WORDS AND MUSIC
Bravo to Stephen St.Croix for his article about the iTunes store [“Fast Lane: The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth,” June issue]. He hit it on the head (as usual) in pointing out all of the pleasures of this addictive place to purchase music. I sometimes wish Apple placed a governor on the software so that you can't buy more than, say, a hundred bucks a day. Whoo boy, that AMEX bill! However, there is one thing he did not address that surprised me. It's something, or rather the lack of something, that has been bothering me with every purchase: no liner notes. You get nothing about the creative team. No musicians, producers, engineers, programmers. Nothing. You only get the album cover! Now this is where the “$9.99 is too expensive” argument becomes too true. I'd rather pay Amazon $13.99 and get the full credits (not to mention lyrics) than pay $9.99 and not get any liner notes. Maybe people don't mind surfing to whatever site to get the liner notes — if they are even available online — but to me, that defeats the purpose of the store.
It's supposed to be convenient and save time: a one-stop Mecca for all your music needs. Am I alone on this? Perhaps. I haven't seen too many others lamenting this yet. Or maybe I'm just early! Come on, Apple, make the labels give you the liner notes so that we can grab 'em when we buy 'em! I'm sure somebody way smarter than I can think of a clever way to do it.
Q: WHAT CAN SAVE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
A: LET THE PRICE REFLECT THE QUALITY
As far as the selling of CDs is concerned, I think we have passed the point of no return. The mistake was to market the media, not the art. There was never any monetary value placed on the music that was contained on the CD. I realize that music “quality” is very subjective, but the fact that a CD of Garth Brooks' music and a CD of “Junior Samples Sings Your Favorite Hymns in Latin” are the same price is outrageous. It is comparable to selling a Monet painting for a price based on the kind of canvas it was painted on.
We market everything but the music: the look, the sex appeal, how many units sold, pictures of the groups, etc. Music has very little to do with what the “industry” wants from the people in it. If we can see our way clear to get back to the music and not all the crap around it, then we might be able to get what we all are asking for.
Matt Cornwell, composer
Big U Music Sound Design Inc.
NO MONEY, NO MUSIC
I think the people who write in are going way too far into detail. If people knew how much money goes to band/artists for tour expenses, recording costs and promotional costs, then most people might not download as much music as they do. I'm all for a sneak peek at a new CD with a free MP3 that's put out by a band to help sell their new product, but full-album downloading is wrong because nobody wins. Consumers have an MP3, which isn't near the sonic quality of a CD, the artist doesn't make any money from this, and neither does anyone else for that matter. If people realize when one falls, the others will eventually. Also, if labels (no matter how large) can't supply funds for an artist to record a quality-sounding CD, then there's no product.
What can save the record industry? Try a nice big shot of musical talent. I work part time in an undergraduate college media lab, and I'm forced to listen to all of the latest hits from Britney Spears and Eminem. I see what's going on here. The industry has lost its focus. Music has taken a backseat to the bottom line. All of these bands are pure crap. It's plastic, a corporate product, pumped out by cynical “greedheads” with major ego problems.
Eminem is Pat Boone in a hoodie. It's yet another sad attempt to profit from white-bread covers of black musical styles. The same goes for the Backstreet Boys. *N SYNC is the worst of bland teen-pop. It's all just recycled R&B retreads, just bleached a paler shade of white. If it's not flat-out awful, it's just boring. I'd rather watch the fish in my aquarium!
Britney Spears simply cannot sing or express emotion through her music. If you don't believe me, listen to one of her records, and then listen to Etta James or Aretha Franklin. That's settled!
None of the current pop music has any staying power. Once fans turn 16, they're too embarrassed to admit that they ever liked these groups. I grew up listening to the scintillating genius of They Might Be Giants, Adrian Sherwood and Sonic Youth, and you're trying to feed me Aaron Carter and Triple Image? Spare me! My advice? Can all of the lawyers and corporate managers and hire some real A&R staff!
I found the article by Paul Lehrman, “The One-Eared Monster” [“Insider Audio,” July issue], to be quite “whiney” for lack of a better word. No doubt, Lehrman ran into an uninformed video-duplication “dubber.” (I refrain from calling this person an engineer for fear of insulting others who deserve the title.) I know it must have been frustrating for him, but having said that, his portrayal of the video industry as “the murky world of video” is uninformed and unfairly attacks an entire industry for the mistakes of one company. Remember, too, that the owner of the video-duplication facility in Lehrman's article corrected the problems once they were brought to his attention. Kudos for that.
Mike Puckett, C.A.S.
Oliver Masciarotte's tour of Hit Factory/Criteria [“Bitstream,” July issue] was most definitely a welcome change of pace for me. I know the column varies in its scope a little, and he's not the normal studio review kind of guy, but I liked this one as an alternative to the usual studio review. It wasn't about business models or music industry war stories (both of which are fine, but maybe somewhat monotonous). Neither was it a laundry list of equipment, which the reader can come up with by looking at the pictures. It was about things we never see or hear about. These types of articles usually fall into predictable patterns, but this one exposed some behind-the-scenes stuff that rarely gets mentioned. Thanks.
Solo Sound Inc.