper envelope.  (I wish I had more room, but that's my problem.)

As far as the music and creative direction -- that's not my decision.  I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to love next.  For every artist who has taken a direction that left me cold, at least one new artist has shown up with a keeper.

I'll try to think of something else, but right now this area of my life is going pretty good!  ;)
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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2009, 05:47:05 PM »
I agree with Mark.
Too much out there.One of the reasons I slowed way down on collecting music (I am not an artist) is that
there is too much of the same,whatever the label or artist.That is why in another thread I said I admired David Sylvain for at least going on a different tangent.To the artist who has put out 6 or 10 Cds that are all similar,change it up.One of the many reasons I-Tunes is popular is because of the single track purchase.Most releases have a few good tracks,the rest is rubbish.I do not buy the singles as I am a whole CD type but if you are going to that,make sure it is interesting.
I do agree that downloads are the future-it is here,and the concept is brilliant.I am just a hold over from the CD era,before that,vinyl.
And yes,CD-Rs are cheaper and it may cost an artist much more money to put out a pressed CD only to sell 50.But chances are that artist will not get my attention.
Again,for me,audio quality is important.I will not buy anymore CD-Rs as much as I may enjoy the music or artist as the technical aspect will fail.So to those who put out CD-Rs ( and there is a place for them) increase the quality control.I have ordered some in the past that would not play or that had a massive sound glitch of noise in the middle of a 10 minute track,not pleasant on headphones I can tell you.
And what about longer samples of each song or a few complete songs.How can I get an idea of a 20 minute song or a 70 minute CD from 3 minutes of samples.I recently listed to Rapoon ( a fav.) on My Space and the 7 tracks there in full was interesting.Or go to the PIL site (who reformed) and they have a player with 20 full songs.Or go to Boomkat.com,a full song of every track for download to listen to.(though with a beep every 30 seconds.)

Altus

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #27 on: October 06, 2009, 07:38:14 PM »
While I generally aim for three releases a year (which could be considered too much by some), I try to keep things fresh by having each release sounding different than the last.  I cycle between floaty ambient (borderline new age), darker ambient, and sprinkle with orchestral stuff in a film soundtrack vein.  In doing so, I'm sure there's listeners who only enjoy some releases, but I figure I capture a larger audience in the process.

As an artist to who gives away everything, I think it's hard to find a following from listeners who generally download, listen once, and forget about it.  I'm sure 75% of my downloads fall into that category.  This is the down-side everyone's talking about... about losing the magic of getting your hands on a new release... there's no commitment to the music.  But I do have repeat contact from a number of visitors with their comments, and interest in upcoming releases, so I must be doing something right.

Seren's comment on having listeners recoil from personal contact seems bizarre to me.  I've seen the opposite.  Perhaps since I give my stuff away, I'm more approachable since I'm not seen as "a real artist".  I'm just some guy who makes music.  ;D
« Last Edit: October 06, 2009, 07:39:59 PM by Altus »
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APK

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2009, 07:41:41 PM »
I agree with much of what jdh said ... at least in principle.

But I don't have any particular reverence for the pressed CD over the CDr because everything I buy I rip to hard disk and play it from there. So I actually prefer the cheaper download option. But of course, I'd also like to see more time taken on releases (no matter what format) to get the very best out of them. This filtering was built in when a label had to pay $1,000+ for a pressing run. Back then you couldn't afford to put out anything that would flop, so you put serious time into it. But with relatively inexpensive CDr and net releases there is a ton of sub-par stuff being released and the market, as a result, is flooded. Reminds me of the original mp3.com where people put up absolutely anything and everything.

But on to what I'd like to see.

I'd also like to see a lot more samples. I don't expect whole tracks, but give at least a really good representative set of samples. I'm fond of saying that a sample is worth a thousand words. It is ... but it can be misleading with respect to the whole album if it's too short, not representative, and if there are too few to judge an album by. I get annoyed if a 30 minute track has just a one minute sample of what is obviously just the beginning of the track and it has yet to develop. Whoever is selling the album should take time to select some representative samples so the buyer is not surprised when he/she listens to the whole thing and finds that the only good bits on the album were the sample selections !

My main gripe these days is the sheer cost of downloads. I've seen their price continually rising with the major sellers I know of. I can see the day when an album is sold only as a download, and for the same price as the physical album used to be sold for. Its a rip off. The download version is considerably less costly than the physical album to create and to continually deliver. I'm quite amazed at what some places are charging for them. Its no surprise that illegal downloads begin to be live options in many buyers minds. Of course, with lots of middle-men getting in on the game the price has to be high so everyone gets a cut. Think of the CDbaby route: artist gets a cut, CDbaby gets a cut, and iTunes gets a cut. Its an odd game.
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Seren

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2009, 12:47:20 AM »

Seren's comment on having listeners recoil from personal contact seems bizarre to me.  I've seen the opposite.  Perhaps since I give my stuff away, I'm more approachable since I'm not seen as "a real artist".  I'm just some guy who makes music.  ;D

I've just been surprised that some people, not many true, but some, don't respond to emails. If an artist I like to listen to emailed me I'd be over the moon.......

michael sandler

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #30 on: October 07, 2009, 04:28:44 AM »
My son (Dave, 27) just made an interesting comment.  He has recently gotten into vinyl.  He is making observations about the differences between digital and analog from a standpoint of someone who has gone from digital to analog, not analog to digital, as I did growing up with records and switching to cds (of which I have done an about face and in the past two years have bought less than 10 cds but over 1000 albums).  His comment was that digital music is made to be on the go.

Not particularly on the idea of this thread, but something to consider. 

This is very interesting. Did he make any other observations?

MikeS

michael sandler

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #31 on: October 07, 2009, 04:55:27 AM »
While I generally aim for three releases a year...

For God's sake man, lay off the coffee!  ;)

michael sandler

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2009, 04:59:11 AM »
My main gripe these days is the sheer cost of downloads. I've seen their price continually rising with the major sellers I know of. I can see the day when an album is sold only as a download, and for the same price as the physical album used to be sold for.

Hmmm...howmuchyawannabet that was the plan all along?

Mike Conspiracy Theory S.

michael sandler

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2009, 05:11:25 AM »

Seren's comment on having listeners recoil from personal contact seems bizarre to me.  I've seen the opposite.  Perhaps since I give my stuff away, I'm more approachable since I'm not seen as "a real artist".  I'm just some guy who makes music.  ;D

I've just been surprised that some people, not many true, but some, don't respond to emails. If an artist I like to listen to emailed me I'd be over the moon.......

Yeah, I once got an email from a well-known space music guy saying he liked a track I did, and to say it made my day would be an understatement.

MikeS

Brian Bieniowski

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2009, 06:09:24 AM »
A lot of very interesting comments in this thread.

As a music buyer, I'm not much into downloading my music free of packaging.  My fear is that we'll see mostly digital releases paired with extremely limited pressings of CD/CDR/LP for the die-hard collectors in future.  It makes sense that things might go in this direction, but I don't like it.  For one thing, it pressures the consumer who prefers hard copies to purchase ASAP or miss out.  And it also limits the ability to go back and buy older releases you might not have heard of in time.  Anybody tried to go back and find a limited edition of 45 copies from even six months ago?  Better to pan for gold in the Potomac.  I also think the price point of downloads has to change to attract meI feel there's no reason it should be so close in line with professionally pressed CDs.  And the threat of the entire world of music being one big MP3.com?  I have a hard time seeing it will be good for artists who haven't already developed a following (or those few lucky to rise above because of hype).

I've warmed to CDRs again after several years of avoiding them.  I suppose time will tell, but I feel as though they're more reliably manufactured now.  Perhaps I'll eat those words in a few years, but I haven't noticed the almost immediate failings as I did releases from the very early 00s.


petekelly

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #35 on: October 07, 2009, 08:20:33 AM »

Packaging / artwork is one thing, but the music is the work. I would imagine in most cases, the
packaging /artwork is an afterthought. Looked at once the music has been finished, Sure, its
important (as are the album name and track titles) and part of the whole 'package', but its not the
primary artistic statement.

Anyone can release as much material as they want to these days.
In an increasingly 'instant' culture, I'd be curious to know how much time was spent on an album and
how much time an artist thinks might be needed to create the album. Forrest's comment on him taking
a year on a single track, shows a serious commitment to the work. I would say this level of
committing such a large amount of time is rare these days. I'm not saying spending 10 years on an
album is a good thing, but recording a 'jam' and releasing it as an album swings to the other side
of things.

My feeling is that over time, listeners will tire of all the huge amount of stuff out there. After
all, there's only so many hours in the day to listen to music. Equally some artists will tire of
releasing their work.

While it fair to say theres a lot of samey-ness/recycling in ambient, it doesn't apply to every
artist. Maybe one can tire of ambient ?. Certainly I'd like to hear a wider variety of interesting
sound(s) in the genre.

What do listeners want from the 'scene' ? I really don't know. For me, I think the bottom line is
Quality - quality work that can be listened to repeatedly and reveal new elements over time.
On the subject of fidelity, the content is king. A fantastic production is highly desirable, but not
at the expense of the content.

cheers
Pete

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #36 on: October 07, 2009, 02:32:26 PM »
My feeling is that over time, listeners will tire of all the huge amount of stuff out there. After
all, there's only so many hours in the day to listen to music. Equally some artists will tire of
releasing their work.

I don't think it takes long at all for an individual listener to become bored with an enormous glut of music.  The only problem is, once they realize they're tired of downloading 100 new albums per week with bittorrent, that there aren't enough hours in a day to listen to it all, they don't go back to the way things were before.  That is, they don't delete the 32,000 tracks from their iTunes library and go back to listening to only their favorite music by only their favorite artists.  Once a music-lover has lost the special joy of obtaining a coveted new album and investigating it quietly and carefully in one's own listening room, and come to look at music as something to be counted by the sheer quantity of files in an iTunes library, I doubt the music-lover recovers that joy.
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9dragons

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #37 on: October 07, 2009, 04:11:10 PM »
It is good to see that there are dedicated listeners out there who still dig the whole package. I agree with Pete that ultimately it is the music that is important; I wouldn't keep an album if only the packaging were nice, and the music sucked. It's funny though, Pete, you have one of the best graphic artists in music packaging, Kati, doing your covers!

There is another benefit to having nice packaging and a real cd. It is the resale value. Back when I had a fair amount of cash to spare for music collecting, I had a great time trying out many albums. But recently, with going back to school and being unemployed, I was forced into selling off a significant chunk of my collection. These were all albums that I liked, and was not happy to part with. But the money raised was much more than expected and this cash floated me through a tough spot. The funny thing is though, even getting rid of a bunch of albums, I still have a vast amount of music in my collection that I have not fully explored, and some I have barely even listened to but am saving for that perfect moment. I still have more than enough music to not have to listen to the same album twice for two months. How many out there buy albums and keep them in heavy rotation, and keep going back to them, really getting the value out of them, before carefully choosing to purchase the next work? I am kind of in this mode now. But I see buying a cd as an investement. You know you can get some money back on it on Ebay, if it becomes necessary. That's important to me. Just like buying books. Like Brian, I hope the cd doesn't become a collector's artefact, with downloads being the majority. I seriously will just stop buying music if that happens. For my way of thinking and approaching art, downloads will just never cut it. I feel like I'm buying air, and paying too much for it. We've gone over this whole dynamic before here on the forum...

I think the scene could be revitalized, if indeed it needs revitalization, by more ambient music gatherings and festivals, or just more live work going on in the major cities. Not sure how this could happen though. Touring must be hard, especially for introspective artists making this type of single artist music.  Maybe we should begin by agitating for an Ambient section in our local record stores...

« Last Edit: October 07, 2009, 04:23:24 PM by 9dragons »

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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #38 on: October 07, 2009, 04:16:03 PM »
Speaking of extremely limited releases... not to derail too much but has anybody seen any news from Martin aka Seconds in Formaldahyde aka Waterscape Records?  Their limited editions of 50 (which were always sold out by the time I tried to reorder after our first batch had sold) were the first thing I thought of when someone mentioned too-limited releases.

No news on http://www.waterscape.de most of the year...
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Re: What would you like to see happen in the ambient genre?
« Reply #39 on: October 07, 2009, 04:57:37 PM »
My son (Dave, 27) just made an interesting comment.  He has recently gotten into vinyl.  He is making observations about the differences between digital and analog from a standpoint of someone who has gone from digital to analog, not analog to digital, as I did growing up with records and switching to cds (of which I have done an about face and in the past two years have bought less than 10 cds but over 1000 albums).  His comment was that digital music is made to be on the go.

Not particularly on the idea of this thread, but something to consider. 

This is very interesting. Did he make any other observations?

MikeS

I can understand the idea, but I suspect that he just missed the whole 1980s Walkman phase.  The first time I went out for a hike in a park with headphones on and Fleetwood Mac's Mystery to Me album playing I would have made the same distinction between LPs and cassettes.
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