End The Loudness Wars


Much of popular music these days is overly compressed, by the motto, whoever screams the loudest gets heard. Music isn’t supposed to be a shouting match — maybe it’s time to re-address this issue. I found this at KVRaudio:

“In January 2009, The Pleasurize Music Foundation launched a wide-ranging initiative for ending the “Loudness War” being waged by successive music releases. This initiative aims to introduce a dynamic standard through several phases. The free TT Dynamic Range Meter plug-in (and stand-alone app.) makes it possible to provide releases with a whole-number dynamic value to be printed on the recording medium as a logo, giving consumers an immediate means of knowing the dynamic quality of a recording. It is currently available as a VST effect plug-in for Windows with Mac OS X, RTAS and AU versions expected to be released later this year.”

With the advent of so much amazing DAW software, overcompression is now also in the hands of independent music makers everywhere. So this issue is not only about the big bad record labels anymore, but about many music makers who are using mastering plugins.

Magnatune – label of the future?

This is a really interesting label – for remixers in more than one way: As a potential source of remixing materials as well as a destination for distributing one’s music. In their own words: “Magnatune is a music/business experiment that has never yet been tried. We’re doing our best to make it succeed, but it may not. If we don’t make you any money, we think we can get you some exposure, it won’t cost you anything, and we won’t limit your future options.”

And explaining the concept of Open Music: “Open Music is music that is shareable, available in “source code” form, allows derivative works and is free of cost for non-commercial use. It is the concept of “open source” computer software applied to music.”

I have no idea if this model can generate meaningful revenue, but it most certainly looks like it can facilitate the creation of great music. But there’s a lot that seems right about this. Definitely worth checking out: Magnatune

Remixing each other

EDITORIAL:
The musical talent pool now has technology in their own little studios, which only a few years ago were only accessible to artists who had good financing (by record companies or other sources).

That means many more people are learning how to record, produce, remix, etc. with rather little money spent. This in turn spawned the evolution of a high end amateur producer scene, blurring the boundary between amateur and professional. Similar events have disrupted and shaped other areas including computer software, photography, astronomy to just name a few.

And it means the arrival of large numbers of producers on the music scene. Once you have a moderately decent home studio you can become a producer. Producers who aren’t always performers. Or great performers who love producing. These producers can make remarkable music. Some are arriving from a DJ angle, some more from a performer angle.

Remixing is essentially a form of producing. Originally remixing was an afterthought – a second production, a remake with at least some of the tracks of the original production.

But I think remixing can be more than just an afterthought – it can be a refreshingly different model of creating recorded music.

Remixing is a form of sequential collaboration, allowing more people to make something into a better overall product, without having to be at the same place simultaneously and without having to agree all the time. Remixing avoids band internal fights. Remixing allows simultaneous parallel versions. Remixing makes the whole participating community better.

Some of the big acts these days are produced technically in a remixing way. But it’s still very much a controlled process with a lot of licensing control and issues. But what if we would give up control and make remixing much more open? What if we didn’t predetermine, who was going to produce what and when? What if we started recording song sketches and then let the remixers at it? Songs could become many different things simultaneously. Some of them will suck – just like much of the stuff we get fed by former MMC members, TV contest winners and corporate rock bands. And some of the remixes will be amazing, something we would have never thought of, special pieces of music. Maybe we could call that “extreme mixing”. The opening up of the production process to wide participation.

What’s wrong with remixing? Only one thing: It’s not easy to craft a somewhat fair, yet efficient economic model around it.

So remixing has tremendous artistic value potential, but we don’t know (yet) how to handle the economics of it.

I submit: Let’s NOT have the economics stop us from pursuing a good thing.

So I encourage everyone: write and record songs, make remix packs for others, and remix others. Writing songs and making remix packs is hard, but it puts you into the most valuable part of value chain! So there’s an upside for the extra work.

If you want to reserve the right to make money later, you can protect potential future economic interests by licensing under creative commons non-commercial, attribution, share-alike type of licenses. Or even allow commercial exploitation — if your work gets a great reputation, money has a chance of following in a variety of ways.

In the software business this has become quite common with open source licenses. And many people and companies who are opening their stuff up have still found ways of generating revenue. Not everyone, but many. There will always be people who do stuff for a living and others who do it without making money at it. So that doesn’t change. But whether you want to make money with it, or not, at least try something new! In software, one of the key successes was that open source licensing allowed people to build upon each other’s work or to take a piece of work into a new direction. That created a body of excellence previously unknown. The Internet became what it is, in large part, because of open source software. Will remixing do the same thing for music? I think it can!

Of course, if you are already have a major label deal, abandoning your currently successful business models is a scary thing to do. And maybe it’s not the right thing for your individual situation. However for most of us, what do we have to loose?

Therefore I say, let’s remix each other and see what we can do. Build on each other’s work and make something brilliant!

Internet Archive: Audio Archive

I should mention one of the significant audio resources on the web, the Internet Archive: Audio Archive: “This collection ranges from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry recordings, to original music contributed by users.”

This site is significant as source for some very interesting audio material as well as a place to host musical works. Much material there is under a variety of creative commons style licenses, which make it easy to understand, which material can be used for remixing, and under what conditions. Advantage of having one’s audio materials hosted there include the fact, that the free hosting includes well more then the common 4 or 5 song limits of many other sites. However, one needs to be a bit more technically comfortable, including the use of FTP to upload ones’ materials. The site isn’t as much a social networking site, but more like a library. And some of us may find that a welcome relief. 🙂