Author Topic: State of the music business  (Read 19296 times)

jdh

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2008, 08:57:31 PM »
These are all great points.I am an audiophile,and have been in the sound reinforcement business for some twenty five years,that is what I do,audio,though recently more on the sales side.I can and do get involved with the emotion of the music, but my ear always tunes into the engineering of it as well.I recently read the autobiography of Midge Ure who said that when Ultravox recorded their album Rage in Eden,probably my number record of all time,Conny Plank was the producer and his production was based around engineering,while their next album,Quartet,was produced by George Martin,who was an arranger of songs,which resulted in two very different sounding albums,not just material.
My issue,as I said,is that the CD-Rs I have,not all but many,have become distorted,have glitches during certain quiet passages,and have tracking errors.(skips)This is not made up but fact.These are not 5 years old but recent.Is this due to the mastering,I think not.I have well over 3000 cds that are kept in a secure environemnt and I have never,ever,had a problem with a pressed CD,even twenty years old,unless it was from obvious mis-handling.So the argument that a CD-R sounds excactly like a CD is not true,even if made from the same original.Is the content the same,yes.This is due to the duplicating process.Further,in theory,0s and 1s should be exactly the same but they are not,in the manufacturing,yes,in playback,no.As all audio has to pass through D/A convertors,this is where the errors show up.A company like Apogee have become the standard in the pro industry and studios worldwide for D/A convertors and time clocks,for a reason.I do not sit while listening to Vir Unis and wait with my ears to catch the fault,I sink into the music,but it does make it frustrating to get into a 20 minute track and then have a blast of distortion hit,even if it is only 3 seconds.I recently listened to an Oophoi title,bought about a year ago,on CD-R and it sounded like sludge,then put on a Steve Roach pressed CD,and it sounded great,though that is from two different beasts I guess.I admit fully that this is for the vast minority that care about such things,and that I truly enjoy all the Databloem or Atmo or Hypnos title I got,about 70.

LNerell

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2008, 09:00:43 PM »
There's no difference in the 1's and 0's going onto the disc.   

Actually its not 1's and 0's, its dots and dashes, at least at the CD level. And that's where the problem lies, burning a disc too fast and the dashes look like dots and the dots are too small. At too slow a speed the dots become dashes. As the dye fades its harder to tell which is which.

Quote from: Vir Unis
I like what Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead) said about audio....

Sounds like the kind of thing I would expect from someone who's last disc when mastered was compressed so much that it sounds all distorted and flat.  :P I think he's just saying that so he doesn't have to pay for another pressing.  ;D
Take care.

- Loren Nerell

Wayne Higgins

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2008, 09:00:51 PM »
Considering all these posts, we come to the paradox....

If you want your cd to sound "better", you should have it pressed.  If you have it pressed, you will end up with 490 copies in your basement/shed/garage (very depressing).  If you go the cd-r route, you will constantly have to put up with complaints on how it doesn't sound as good as it would have had it been pressed. (not as depressing as having 490 unsold copies).  So you find that it sells more copies as downloads, but you hear complaints that mp3s sound like crap and are killing the music industry.  Then you find that if you take the time to make MP3s yourself at 256 kbs, they are either transfered to 128 kbs  :((or even 96 kbs  :o) by the internet sites that you have sent it to.

What's an  ??? to do???
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Altus

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2008, 07:49:56 AM »
The masses must learn and accept lossless audio formats.  The main codec that gets the most buzz is FLAC: http://flac.sourceforge.net/
I'm sure many of you are already aware of some sites giving you the option to purchase a FLAC download instead of MP3, which is great to see.

As hard-drives get larger, broadband connections become the norm and bandwidth gets cheaper, people won't have a problem downloading ~350MB for an album.  If disc-burning programs like Nero and Toast were to support these codecs, people could easily burn them to disc without having to convert to WAV/AIF first.  That support is a big hurdle in people accepting the format.  And for the paranoid, they can burn the FLAC files to another disc as a backup.  ;)

Yes, this doesn't answer the problem for those who think that CD-Rs aren't good enough quality-wise but I personally feel that it's completely psychological.  In saying that, things like labels are a big no-no since the high quality ones that have a very good adhesive (read: not Avery) will, over the course of 3-5 years, actually eat away at the top layer of the disc, where the data resides.  I work at a duplication facility and have seen this problem first-hand.  Thermal printers are the way to go IMO, and look much more professional.

I'm rambling...  ;D
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jkn

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2008, 03:19:13 AM »
There's no difference in the 1's and 0's going onto the disc.   

Actually its not 1's and 0's, its dots and dashes, at least at the CD level. And that's where the problem lies, burning a disc too fast and the dashes look like dots and the dots are too small. At too slow a speed the dots become dashes. As the dye fades its harder to tell which is which.


I didn't realize that!    But that's the same reason I always burn as slow as possible.    Fast burnt discs always tend to not work as well.

Altus - absolutely agree on the label issue - that tends to cause the most problems that I've run into over the last 9 or 10 years.



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Vir Unis

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2008, 07:28:15 AM »
For the record, I am audiophile and I like hi-fi!  There, now I've said it and I'm out of the closet....Of course I am a middle aged man trying to recapture the sound of my youth....-:)

Yeah, the Johnny Greenwood reference was more for a slight chuckle....There's obviously some truth to that, but kinda taken tongue in cheek.

I master my own music and treat it as an artform.  Hi fidelity is something that is instilled in the process of good production at every point, from the source tracks all the way to the finished mix.  When it comes to burning on cd, they are burned usually at 1x or 2x; the slower the better.

The whole whether cdrs or cds are better is an old debate, and of course pressed cds are better production quality.  That's kind of a no-brainer.  However, when this difference is fixated upon and the cdrs are produced by independent musicians completely out of the corporate matrix, then it is missing the point.  We are here to serve the music, not big corporate business, and we are listening to something that by and large the general public doesn't want to hear.  I'm sure Brittany Spears pressed cds are flawless....In fact, I bet they'll play perfectly in 50 to 100 years.  Independent musicians, without financial support, have to rely on the good old cd-r to get their music to their listeners.  Will some of them have glitches and problems?  Undoubtedly.  Am I marginalizing the concerns of the listeners by writing all of this?  Not at all.  I don't mean at all to say that it's not a bummer to be listening 20 minutes into something and there's some audio glitch.  That definitely sucks.  I don't like it and I'm sure nobody else does.  Unfortunately it's one of the drawbacks of this below the radar industry of independent musicians proliferating their music to genuine people that are into something that takes some brains and a little bit of soul to get into.  However, I would say out of all the cdrs that I've shipped in the past 6-7 years, the percentage of errors that I've heard of from listeners is probably about 2-4%.  That's obviously a general estimate, but it's quite low overall.  I have problems from pressed cds from time to time as well.

Because I've never really had a pile of money sitting around I've stuck with cdrs for the most part.  I could go with pressed cds, but then I would be working with record labels and I've decided to go the other route.  The whole idea of AtmoWorks was to release music at will whenever I wanted in whatever time frame without someone questioning the mix, the artwork, the timing, etc. etc.  AtmoWorks is an audio blog for me and is something that is in my blood and my heart, a living and breathing thing that lives with me in full and tactile symbiosis as an artist.

This is also why AtmoWorks is starting to go mostly with downloads.  I understand the purists standpoint about compressed audio.  But, again, I personally have some very trained ears from years working in this and I have to say that someone would have to seriously strain their ears in order to hear differences from 320k or even 256k MP3s to wave files.  Yes, there are differences, but they are so subtle that to fixate upon them is to miss the point of what you're listening to.  That's like someone in 1979 listening to Eno's Ambient 4 On Land and complaining that there's tape hiss.  Is that all they heard?  Did they not hear the wonderful and vibrant underwater world lying just beneath the hiss?  Do people sit and watch the film grain during the Godfather or Apocalypse Now?

However, we're also thinking about offering the albums as .iso files, which is an image of the master disc that the downloader can burn to disc.  We've tried flac files as well, but will probably stick with either MP3s or .iso.

That's my monday morning manifesto.

Cheers to all,

VU
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 07:30:40 AM by Vir Unis »

Wayne Higgins

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2008, 08:52:20 AM »
Vir Unis
Quote
That's like someone in 1979 listening to Eno's Ambient 4 On Land and complaining that there's tape hiss.

That's got to be the quote of the year!  Thank you!!!

You know, one of the plus sides of dealing with a small independent like me is that if someone would buy a disc and email me and tell me that 4.25 hours into it, it went "gleinhckhfa", I'd happily replace it.  Hell, I'd be happy that someone actually got through 4.25 hours of it!

Quote
I'm sure Brittany Spears pressed cds are flawless....In fact, I bet they'll play perfectly in 50 to 100 years.
Hmmm..... ::)
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jkn

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2008, 10:16:20 AM »
Mr. Unis, nicely said.  And I agree with you.   Of course, I probably wouldn't be a new co-owner of AtmoWorks if I didn't... :)

A note about the .iso comment John made...   we're looking into giving the wonderful customers of AtmoWorks several options.   High quality mp3's, a cdr duplicated at a factory with disc printing, or a disc image with downloadable artwork.   The disc image contains the full quality music and index markers - exactly the same as if we'd duplicated the cdr.     That way we're covering several options for people.   If you want it for your iPod or mp3 player - great, we have you covered at a very affordable price.    If you want the full cdr option - great.   It'll cost a bit more for obvious reasons.    On the other hand, if you don't care about the disc printing, but want higher fidelity than mp3 - we'll have the disc image for you.

All of this will take some time to sort out - but it's coming... :)

Actually - we have quite a few new ideas brewing at AtmoCentral which you'll start to see rolling out over the next few months...

John



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Altus

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #28 on: March 18, 2008, 04:20:05 AM »
Interesting.  I really like the the idea of the disc image option.  The end user can't mistakenly burn the disc incorrectly, such as forgetting to remove two second gaps between tracks etc, hence ruining what the artist designed.  ZIP or RAR it and it could very likely match the filesize of a FLAC'd release.
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jkn

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2008, 05:52:50 AM »
That's exactly why were looking into it - I don't know if it will work or yet.  The people helping us out believe they have a concept that will work - and of course - as with everything it'll take some time to work out the kinks.  :)

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Vir Unis

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #30 on: March 18, 2008, 07:51:33 AM »
.iso images will work.  it's a standard by the ISO 9660 file system.  Being a standard it should be able to be imported into any cd burning software and burned to a cd-r.  This way, people get an exact image of the master disc that was created by the artist.  I'm hoping that this is acceptable by the more discerning listeners out there.

Essentially, I would like to have the following formats available:

MP3 at 256k or 320k
cd-r
.iso file
limited edition vinyl (on certain releases)

I added vinyl to this because I'm seriously considering putting out a release on vinyl.  I personally love vinyl.  I'm hoping there's more vinyl collectors out there.  Blue or clear vinyl is what I'd like.  I'd probably only have 50-100 made.

VU

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #31 on: March 18, 2008, 08:17:44 AM »
I don't believe I've ever seen a single-step solution for creating an ISO disc image of an audio CD.  Seems like it should be a simple thing, but I've yet to see it in practice.  What application are you guys using to turn an audio CD into an .ISO file?
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Vir Unis

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #32 on: March 18, 2008, 08:31:53 AM »
Currently, I'm using CD Architect for .iso., but I think that's a proprietary file format and it's not exactly a true .iso file.  I believe any time that you burn a cd in most programs it gives you the choice to burn the file as a temporary .iso image first.  I think you can extract that and make it a permanent file, but that's the part we're looking into.

jkn

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2008, 08:45:36 AM »
Lovely standards!  :)    I have a co-worker who is really into audio and video formats.   He and his son are looking into it.   They're aware of the issues with the various apps and they say they have a plan to make it work... somehow.     That's why I was a bit more hesitant in my post about looking into it and working out the kinks.   Once we have something working and we get a chance to test it out I'll be happy to talk about it more. 

The great thing about John is he has these wonderful ideas (actually - I'm not sure if the downloadable disc images idea was John's or Matt's or a combination of both...).   My co-worker believes this will work - so we'll see what happens!



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mgriffin

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2008, 09:16:36 AM »
Currently, I'm using CD Architect for .iso., but I think that's a proprietary file format and it's not exactly a true .iso file.  I believe any time that you burn a cd in most programs it gives you the choice to burn the file as a temporary .iso image first.  I think you can extract that and make it a permanent file, but that's the part we're looking into.

Nero and Toast, the two applications I use (Nero for Windows and Toast for MacOSX) both do give you the option of creating a temporary image on the hard drive, but it's not an ISO file.
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Altus

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #35 on: March 18, 2008, 06:41:14 PM »
Although this is a Windows-only solution, it may be legally feasible to include this freeware tool along with the ISO.
http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/downloads-free-software.htm - BurnCDCC
It's really small and doesn't require to be installed.  I've tested it and it works like a charm.

I took a quick look at the license. As far as I can tell, as long as you distribute with everything in the ZIP and make it clear that the customer is only paying for the music and not the burning tool, it should be okay.  Obviously if it was something you were interested in doing, contacting the company would be a good idea.  ;)

As for making a "true" ISO file, try this:
http://www.lucersoft.com/freeware.php - LC ISO Creator
Again, extremely small and damn easy to use.  It only has one button: "Make ISO"  haha
I haven't tested this software.

I hope these tools might come in useful.
Mike Carss -- Altus : aural journeys for the mind's eye
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Vir Unis

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2008, 07:23:15 AM »
Altus, thanks for the link on LCISOCreator.  I think this may work.  We're checking it out now.  Some very good ideas from you!

VU

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2008, 08:50:18 AM »
I think it would be a mistake to offer disc images for download that are in a format that isn't truly standard.  Including Windows-only software with the download, even if it's free, would seem like a slap in the face to a significant (and growing) segment of your potential audience.

It would be better to find a tool yourselves, to create a truly standards-compliant ISO image (if it's possible) so that no matter what system or software a customer is using, they can access the disc image and burn it themselves.
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Vir Unis

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2008, 08:56:09 AM »
Aren't .iso files a standard?


mgriffin

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Re: State of the music business
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2008, 09:06:49 AM »
Yes, true ISO files are standard and I don't know of any burning software that won't open them.  As you mentioned before, there are some applications that save a file with an *.ISO extension that is not a truly standard ISO file. Maybe I misunderstood Altus's suggestion to include software along with a download, to enable people to use a disc image file... I took his suggestion to mean, here's a way you can let people access a non-standard file.
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