THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE COST MONEY
March letters by Jim Stagnitto and Roger Hughes typify what Ibelieve are false assumptions by those championing the brave newworld of “free” digital music.
First is the assumption that the quality of new music will beunaffected by the minor detail that composers will be unable toearn a living. All creating in this not-for-profit realm will bedone as a hobby in whatever spare time one has after work —the work that pays the bills. I ask you to imagine the quality of,say, the NBA, if all players participated in their spare time andfor no pay. There is, in nearly all endeavors, a profounddifference between the amateur and the professional.
Second, Mr. Hughes writes that, “Future artists will notbe the ‘creators’ of ‘original’ tunes andother works of ‘art,’ but the assemblers anddissemblers of the signs and symbols of the times…We will allbe ‘repro’ people.” Well, we already have apretty good preview of this future in much of modern art, wherepaying dues is considered anachronistic. So-called artists cut andpaste what genuine artists have created into hodge-podges ofunedifying junk. If this is followed to its logical conclusion,each generation of music “collagists” will bere-reassembling and re-dissembling the works that its predecessorassembled and dissembled. And the ever-diminishing gold they willbe mining will be the real music that was originally created byreal composers. The other possible future will be one much liketoday's Broadway theater, where the public, having lost interest innew musicals, is served up endless recycled versions of AnnieGet Your Gun, etc.
The “music” we can look forward to, if intellectualproperty cannot be protected, “the digital flotsam ofinteresting sounds and symbols,” is going to make the term“Golden oldies” ring more and more true.
STOP AND SMELL THE MUSIC
When I was just a teenager, I remember trying to save all themoney I could to buy some record of, let's say, Dire Straits, andmy limited budget made me choose from among other records. Thisfact, which perhaps looks negative, was possibly great for mebecause of the added value it gave a record: It was an“object of desire.”
Nowadays, you can almost instantly have any record, with noeffort to get it. There is no wait, no cover booklet, even nosmell. Do you remember the smell of a new vinyl record?
I know all of this sounds a bit stupid, but I don't like freethings. How will people understand the value of something thatcosts nothing? How will they guess the hours of working —sometimes a whole life — when an MP3 file is so easy to getin seconds and for no money? And, finally, even with a watermarkingsystem to ensure (legal) downloading, I will always prefer my oldvinyl and CDs, as much as I'll like the feel of a real book andhate its screen alias. Yes, I know times change, and I will alwaystry to adapt to them, but I'll miss the smell of records.
Ruido Studios, Spain
I enjoyed Paul Lehrman's article about FireWire and MIDI andyour disappointment with Gibson's CEO (“Insider Audio,”February 2001). To address the lack of reliable information aboutVision 4.5.1, I put together a Website documenting its quirks andhardware setup strategies, as well as general FAQs and other infobased on posts to the Topica Opcode User's Group.
We're just keeping the torch alive for an awesome MIDI/audioproduction environment: www.fm-music.com/v/.
THE REAL PROJECT STUDIO
Can you please give me the definition of a “projectstudio”? In your February “The Project Studio”column, you state that Peter Moshay has a barn to work with, with acontrol room the size of a large raquetball court and two morerooms for live tracking! Not to mention Hall & Oates' money. Ihardly think that this fits the definition of a project studio.
I agree that many people now have the advantage of setting up astudio in their house or in a connected space for a reasonableprice, but this isn't one of those. I have worked since last summeron a small space in my garage (8×17 feet). My budget has beenclose to nothing, and I have done all the work myself, except for ahelping hand from a friend in putting up drywall.
Within this “project studio” are my hopes and dreamsand everything else that I have stuffed into this small space.There, I will record, mix and master. I have no other rooms to goto, no control booth or isolation booth. I have yet to make a dime,yet I hope to. That, to me, is what defines a project studio. Ihave nothing against the studio that you mentioned. It is obviouslywell-established and making decent money. But, I think you shouldhighlight the struggling project studio owners. Get the guy who'srunning MOTU gear out of his closet, or the girl who has her setupin the dining room next to the kitchen. These people are trulyrunning a studio with a tight belt and are trying to make a musicaldifference and a living.
You are correct. The definition of a project studio is prettyloose, and Mix does not define it by space available or budget.Most often, we rely on the fact that it is noncommercial: Hall& Oates do not rent their studio out for money. The overridingdefinition we use is that a project studio is primarily run by anowner/operator who works on his or her projects and is not lookingfor commercial time. That said, however, we have in the pastfeatured commercial project studios, and we've often struggled withthe distinction between project studios and home studios. The linesare murky. Thank you for your insights.