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A Lark Ascending

Is streaming technology saving the music industry?

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Record labels fucking over artists, one thing that definitely HASN'T changed.

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You'll know the paradigm has definitely shifted if Robert Fripp signs up to Spotify.

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Spotify is OK for 'casual' listening off of a portable device/I-Pad but for the sonics I'll stick with the physical medium, be it CD or vinyl, anytime.

Edited by sidewinder

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Spotify is also OK for 'focused' listening if you are not that bothered about sonics (I'm unfortunate/fortunate enough to hear no difference when listening between mp3/CD/streaming...I do hear a difference with vinyl...that bloody surface noise!) Having 'the best possible sound' does not automatically make you a better listener. I've known many a person with state of the art equipment but only a superficial interest in music (and many, like yourself, with a passion for the music - but it's not the type of technology that creates the passion).

There is an unfortunate tendency among some older listeners who grew up under earlier technologies to assume that as younger listeners have easy access to music, they can't be listening 'properly'.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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My understanding is that live gigs and touring is now the biggest money spinner and concert promoters and venues now give much better deals to the artists than previously. Money can be made, but you're not going to make it on album or download sales. On Sexmob's last CD Cinema, Circus & Spaghetti, Steven Bernstein states that he thought he would never make another studio album as the state of the recording industry makes it unprofitable and he was content just doing the European circuit. They only did the album at the behest of promoters who wanted a new program.

In David Byrne's recent book How Music Works, there's a chapter on business models for musicians and he also gives a breakdown on the production costs and profits on his album with Brian Eno Everything That Happens. I think they made something like US $160.000 over a couple of years of sales (it may have been less, I will need to check) between them. Now, that CD was produced in his home studio and not in a recording studio with session musicians, if it had, then it would unlikely to have made any money at all.

But the liberating and revolutionary quality of these new technologies is that they allow you to create albums in the home - well, depends on what type of band you are. There was an interview I saw not so long back with Glen Gregory and Martyn Ware of the electronic synth band Heaven 17, where they stated the last album they did was basically done in the home bedroom studio of one of them. They said they had to be careful when the binmen were around and noise of traffic, but they said the cost savings compared to how much it would have cost in the "old studio system" was phenomenal. Of course, if you're in a big band or nonet then this might not be the ideal and be too restricting. For some, this new world is going to open doors that were previously closed in terms of costs, unless you got a big advance to produce an album.

The new business model seems to be that Spotify is good at introducing people to new music, but the musician is not necessarily going to make any real money unless they tour constantly. If studio recordings are no longer profitable, then the big grandiose produced studio albums recorded over several months are also dead. Some may say, that this is a good thing.

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Sound: Importance of stereo system (High End, State of the Art) is overrated. Crucial is sound quality of CD.

Two points in general: I´m glad there is streaming technology and services because you can discover and listen to complete recordings..

Lateley I´ve been doing more streaming.But I cherish my collection of records and still buy regularly and too much

. Two reasons:They make me independent of any company and cloud service.

And it´s a pleasure to leafe through booklets and study artwork, graphics, liner notes.

Those things are as dear to me as my collection of books.

And if want to listen intensly I do so by using my stereo.So to me it´s not either/or: I am using both: streaming service and home stereo.

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Spotify is OK for 'casual' listening off of a portable device/I-Pad but for the sonics I'll stick with the physical medium, be it CD or vinyl, anytime.

I'd be interested in hearing the full version of Spotify streaming at 320kbps.

If it's a true 320 by the time it gets to you (I suppose your internet speed would play the largest role), there will be no discernable difference between it and CD.

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Spotify is OK for 'casual' listening off of a portable device/I-Pad but for the sonics I'll stick with the physical medium, be it CD or vinyl, anytime.

I'd be interested in hearing the full version of Spotify streaming at 320kbps.

If it's a true 320 by the time it gets to you (I suppose your internet speed would play the largest role), there will be no discernable difference between it and CD.

I listen to Spotify (£9.99 PCM) over my hifi. A Sonos media renderer outputs to a Moon DAC, then to my Class A amp and finally over speakers. Spotify can sound very good on the best recordings which have been mastered well. Quick A/B comparison does show that CD sound has greater depth and more "air" around instruments. There's better separation between instruments. How clearly this difference is heard does depend on the original recording. I've been using Spotify about 5 months. I'm not buying less music on physical formats.

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Hmmmm...

Then it obviously still can't match an actual download then.

What is your download speed?

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Here is a relevant quote from the Byrne book, fwiw:

“What is called the music business today, however, is nothing like what I researched before signing that first contract. In fact, the music business is hardly even in the business of producing music anymore. At some point, it became primarily the business of selling objects—LPs, cassettes, CDs in plastic cases—and that business will soon be over.”
The chapter then goes on to discuss the nature of music and music retailing in a social and historical context. Recommended.

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Hmmmm...

Then it obviously still can't match an actual download then.

What is your download speed?

30Mb/s

I don't think that's the limiting factor.

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just as an aside, with Field Recordings (and also my blues set), there was an overwhelming preference for actual CDs over downloads. I think, however, part of reason was that I priced both of them so as to make it cheaper to buy them than to download.

now I do have a limited (though faithful) customer base. But this kind of approach (plus taking care of business) has allowed me to create a situation in which I can almost always beak even very quickly, and then make a little money.

for little guys like me that's very encouraging.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Hmmmm...

Then it obviously still can't match an actual download then.

What is your download speed?

30Mb/s

I don't think that's the limiting factor.

No, most definitely not. Something is going on though. I'll have to do a A->B with iTunes Radio and CD to see of there is a difference.

I rarely use streaming, but those bitrate numbers are at least intriguing. Though, based on what you've said it doesn't appear that you're getting a true 320 at the end user.

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Here is a relevant quote from the Byrne book, fwiw:

“What is called the music business today, however, is nothing like what I researched before signing that first contract. In fact, the music business is hardly even in the business of producing music anymore. At some point, it became primarily the business of selling objects—LPs, cassettes, CDs in plastic cases—and that business will soon be over.”
The chapter then goes on to discuss the nature of music and music retailing in a social and historical context. Recommended.

He makes a strong case that music will revert back to its origins of being a social construct without a physical presence. It is a good book and Byrne comes across as honest and without pretensions. He was pretty positive about downloads and streaming, but he has since changed his position on the likes of Spotify.

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There is an unfortunate tendency among some older listeners who grew up under earlier technologies to assume that as younger listeners have easy access to music, they can't be listening 'properly'.

Old-Fartism. It's a horrible disease, seems to mostly target middle-aged white men. Thankfully there is a natural cure and there is no escaping that cure. :lol:

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Spotify is OK for 'casual' listening off of a portable device/I-Pad but for the sonics I'll stick with the physical medium, be it CD or vinyl, anytime.

I'd be interested in hearing the full version of Spotify streaming at 320kbps.

If it's a true 320 by the time it gets to you (I suppose your internet speed would play the largest role), there will be no discernable difference between it and CD.

I listen to Spotify (£9.99 PCM) over my hifi. A Sonos media renderer outputs to a Moon DAC, then to my Class A amp and finally over speakers. Spotify can sound very good on the best recordings which have been mastered well. Quick A/B comparison does show that CD sound has greater depth and more "air" around instruments. There's better separation between instruments. How clearly this difference is heard does depend on the original recording. I've been using Spotify about 5 months. I'm not buying less music on physical formats.

Hmm - interesting. I'm not using Spotify via the hi-fi but if I did ever add a Naim net-enabled gizmo no doubt my 'position' on this might change.

For the moment, I'm happy to stay with things as they are. More than enough damn formats as it is !

Forgot to add that I'm too damn tight to splash out the £9.99 a month from Mosaic money. :lol: Not to mention that here in Wurzel-land we don't get 30MB/s, more like 2MB/s ;)

Edited by sidewinder

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My understanding is that live gigs and touring is now the biggest money spinner and concert promoters and venues now give much better deals to the artists than previously. Money can be made, but you're not going to make it on album or download sales.

The new business model seems to be that Spotify is good at introducing people to new music, but the musician is not necessarily going to make any real money unless they tour constantly.

I'm OK with this up to a certain extent. However, as I get older I am more keenly aware that to tour constantly/extensively takes a toll on the musicians themselves; they have families that probably want to see them at home on a consistent basis as well. I have a few musician aquantainces who are in their late 30s, early 40s, each with young sons and daughters. I can't imagine trying to raise a family while being on the road 6-8+ months a year (or more).

The pendulum has definitely swung the other way; artists are told to make their money ONLY through touring, and to expect nothing at all from their recordings. We need to have a better balance between album sales and touring earnings.

(I fully recognise that I am part of the problem. Although I try to support touring artists as much as I can when they are in town, I don't attend live gigs nearly as often as I used to. More problematic, I spend very little on music these days... between Spotify, YouTube, and the myriad trackers on the internet, I can get the music I seek for "free." I honestly wrestle with the ethical nature of all this...)

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I agree and disagree, but as the situation is in flux, so I think this confusion is permitted.

I miss the era when as a 10 year old, my grandparents knew who Adam Ant was and the video of Stand and Deliver was part of the shared experience of everyone. That's what is missing today, that power to reach everyone, and everbody have an opinion, good or bad has gone.

It's not missing everywhere. I saw Youssou Ndour in St Louis, Senegal in 1997, playing in the square in front of the regional governor's mansion. The whole of the town turned out; young, middle and old; rich and poor. I sat behind a group of elderly ladies in their seventies/eighties, dripping with gold, and they were singing along with the songs from his recent albums.

It's not from lack of choice - the entire panoply of western popular music is available there; jazz, reggae, soul, rap, salsa, pop. You hear it on the radio and TV, you see new releases advertised on lampposts, you only have to go to a different shop to get it.

I understand that. But this is a far more personalized society these days, and that goes for pretty much anything.

I mean, consider tattoos. It's almost impossible to find somebody that doesn't have one these days. But are they all the same? But you can't deny that tattoos are a prominant part of our culture.

Same thing with cell phones. Everyone has one, but are they all the same make and model? Do they all have the same apps? Hell, they usually don't even look the same because of all the personalized cases and covers... That still doesn't take away from the fact that they are an incredibly prominant part of our culture.

You bemoan the lack of collective appreciation or shared knowledge/experience, but those actually are examples of that. Just on a more generalized level.

I don't know anyone who has tattoos. I don't have a mobile phone; I can't be bothered to learn how to use them; a proper phone is good enough.

Oh, and I've been sticking earplugs in me earoles for thirty years or more, when I go out and about and no one's EVER asked what I'm listening to. Is it because I don't have a tattoo?

:D

MG

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We need to have a better balance between album sales and touring earnings.

I agree. But why are performers not getting a fair share? I'd gladly pay considerably more for my Spotify contract (far cheaper than what I used to spend on albums).

As Bragg argues, the major record companies seem to be major causes of this. A couple of recent articles:

US music licensing laws 'arcane and dysfunctional,' says RIAA chairman

US music copyright: 'It’s basically just a bunch of people fighting over money'

US examples but the problem of adjusting to new technology and allowing performers to make a living from their work is a worldwide issue.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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Whether we like it or not, the streaming is the (near) future of how vast majority of the music is to be consumed. Vinyl might still survive (and there has been a certain resurgence of vinyl in the last few years, as I understand), but downloads and CDs will be probably gone very soon as the streaming technology (for mobiles, in particular) develops further. Spotify has more than 10M paying customers already (and growing), so with their 70% royalty pay-off rate they will pay more than $1B in royalty fees this year. This is a lot of money, and if artists negotiate better deals with labels (or better, disintermediate them entirely), they would receive a large share of it.

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There are ways performers can make a bit more. Put out the main album in every format possible. But have a 'deluxe' version on your own site at a slight premium with extra gubbins (pictures, sleeve notes etc), outtakes etc. This will pull in the completists and the dedicated fanbase. (this is already being dome by some)

One sign of the times. The new Led Zeppelin remasters - not long ago something like that would have been CD/vinyl only for a few months, hitting download/streaming once the physical sales started to decline. They went straight to streaming with all their (aural) gubbins.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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From Spotify's website, this is how much the artist gets per stream on Spotify:

"Recently, these variables have led to an average “per stream” payout to rights holders of between $0.006 and $0.0084. This combines activity across our tiers of service. The effective average “per stream” payout generated by our Premium subscribers is considerably higher."

I think that pretty much leaves out any jazz or classical artists making more than a few CENTS, if they're lucky.

I don't know ONE jazz musician who makes a living from ONLY playing music today.

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From Spotify's website, this is how much the artist gets per stream on Spotify:

"Recently, these variables have led to an average “per stream” payout to rights holders of between $0.006 and $0.0084. This combines activity across our tiers of service. The effective average “per stream” payout generated by our Premium subscribers is considerably higher."

I think that pretty much leaves out any jazz or classical artists making more than a few CENTS, if they're lucky.

I don't know ONE jazz musician who makes a living from ONLY playing music today.

I have a good friend here in Vienna, an excellent saxophone player. He makes a living playing music. However, most of the time he plays the stuff that he does not like that much, but it is OK for him. Work is work, nobody says that you are supposed to enjoy every second of it.

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From Spotify's website, this is how much the artist gets per stream on Spotify:

"Recently, these variables have led to an average per stream payout to rights holders of between $0.006 and $0.0084. This combines activity across our tiers of service. The effective average per stream payout generated by our Premium subscribers is considerably higher."

I think that pretty much leaves out any jazz or classical artists making more than a few CENTS, if they're lucky.

I don't know ONE jazz musician who makes a living from ONLY playing music today.

I really don't get the idea that just because someone plays jazz they are entitled to earn a living from it It's a common music and tens of thousands of people can play it. Same for singer/songwriters. There are probably millions who play sing and write but - here's the thing - it isn't streaming (or Andorrans) who are preventing them from making a living. Of course millions of people would love to make a living from their art, poetry, novels, music, etc. It's a market, and - dare I add - not everyone offers a superlative product.

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From Spotify's website, this is how much the artist gets per stream on Spotify:

"Recently, these variables have led to an average per stream payout to rights holders of between $0.006 and $0.0084. This combines activity across our tiers of service. The effective average per stream payout generated by our Premium subscribers is considerably higher."

I think that pretty much leaves out any jazz or classical artists making more than a few CENTS, if they're lucky.

I don't know ONE jazz musician who makes a living from ONLY playing music today.

I really don't get the idea that just because someone plays jazz they are entitled to earn a living from it It's a common music and tens of thousands of people can play it. Same for singer/songwriters. There are probably millions who play sing and write but - here's the thing - it isn't streaming (or Andorrans) who are preventing them from making a living. Of course millions of people would love to make a living from their art, poetry, novels, music, etc. It's a market, and - dare I add - not everyone offers a superlative product.

If it's that easy, you try to do it.

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