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Comfortably dumb October 9, 2007

Posted by James Warren in geeky stuff, music.

First Radiohead, now Nine Inch Nails.  All very interesting, but further to my point of yesterday, these are two of the biggest bands in the world – or certainly they used to be – so they *can* go it alone, as they’ve already built up massive fan bases.  There is an argument somewhere in amongst all this that says without ‘the music industry’ (in all its forms) to support them, they may never have reached their current heady heights.  So while the ‘business model of the future’ may help established music acts, it doesn’t necessarily provide global opportunities for new/up-and-coming bands.

Yes, bands can promote themselves via MySpace etc, but at the end of the day, while it allows access to shedloads of music, MySpace isn’t as easy to ‘use’ as MTV, Radio 1 or Xfm (or at least not to a mid-thirties-no-spare-timer like me).  Sometimes, just sometimes, I want the quality control filtering done for me.  I want to sit down and be a dumb terminal.  Which is why there’ll always be a place for the media (and therefore a music industry to provide it with content that matches its audience).

Of course the likes of Pandora can do this filtering process for me, but you still have to start somewhere (I want to hear music like xxx) and I’m not sure to what extent they feature unsigned bands.  Anyway, I enjoy a little bit of serendipity.  Without it I would never have heard half the music I now hold dear.

(I should caveat all this nonsensical rambling by saying, ridiculously, I haven’t bought any music for months – unless you count HSM2 for the kids (which is fabulous) – so maybe I’m just massively out of touch.)


1. Matt Ravden - October 9, 2007

Jimbob, nobody seems to be posting to your blog, so out of sympathy, here I am.

I don’t wish to get into a big ol’ toss-off on business models, but how about high res music? Those ‘in the know’ know (sorry, said the word ‘know’ twice then) that CDs only provide a fraction of the data required to listen to even vaguely authentic sounding music. Albums distributed on-line are even further compressed, to the point that we’re only really listening to a tiny, tinny sound. CD-quality? Hardly, and as if CD-quality was something to boast about!

I’m into SACDs, DVD-Audios and all that guff, because you get the full bandwidth that our ears can hear and appreciate (some of it, we can’t hear but apparently we can appreciate). But if this online trend continues, will we be trapped in a world of incomplete sound? Have you ever heard compressed music through a big pair of floor-standers? It sounds pants, so maybe top end hifi manufacturers are going to be dinosaurs too as well. There’s no point in spending lots of wonga on equipment only to listen to compressed music.

One small beacon of hope. Check out http://www.linnrecords.com and you can actually download ‘studio quality’ music – eg, SACD-quality. OK it’s not exactly mainstream ….

(sorry, I completely changed the subject!)

2. jameswarren - October 10, 2007

I’m the wrong person to comment on this, given that a) I very much doubt Linn Records offer High School Musical (1 or 2) in studio quality – more fool them, frankly – and b) i don’t have a pair of big floor-standers. i used to, but one of them stopped working when my son ran into it and turned it – momentarily – into a floor-lyer. I really should get it fixed. But thanks for the comment, Matt.

How’s the book coming along? Have you saved up enough Bloke Miles TM to get to Paris?

3. Matt - October 10, 2007

No I’m bleedin’ best man at a wedding, doing my speech at approximately 8pm. Nightmare.

Back to your post … I am concerned that we’re breeding tone deaf people who want convenient music but don’t care about sound. I suppose eventually there will be enough bandwidth that we can choose to download high res music …

BLah blah.

4. jameswarren - October 10, 2007

If I knew enough about it I’m sure I could mention DAB or something here. Bandwidth will improve, that’s for sure. Of course you can choose to download Apple’s lossless format from iTunes today, which they claim loses… wait for it…. nothing in terms of quality. Or at least I assume they claim that. I’ve never looked and never tried it. Perhaps I’m breeding tone deaf myself (as the chinaman said to the disc jockey).

Ouch re wedding. Good luck with the speech – at least you’ll get a standing ovation if you’re quick.

5. sidneystencil - October 11, 2007

Boys talking about music and compression formats and their, uh, “big floorstanders” — riveting stuff. Aren’t they always? Big, I mean.

To answer your original question, Jim — you’re just massively out of touch.

6. jameswarren - October 12, 2007

Thanks Sid. Good to know.

7. Matt Ravden - October 15, 2007

There’s big and there’s big. James used to have some but his kids managed to knock them over. If my kids ran into mine, the speakers would still be standing, but I’d be on my way to hospital.

Not that size is important …

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