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Online Music Brings New Life To Old Music 161

Rick Zeman writes to tell us The Washington Post has a look at how online music has helped to revitalize eclectic or out of print music. From the article: " Because the Internet has changed how people discover and share music, the rules of marketing it and the hierarchy of who determines what's hot have also changed. As radio-music listenership declines, the industry finds itself spending more time courting a broader field of tastemakers who, through Web sites, are popularizing songs that never get radio play. The primary tool in this transition is the playlist -- a sequence of tracks posted on blogs or shared on music purchase sites such as iTunes. Not just that, but also 'about 2,700 albums have been brought back through the Vault, with more than 5,000 scheduled to follow' with those albums not having enough demand to justify another printing."
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Online Music Brings New Life To Old Music

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  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:47PM (#15598666)
    Not just that, but also 'about 2,700 albums have been brought back through the Vault, with more than 5,000 scheduled to follow' with those albums not having enough demand to justify another printing.

    Just how much "demand" does it take?

    You'd offer them for sale, on-line. There's no distribution costs.

    And you wouldn't even need to keep them in stock. Just charge enough to cover printing the inserts and burning the CD. All of the costs are passed on to the buyer. It's pure profit. The "advertising" would be done by the "blogs" mentioned.
    • If I'm going to buy a CD, I want it pressed not burned. Any self respecting slashdotter should know that burnable media have a lousy shelf life. Secondly, it would cost a hell of a lot to sell custom prints. You have to pay someone to burn the disks, print the insert, cut it out, fold it, take the jewel case apart, put it in correctly, address the envelope, apply postage and take it to the post office. A custom burn job like this would be very expensive compared even to the inflated cost of commercial d
      • Secondly, it would cost a hell of a lot to sell custom prints. You have to pay someone to burn the disks, print the insert, cut it out, fold it, take the jewel case apart, put it in correctly, address the envelope, apply postage and take it to the post office. A custom burn job like this would be very expensive compared even to the inflated cost of commercial discs.

        Yet I can go to various clubs and hear new, local bands (unsigned) who are selling their CD's for $10 each.

        And they had to pay that "very expens

        • In the case of the local band, they only have a few different albums (if they even have more than one). This means that they don't have to hedge their bets on which albums are going to sell and which aren't. Add to this the fact that the band can be reasonably sure that the people buying the discs at their shows were there to hear that band play in the first place.

          It really doesn't compare.
        • There's a large probability the garage bands do the work themselves. It is very cheap to burn a disk and put in an insert if there are no labor costs (i.e., DIY). To do a good job on one album could easily take 30 minutes or more. Yes, the burning only takes 5 minutes, and the printing 1, but you need reliable labor to get the order, process it, ensure the right disk goes in the correct envelope, address it, apply postage, etc. All of these little things added together could easily be a half hour. If y
          • I'm quite certain you could build a machine that would pick up a disk, burn it, print the labels, pick up the individual parts of the Jewel case, put the papers in the case, assemble the case, put the CD in the case, and put it all in an envelope, sealed, and postage paid. It can't really be that hard. I would probably be cheaper and more reliable than hiring a person to do it. Plus it would work 24 hours a day.
          • I know and see a lot of garage bands, and they all pay to have their CDs pressed, and printed professionally, including the cases. Some do jewel cases, and others cardboard sleeves, and the number of colors may vary, but they're usually 4 color. Most look and sound pretty good, and it's not that expensive, even though they're typically doing runs of 1000-2000.

            Occasionally people have home burned CDs, much like they used to do home duped tapes back in the days of vinyl disks and mylar tape, but even bands
      • If I'm going to buy a CD, I want it pressed not burned.
        Is there a milling machine which can cut CD plastic to the proper shape?
      • Any self respecting slashdotter should know that burnable media have a lousy shelf life.

        If you were a self-respecting slashdotter, you would know that is only true for cheap burnable media. High quality burnable media has an estimated shelf-life of about 200 years. Which is better than the standard pressed media. And the high quality stuff still costs less than $1 per disc.
      • Secondly, it would cost a hell of a lot to sell custom prints. You have to pay someone to burn the disks, print the insert, cut it out, fold it, take the jewel case apart, put it in correctly, address the envelope, apply postage and take it to the post office. A custom burn job like this would be very expensive compared even to the inflated cost of commercial discs.

        Most of the operations you describe happen anyway with a commercial release. Those too need inserts cut, folded and stuffed into the case. T

    • Excellent point. The truth is that old music is competition for new music. Every new act the recording industry introduces is competing with everything else that already exists. But since they own the competition, record companies can control it to a great extent by shutting off the supply line for old acts.
  • Soviet music (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T.Hobbes ( 101603 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:55PM (#15598686)
    A great site I found a couple of years ago is http://english.sovmusic.ru/ [sovmusic.ru] . It's got thousands of mp3s taken from Soviet LPs and such, going back to the 1930s. Really amazing stuff. And it's run by a communist with a real to-each-according-to-his-need point of view, so everything there is free to download.

    If you want an idea of the mentality in Russa after the fascists attacked, listen to this:
    http://www.sovmusic.ru/english/download.php?fname= saintwar [sovmusic.ru]
    • Thanks, this looks really interesting. :)
    • That is one intense tune. I can remember watching a WWII film strip (anyone remember that technology?) accompanied by a cassette tape narration and soundtrack way back in 1976 that had a different version of the same song on it. Along with the horrific photos, it really made the hair on the back of my young neck stand up. It still does! Be sure to check out the translated lyrics on that great site.

      To paraphrase Montgomery, there were 3 lessons to be learned from WWII:
      1. Never invade Russia
      2. Never inv
    • Thanks!

      I've wanted to hear that kind of sound for years:-DDD

    • Love this quote from that page: "Please don't be hasty to abuse this site with harsh words and then go off to a favourite porn site."
  • playlist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @09:57PM (#15598692)
    "The primary tool in this transition is the playlist"

    So how long will it be before someone cries foul, waves a 'playlist' patent and tries to make a dishonest buck out of this?

    Stupid idea perhaps, but my god if there haven't been some godawful 'patents' showing upand causing trouble of late.

    I'll go back to the cynics corner now....
    • Re:playlist (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:33PM (#15598790) Homepage
      So how long will it be before someone cries foul, waves a 'playlist' patent and tries to make a dishonest buck out of this?

      Good question. Here's another one: how long until the corporations have fully astroturfed the playlists? They co-opt everything else. What's stopping them in this case?

      • Well, so long as they aren't engaged in payola with my close friends and associates, I should be able to avoid astroturfing. Also, one can find out pretty quickly by listening to the songs on any given playlist if the list maker's taste is utter crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:01PM (#15598706)
    Check out bluebeat. It's the best music service nobody every heard of for depth of catalog.
    It has all the music from 1910 wax cylinder recordings, 1920 and 30's delta blues, ragtime etc. up to the most current hits. Best of all its currently free. (Free for windows users that is.) At 320k it's something you do want to hook up to your stereo. Anybody found anything that comes even close?
  • by linuxbaby ( 124641 ) * on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:05PM (#15598715)
    Those interested in this subject might want to read an essay I wrote about COVER SONGS in Digital Distribution [cdbaby.org].

    SHORT VERSION: My company is one of the back-end providers of music to Apple iTunes, EMusic, Rhapsody, and all the other digital music services. But we sell/distribute ONLY independent music directly from the artists - no record labels.

    When our sales reports started coming back from Apple, I was stumped. They were artists I had never heard of. I assumed it would be our top-sellers in the physical-CD world, but instead we had artists who had only sold 2 CDs, ever, selling $5000 in downloads.

    It took a lot of research, but I figured it out : all of the top-selling albums in the digital music services were albums with cover songs. Often selling their full-album if they had even one cover song on it, which means that strangers were finding them because of that cover song, then liking their original music so much they bought the whole thing.

    I'm advising all musicians I know to include one good creative (not-too-covered, not-too-obscure) cover song on their future albums, to help call attention to it in this song-based search world.

    • by The Blue Meanie ( 223473 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:57PM (#15598843)
      I'm advising all musicians I know to include one good creative (not-too-covered, not-too-obscure) cover song on their future albums, to help call attention to it in this song-based search world.

      This is VERY good advice. I bought The Ataris' So Long, Astoria *specifically* because of the well-done cover of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" it had. Turns out the rest of the album was pretty good, and it remains planted on my playlist (after the requisite ripping to 320K .mp3, of course).
      • I didn't bother with that album, I bought the CD single instead. Still the only reason why I got it (The Ataris - Boys of Summer) was due the radio airplay it got localy.
      • Turns out the rest of the album was pretty good, and it remains planted on my playlist (after the requisite ripping to 320K .mp3, of course).

        I hope you understand that if you bought a 128kbps AAC file, then re-encoded it as 320kbps MP3, the resulting MP3 file will be WORSE quality than the original AAC file (in adition to being 2.5 times the file size). Interoperability is the only valid reason for doing this; if that's why you're doing it, carry on.
        • <sarcasm>And I hope you understand that I actually - gasp! - bought the CD and ripped and encoded it all by myself. I know, I know - it was a moment of weakness, and I really hate myself for having done it. I'll try not to let it happen again</sarcasm>

          Seriously, though, I have no regrets having bought this album or any others out of the small handful of original, pressed, expensive CDs I've purchased in the last few years. But in almost each and every case, I've come across the tracks onlin
      • I tried to find a way to send this privately, but no-go. Just wanted to thank you for mentioning the Ataris " Boys of Summer". I'd never heard that version before, but the Henly version is one of my fave tracks. You've just scored another Ataris convert - purchased the album a few minutes ago. No, the RIAA must be correct - music downloads don't have any impact on music purchases... ;-)>
    • Very cool. I'd be interested in seeing some examples, if you're allowed to list them.

      While we're on (or off) the topic, can you shine some light onto why all the major online music stores sell music sampled at 128kbps? I'd buy much more online if the fidelity was higher. Is there any discussion at all about stocking songs in a lossless format? There has to be demand for this, and I'd think that any ITMS competitor who wanted attention would try this.

      In an attempt to bring this back on topic, I'll point
      • can you shine some light onto why all the major online music stores sell music sampled at 128kbps?

        I expect so. It simply costs less in bandwidth. That's one of several reasons why I don't bother with iTunes. I prefer to buy the CD and rip my own mp3s at 192kb/s. Not because that format/bitrate is ideal by any means, it just gives me an optimum sound quality to storage space ratio for my iPod and mp3-CD car stereo.
      • While we're on (or off) the topic, can you shine some light onto why all the major online music stores sell music sampled at 128kbps?

        Keep in mind that 128kbps AAC is higher quality than 128kbps MP3, so if you're avoiding the iTunes Music Store because you don't like the sound of 128kbps MP3s, I suggest you try downloading some of the free tracks they offer (look in the bottom left corner of the home page, new free songs released every Tuesday). You can do this without giving them any credit card information, although you do have to register with a valid e-mail address.

        Of course if you've heard 128kbps AAC and aren't satisfied, then I fully agree that you shouldn't send them your money.

        To answer your question, the reasons Apple and their competitors offer compressed music are:

        1) smaller files use less bandwidth for the user to download, therefore costing Apple less money
        2) smaller files take less time to download, so the user gets closer to instant gratification
        3) smaller files take up less space on disk, which isn't really significant on most desktop computers but is quite significant on portable media players such as iPods
        4) the average person doesn't notice an audible difference between 128kbps AAC and lossless

        Given #4, the demand for higher quality really isn't as strong as you expect, especially in light of #2 and #3. Throw in #1, and it's a no-brainer.
    • Too bad CD Baby won't take care of the accounting when it comes to cover songs. Last time I checked the Harry Fox Agency wanted monthly statements for online sales of covers. This can be a pain in the ass for the small band who doesn't have someone doing their books full-time. Pressing discs and paying royalties is easy--make a thousand discs, pay $X to Harry Fox up front and you're covered for those discs. CD Baby is doing a great job of getting discs out there, and I think the idea of them being the middl
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:06PM (#15598719) Homepage Journal
    The web is a venue that can accomodate the entirety of print, recorded music and film (along with facimilies of painting, sculpture and architecture). Before the web the venues were able at best to accomodate a limited slice of any one genre and had to be financially supported or make a profit.

    As a first step to experiencing this universal availability the purveyors of the various works will pay sites that manage to attract a profitable slice of people seeking to experience a new (or old) genre.These 'cool people' who act as conduits to rediscovered works should be pushed aside when search engines can easily provide stepping stones from work/artist to another. For example there are major works by J. Hydan, Mozart and Beethoven that each draw on the same musical source, (I believe it's Mozart's 40th, Beethoven's 5th and a source work from Hydan I can't immediately recall). Once the web is in full swing a neophyte to any genre will be able to hop, skip and jump through the various tenuous associated works with an ease that unthinkable before the web.

    I've posted in the past that the best way to circumvent the attacks of copyright holders on the open imaginative playground that is the web is to float on the web the entirety of folklore in terms of folk music and folktales that would present an ocean of prior art from which most modern works have drawn their inspriation.

    The web in a way becomes the framework for players of Das Glasperlenspiel [wikipedia.org].

    • the best way to circumvent the attacks of copyright holders ... present an ocean of prior art from which most modern works have drawn their inspriation.

      What does prior art have to do with copyright? Patents, sure, but copyright?

      • /. Story, Thu Nov 03, '05 11:28 PM [slashdot.org]

        "The USPTO will issue the first storyline patent in history today [CC], with two others following in the next few months. Right to Create points out [CC] that this was anticipated several months ago [CC] in a story by Richard Stallman published in the The Guardian, UK. With the publication of this not-yet-granted patent, its author can begin requiring licensing fees for anyone whose activities might fall within its claims, including book authors, movie studies, televisio

  • Long tail (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This sounds great to me, although not exactly a new thing. If you haven't read about the "Long Tail" phenomenon you might be interested in these two articles:

    Chris Anderson's article in Wired: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html [wired.com]
    A Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_tail [wikipedia.org]
  • Yeah, but where is the original "Hair" soundtrack from the mid 70's? Or, an original "Fiddler on the Roof"?

    I've got Hair on LP but I don't own a turntable anymore...Damn, I'm getting old...but at least I don't have any 8-tracks.
    • Re:Soundtracks? (Score:2, Informative)

      by HyperBlazer ( 830880 )

      Yeah, but where is the original "Hair" soundtrack from the mid 70's? Or, an original "Fiddler on the Roof"?

      I've got Hair on LP but I don't own a turntable anymore

      1968, not mid-70s (assuming you're referring to the Broadway soundtrack). And it's right here [amazon.com]. If what you want is the 1978 movie, you can get the DVD [amazon.com], but I don't know why you would want to.

      • Okay, so you're the man/woman. I ordered it. And I remember it as mid '70's because that's when my parents went to see it in Philly when I was in about 5th grade. And, screw the movie...the music is where it's at...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As a music lover and a computer geek, you'll be happy to know that Numark's recently come out with a Turntable with USB interface [numark.com]. It's a bit pricey at $300US, but you can get it at Musician's Friend [musiciansfriend.com] for $170. Still to expensive for me, but that's mostly because I'm broke.

      Besides, my local Guitar Center (same store, different name) requires me to give my address and phone if I want to use my debit card (for "security reasons"... yeah, right).

      I also don't know how Linux compatible it is. It ships with a fr

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:18PM (#15598755) Journal
    Most people DON'T realize that punk (no I don't mean Green Day.. think SST records, anything through Blacklist Mailorder from MRR...etc) a lot of music was/is only available on 7 inch vinyl. Because the young uns today don't know what a reecord is.. (it's what we all listened to before CDs).

    Digitizing this stuff in not only a way to preserve it but to also turn the kids on what started a lot today's great bands because today's kids always need edumacatin' about music. (Well every generation does in it's time)
    • No kidding. I have about 400-500 7"s on a shelf here from when I used to DJ in college. Maybe 50 of those songs were ever released on CD. And most of that is early to mid 90s stuff, so it's not like CDs weren't being made at the time...
    • Really now, how many people, including young people, truly have no idea what a vinyl record is? The concept isn't nearly as foreign as it might seem, particularly when the average public and school library is still chocked full of vinyl records. You really think school systems are going back and replacing all of their copies of "Peter and the Wolf" with CD's or MP3's? Hell no.

      Most kids know what a horse and buggy are, even though they've probably never ridden on one. Same goes for records.

      Oh... and

      • I knew at least one. About a decade ago, a 15-year-old was listening to a conversation I was having with his mother. I mentioned that I had several 45's, to which he said that he didn't know I was a gun collector.
      • Really now, how many people, including young people, truly have no idea what a vinyl record is?
        A few days ago, I showed my 11 years old son a vinyl record and asked if he had ever seen one of those.

        He had once:
        His teacher had one day brought a record player and a vinyl record with her to school to show it to the pupils.

        I don't think we can expect that all children are that lucky, so a lot of them probably never saw a vinyl record.
  • Somebody [gethasselh...umber1.com] is attempting to use this type of publicity to get David Hasselhoff to #1 in the UK music charts.

  • The future (Score:3, Funny)

    by Hao Wu ( 652581 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:22PM (#15598760) Homepage
    The demand to revive Edison cylinders is enormous.

    Apple iMS promises to sell very soon - AAC coded to analogue format.

    • Re:The future (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MsGeek ( 162936 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:22PM (#15598920) Homepage Journal
      Actually if you go to Archive.Org the entire collection of the Edison National Historic Site is available for guilt-free 100% free download. When the Cartoon Geeks Podcast [blogspot.com] was looking for theme music, I went there and found the song that we're now using, Sensation Jazz [archive.org] by the Jazz All Stars. It was recorded in 1919 for Edison, and features the xylophonist who later would go on to play on Disney's first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie [youtube.com], and the later Disney classic The Skeleton Dance [youtube.com].

      Also, when I had clearance problems for a song I wanted to use for a video I put up on You Tube, I replaced it with another piece from the Edison collection, a version of "Ride of the Valkyries" done by the Edison Symphony Orchestra. Again, found on Archive.Org.

      It is ironic these recordings are now in the public domain, because Hollywood was founded on an intellectual property dispute. The dispute was between Thomas Edison and the Motion Picture Patents Trust and people like Carl Laemmle and Cecil B. DeMille who didn't want to pay the toll Edison wanted to extract on his invention. Edison probably would have loved the current IP climate, and would probably be a big supporter of the MPAA and RIAA.

      Archive.Org is an amazing place.
  • Finally... (Score:3, Funny)

    by creimer ( 824291 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:23PM (#15598764) Homepage
    I can do something with my collection of eight-track tapes.
  • Failure to adapt. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @10:40PM (#15598804)
    As radio-music listenership declines, the industry finds itself spending more time courting a broader field of tastemakers who, through Web sites, are popularizing songs that never get radio play.

    If only the radio industry could begin to realize that people do *NOT* like to listen to the same 7 songs over and over again throughout the day with the occasional "older" song thrown in to attempt to trick everyone.

    If they could instead harness what we really want to hear (podcasts, *true* variety (across genres and decades), and less pointless commercials). It's obvious, through the success of podcasting and sat radio, that the formats they have been using in the past are done.

    It's amazing to me that they are so slow to adapt as they watch their numbers fall.
    • Re:Failure to adapt. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:36PM (#15598959) Journal
      Yeah, except the unfortunate reality seems to be, the "general public" doesn't seem to REALLY want as much variety as they pay lip-service to wanting.

      Don't believe me? Try a little experiment sometime. Ask someone if they're "tired of hearing the same old music over and over" on the radio. 10 to 1 says they'll say "Hell yeah!" Then, ask them if they can name 20 or 30 bands (or even songs!) that they wish their favorite station would add to their playlist.

      My guess is, most people will be able to name maybe 3-5 and then draw a blank... or else their list will consist of music very similar to what's already being played. (In some cases, they'll name a lot of songs or artists that the station already played in the past, but just sort of let slide off their playlist in recent years due to dwindling popularity.)

      We had a classic rock station here in town that did something pretty unique... They turned control over to the DJs to play *anything* they wanted to play, as long as it fit in the overall format. (Basically, it was a last ditch attempt by management to turn the station around, since they were getting killed in ratings by a long-standing classic rock competitor just past them on the FM dial.) They started playing a LOT of obscure stuff, including stacks of old LPs that one of the DJs said he was bringing in from his large personal record collection, and from albums dug out of his parents' attic. Within a year or so, they were bought out and now they play mainstream country music. People just didn't stay tuned-in when they flipped through stations and heard totally unfamiliar music.

      By contrast, we've got a hip-hop station here that I swear only plays, at most, 10 different songs at a time. Nonetheless, a LOT of people have that garbage cranked up on their car and home stereos all over town. Even my g/f listens to it. I can't figure out how someone can't get sick and tired of the same few songs in endless rotation - but I guess they just don't leave the radio on for long periods of time at once. There almost seems to be a certain comfort in knowing they can flip to the station and hear exactly the small set of songs they expect to hear from it.
      • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @12:19AM (#15599071) Homepage Journal

        the "general public" doesn't seem to REALLY want as much variety as they pay lip-service to wanting. ... , ask [a friend] if they can name 20 or 30 bands (or even songs!) that they wish their favorite station would add to their playlist. My guess is, most people will be able to name maybe 3-5 and then draw a blank... or else their list will consist of music very similar to what's already being played.

        The poor service your friends receive is not indicate narrow tastes. You can't discover what you like if you are never exposed to it and the way the RIAA world works, you will never be exposed to much outside a few "target" audience cities. To really get a feel for how broad people's tastes are, you have to understand what's wrong and what others have done to fix the problem. The way you are looking at it is insulting and does your friends a big disservice.

        First, why radio music sucks so hard. The RIAA charges so much for the few songs they let radio stations play that the average station can only have a thousand or two songs on hand, and they have to be vetted carefully. How are they vetted? From sales in "target" cities. Most radio stations won't take any risks with anything but sales prooven music. Notice the catch was the high price to begin with. Between the $500,000 FCC license fee and RIAA music fee's the broadcaster does not have much choice either. As downhill battle points out, the money is NOT going to the artists. Yeah, the result can narrow your friends music tastes - appreciation comes from experience and the rude are well .... rude.

        Now what's been done that's different? Plenty! and that's what the article is all about, though they seem to have forgotten all about the pioneers. Exposure is easy when you share your playlists. Napster, MP3.com and anyone who got into online content distribution in the 90's understood this. People's tastes are much much broader than the old RIAA model could ever support - that's why they killed all the early music services and are desperate to take over the entire internet and your personal computer. Decentralized distribution will put power and money back into artist's hands and local labels. The Big Three Music Publishers are fighting for their lives.

        Don't believe that people's tastes really broaden when they are given choices and guidance? Ask the people at net flicks how many of the entire 60,000 DVD library is rented out on any given day. Think 1,000? You are off by factor of three ... and an order magnitude. That's right, more than half of the catalog is rented every day! People's demand for variety is something physical distribution can not keep up with.

        • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @12:45AM (#15599137)
          You can't discover what you like if you are never exposed to it

          I hate to smash your faith in humanity and the arts but he was right; Most people don't WANT to find something new. Most people are happy to listen to the same songs over and over. Most people don't buy a lot of music (and I'm not talking about Kazaa users either). Most people don't know Led Zeppelin from Pearl Jam. Check out your radio dial. Alternative* stations are small for a reason; low listenership. People would rather listen to old disco "hits" than to try out new music.

          The RIAA charges so much for the few songs they let radio stations play that the average station can only have a thousand or two songs on hand

          I'm not an expert here so please forgive any misunderstandings: First, I'm fairly sure that it's BMI not RIAA that handles the costs to radio stations for broadcasting rights. Secondly, I'm also fairly sure that less popular songs go for a cheaper price. A station could bolster their playlist by playing unknown songs that cost less per play.

          I think what part of it is is that people are more likely to use radio as background noise to keep them company than they are to really listen to it. Satellite radio sells their service based on the idea of a familiar playlist and the fact that it's commercial free. Sure, the commercial free part of it is probably the lead selling point but I think the familure format of the station makes it very comfortable to most subscribers.
          • It seems I jumped the gun a tad with the "submit" button. I wanted to explain the "Alternative*" bit: This isn't a refrence to AlternaTrend (the comfortable lable put on such fine bands as NIN, Blink 187 and Velvet Revolver) but rather a refrence to stations that play the really off beat sounds, normally these are college stations but there are some truely independent commercial stations in the mix too.
        • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @01:53AM (#15599316) Journal
          I agree with your comments about music-sharing services on the net destroying the RIAA's business model.... but I don't think I can agree with some of what you're saying.
          For starters, I don't think it's at all "insulting" to analyze the situation the way I have. It's not really an issue of people being totally "unexposed" to anything but what the big radio stations (and presumably the RIAA by extension?) want them to hear.

          People have *many* opportunities to explore and hear all sorts of music. If they stay locked into a very narrow view of what's "good", that's by their own choice. For example, I don't need a local radio station to play classical music in order to develop an appreciation for it. I could go to the symphony hall and hear it performed live, if I liked, or I could get my hands on any number of records, tapes, CDs or DVDs of classical performances. Even my public library lets me check them out for free. I've even heard it played on piano a fair number of times over dinner at various nicer restaurants in town.

          It's also not really a fair comparison, in my opinion, to compare video rentals to music listening habits. People who are avid enough of movie watchers to consider signing up with a service like Netflix are already more likely than average to explore a wide range of films. Hollywood only puts out so many films at a time. (On average, you have what? Maybe 2-3 new DVD releases per week?) People who watch movies on a regular basis often watch as many as 2 or 3 movies over just one weekend, and maybe a few more during the week. They easily "burn through" watching whatever the latest, hyped-up new releases are - and have to seek out other material.

          With music, people also listen to the same songs over and over if they like them. Far fewer people watch the same movies over and over. (Even people who buy movies on DVD as opposed to renting them for a night or two usually just enjoy having them in their personal collections for the sake of collecting. They take pride in having a nice selection for their friends to borrow or view when they come over more than owning them for many repeat viewings themselves.)
          • I don't think it's at all "insulting" to analyze the situation the way I have. ... People have *many* opportunities to explore and hear all sorts of music. If they stay locked into a very narrow view of what's "good", that's by their own choice. [list of expensive and time consuming ways to get music].

            Essentially, what you are saying is that the RIAA way is good enough for everyone. What your recommended was an insulting test, which would reveal how poorly the RIAA works and trying to convince your frie

            • Ok, at this point, maybe it's not even worth replying - except I'm at a loss here.... You're saying my "list of expensive and time consuming ways to get music" included such "costly" things as checking out music for FREE from a local library, or listening to someone's live piano performance when you're out in public someplace?

              If you ask me, the only insulting thing is making the assumption that people aren't capable of exploring any new options for music unless the mainstream radio stations start playing i
              • I'm at a loss here.... You're saying my "list of expensive and time consuming ways to get music" included such "costly" things as checking out music for FREE from a local library, or listening to someone's live piano performance when you're out in public someplace? If you ask me, the only insulting thing is making the assumption that people aren't capable of exploring any new options for music unless the mainstream radio stations start playing it for them.

                I'm not sure what you lost. Going to the libra

                • Having once played in a local band myself (all original music that I'd guess you'd loosely categorize as "alternative rock"), I think I know a little bit about the "musicians clamoring to put their music in front of people" and finding it difficult.

                  I also think that as I've stepped back from actively being involved in that "scene", I've come to realize that it's a perpetual and universal complaint among musicians. I'm also not so sure there's any real "failure" of the system involved with it. Selling your
    • If only the radio industry could begin to realize that people do *NOT* like to listen to the same 7 songs over and over again throughout the day with the occasional "older" song thrown in to attempt to trick everyone.

      Whenever I listen to a radio, I listen to Studio Brussel.
      stream [streampower.be] Program scheme [stubru.be] Playlist [stubru.be]

      However, as I mostly listen to my radio in the car, I got fed up with the talking all the time, so instead I listen to audiobooks instead. Buy the CDs, burn them to mp3 and play them. A ncie one is LotR [amazon.com]
    • If only the radio industry could begin to realize that people do *NOT* like to listen to the same 7 songs over and over again throughout the day with the occasional "older" song thrown in to attempt to trick everyone.

      Many people make the mistake of thinking that commercial radio treats the listeners as their market, and simply doesn't know how to properly serve that market. This is, as I'm given to understand, not the case. Listeners are not the market - they are the product. Advertisers are the marke

    • First, a preface .... this is not a commercial plug, because I will not be giving out any information that would enable anybody to contact me (I'm still developing the system. It works, but is not commercial quality)

      Sitting here right now, I have just over 100,000 tunes on my server. Yes, they are all legal (those that COULD be legal .... I have some music that is now PD, stuff from the '20s, etc, that just plain isn't available any more). The largest collections I have are (in this order) Blues, Jazz, an
  • by caffiend2049 ( 984834 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:05PM (#15598873)
    It's my opinion that every song ever recorded should be available via digital distribution. The main thing keeping this from happening is that it is virtually impossible to get all the companies that own the majority of rights to recordings to come to an agreement on anything. Although I have no solution to that particular fiasco, I think a great way to price things would be on with a sliding scale that puts a premium on popularity. A good part of the revenue from current downloads is from the top couple hundred most popular. Now if the cost of those was pushed up to $2-3, it would allow for download of more obscure tunes for pennies. Thos out-of-print, "unpopular" songs cannot support premium pricing; but, seeing as they are unavailable in stores, (not profitable enough to waste the shelf space) ANY income that they do generate is purely gravy. Now if a particular song experiences a resurgence based on new attention, this upswing in popularity would be reason enough to bump it into a higher cost bracket. Now maybe it costs $.25 to buy instead of $.05. Prices could be adjusted weekly (or some other increment) with the most popular song costing maybe $3-4 and the least being like $.05. I think this would be a huge incentive to legally download songs and the owners would make scads more money than they already do. It could also be interesting how playing the market might develop wherein there would be runs on songs to drive up the price, hedging that you could get a song cheaper in a week or two, and all the other fun stuff that comes from dealing in a regulated market.
  • 2700 records? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nybble's Byte ( 321886 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:07PM (#15598883) Journal
    I have far more than that number in my personal collection and don't plan to stop buying vinyl any time in the foreseeable future. There's just too much good music out there. And another 5000 albums they're going to add still doesn't scratch the surface (pun intended) as to what's available. And guess what, LPs continue to sell reasonably well even though it's a niche market, while CD sales have dropped. There is always a demand for quality, and MP3s are just the opposite. Back in the early 80s the CD was supposed to be 'perfect sound forever', and we know all too well that's not true, otherwise DVD-A and SACD wouldn't exist.
    • Back in the early 80s the CD was supposed to be 'perfect sound forever', and we know all too well that's not true, otherwise DVD-A and SACD wouldn't exist.

      It's more likely that DVD-A and SACD wouldn't exist if the Redbook Audio Specification for CDs included Digital [wikipedia.org] Restrictions [wikipedia.org] Management [wikipedia.org]

    • Back in the early 80s the CD was supposed to be 'perfect sound forever', and we know all too well that's not true, otherwise DVD-A and SACD wouldn't exist.

      For the most part DVD-A and SACD are a joke. Sure, to a very small segment of audiophiles it matters but consider that most people don't have the hearing to notice the difference between CD and SACD nor do most people own the right output device to make a difference. Sure, MP3 is a degraded sound format (and so is CDA) but when you consider the crappy "
    • That threw me for a loop for a moment myself till I read the article. That block is just copy & pasted nd talking about one company's catalog in particular.
  • by offaxis ( 573745 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:35PM (#15598957)
    Gibson touched on this issue (the diminishing temporal correlation between artists and their fan-base) in his 1996 novel, Idoru.
  • by sciencecneisc ( 980820 ) on Saturday June 24, 2006 @11:58PM (#15599014)
    As much as I want access to new classics to discover I dread re-buying my cassettes in DRM'ed low bitrate lossy files. Normal Apple Lossless files are all I ask...I'm already intrigued but I have no interest in ever buying this material again and there's no reason in the world why I need to accept lower quality when much better is possible (they are indeed using the source materials many times when converting these files).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I always find this argument amusing. You do realize that even a 128kbps mp3 file has better dynamic range than a cassette tape moving at 1-7/8 inches per second, right? Next I'm sure you'll bring up the artifacting that can happen with mp3 encoding. If the signal is properly lowpass filtered, then you won't get any of the harsh sound in the high end. What most people don't realize is that tracks are mastered once for CD, again for tape, and then again for vinyl, each time taking the characteristics of the m
      • Perhaps he'd rather buy them on CD than have a lossy compressed file. I would. There is so much loss of resolution in MP3 and ogg/vorbis files.

        For some of us, these lossily-compressed files are a big step backwards. Now that flash memory is becoming very cheap and broadband is ubiquitous, there's no need for lossy compression. FLAC does a good enough job.

        Over the years, as disk space becomes cheaper, I've been ripping my CDs to FLAC and recoding to MP3 or ogg/vorbis as required. I listen to FLAC on my Pee

  • Did anyone notice the trackback to a blog named Fuckthemusic.biz [fuckthemusic.biz].

    It's pretty juvenile of me, but I thought it was hilarious to see the word "fuck" in the Washington Post.
  • by adam872 ( 652411 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @01:50AM (#15599308)
    Chris Anderson of Wired magazine describes this as the "Long Tail Effect", where the availability of search engines and easy means to get at obscure material, be it music, books or whatever, opens up previously unavailable markets. He's even written a book about it. It just baffles me why the RIAA and MPAA have pursued the policies they have in terms of very aggressive enforcement against end users, when the technologies these people use have actually led to independent and obscure artists getting more exposure! I am 100% in favour of the artists getting paid for their work, but perhaps it's time for the old media companies to address their business models and move with the times?

    If they want go after someone, go after the pirated media industry in Asia. I live in SE Asia and I can tell you that it's harder to get a legal copy of a DVD or CD than it is an illegal one. That's arse backwards. They could start by making iTunes and their competitors available here. That might make a difference. And perhaps pressuring the governments to better enforce IP and copyright law (that they have signed international treaties on).
    • RIAA is enforcing against end users for the same reason it wants internet streaming stopped and satellite radio sharply curtailed in what it can offer: RIAA fears the fragmentization of its marketplace that is going on. In their ideal world, the listener's only way of hearing new music is through the FM outlets that they're able to keep in line. Then they can focus their marketing on a handful of CDs that would sell in the millions. But now, people are finding out there's more out there than the pablum t
    • And perhaps pressuring the governments to better enforce IP and copyright law (that they have signed international treaties on).

      Oh, they do [ustr.gov]. Some countries seem to still live under the illusion that they are sovereign states and not obliged to let the MPAA draft their IP legislation, but a little trade sanctions can work wonders in rectifying that minor error.

      And you probably should read this book [ala.org], it may revise your impression about that "signed treaties" thing.

  • by Shrithe ( 972491 )
    "The fun of collecting is gone," said Michael Crowley, who said he spent his childhood hunting for bootlegged copies of obscure acts in hidden-away record shops run by edgy people with nose rings. "They're not that fun if you can download them with a few mouse clicks," said Crowley, a Washington journalist who wrote about the rock snob's demise by digital music for the New Republic.

    I don't find this to be true at all. There's plenty of obscure albums which I remain unable to find on bittorrent, despite cont
  • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:09AM (#15599362)
    With the exception of those few cases where an author has decided to pull a work from production, the whole concept of something being "out of print" is, to my thinking, something of an abuse of the legal monopoly of copyright protection, especially given the greater-than-a-human-lifetime spans of copyrights these days. A piece of music will typically go out of print after only a small percentage of its copyright period, and for the rest of that period, neither the original creator nor the public can get any value out of it. Not because both sides don't want to, but because they have no way to do so after rights have been signed over to a publisher.

    The whole "orphaned works" problem is a special case of this phenomenon.

    It also encourages piracy. A few weeks ago I was looking for a particular piece of foreign music from the early 90s. I searched lots of stores, both used and new, for a copy of the album in question. A few stores had it in their listings but, you guessed it, "out of print." I wasted hours looking for a legitimate copy of the music. Then I went to a pirate MP3 search engine and found it within minutes. If there were some way for me to buy it, I would. (I have no good way of tracking down the artist to send her a small payment.) I was fully ready to pay import CD prices to get it. And if it should come back into print at some point, I will buy it. Meanwhile, I get to enjoy it thanks to piracy.

    Now, I'm sure someone will tell me how I'm robbing the artist here, getting a copy of her song without her permission -- but do you honestly think most out-of-print musicians say, "I'm so glad nobody can get my music any more! When I signed that contract for my album I really hoped the publisher would stop selling it some day. I'd rather nobody listen to my old music than someone listen to it when there's no way for them to pay me."

  • i live in new york city, and the evolution of my musical taste has been from american pop to... asian and european pop. i like my empty headed music in a language i can't understand damnit! ;-)

    and for those of you who say that stealing from foreign conglomerates, i mean, er, artists is just the same as stealing from american cartels, i mean er, artists, please first tell me how the heck i would have been exposed to these artists in the first place were it not for free music sharing online?

    figure that one ou
  • by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @02:38AM (#15599425) Homepage
    I was just thinking about this subject the other day as I perused the BMG catalog. If you're not familiar, BMG are the folks behind the "Get 11 records free when you purchase one" gimmick. The way they are able to offer this is by licensing the music from the record labels and pressing CDs themselves. You'll see some type of disclaimer printed on the disc to that effect. While I managed to find a number of discs I wanted (sonic youth, ween, helmet . . .) I was dismayed their catalog lacked depth. For instance, I've been listening to some BIlly Cobham lately (a phenomenal drummer sampled by DJ Shadow, Massive Attack and others) and would love it if I could get one of his records through a service like this.

    Of course, manufacturing costs would probably be prohibitive for large pressings but with digital distribution and one-off pressing, there's some money to be made. Incidentally, I checked on iTunes music store and was surprised to find a large part of his discography available. To boot, most of the albums were less than $8, a surprise considering I thought all albums were at least 9.99. I also was surprised by their "collections" service, which is a type of curated playlist. The breakbeat collection, at least was fairly extensive. I may wind up going with iTMS but would prefer unencumbered Mp3s. Actually, considering I've already downloaded most of the MP3s, I just wish there was a simple escrow service where I could toss some bucks directly to the artist--consider it a hat on a digital street ; )

    • The way they are able to offer this is by licensing the music from the record labels and pressing CDs themselves.

      No, they sell the same CD pressings as anyone else. Your source may have been confused by the fact that in addition to having a mail-order CD club, they are also a record label - the second largest in the world. So, of course they press their own CD's - every label does.

      There are a couple reasons that they are able to offer lower prices. First, by dealing directly with the customer they cut out t
    • I may wind up going with iTMS but would prefer unencumbered Mp3s

      It doesn't sound like you have tried out emusic [emusic.com].

      It may or may not be what you are looking for, but based on your post, it sounds like it is worth checking out...

  • Sure, 5,000 is a lot to listen to at one setting, but compare that to the potential back catalog that's nothing. Records have been produced for a hundred years, even counting the ones that are out of copyright there must be hundreds of thousands of recordings setting on shelves somewhere... I'd guess Sony's out of print Jazz catalog would be tens of thousands of albums...
  • Dead right (Score:2, Insightful)

    He's spot on. I downloaded a truck load of music recently (just felt the urge), probably less that 20% of it was from this century with many of the songs going back as far as the 60's (long(ish) before I was born). With online downloads available I can get all the great tunes that make up my tape collection (remember tapes[cassettes]? No?). And it ain't just old stuff, a lot of what I buy online I just can't get at my local stores because it's not popular enough.
  • I think there is a great opportunity out there for serious/classical (meaning anything from Bach to Messiaen to Reich to... ) music as well as popular music.

    Leaving copyright questions aside for the moment, I'd love to have digital recordings available from college orchestras (or small city bands, or whatever) of such works. In some cases, I'd like to have a pile of recordings of a single piece - just to compare and contrast. (For example, I'd like to hear any recorded performance of Steve Reich's "Mus

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