Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Another nail in the coffin of music DRM

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  • Kyle Matthews,

    what's the longest thread on PA anyway? I'm guessing 19 pages is big but not the record?

    Both terrorism threads got up towards 40 pages I think.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    This thread is doing really well for a non-political* theme. I'm rather enjoying reading it and I've learned a few things along the way.


    * Of course, it is kind of political, but that's not the main thing.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Both terrorism threads got up towards 40 pages I think.

    40!!! that's uncrackable.....

    sorry,...... I'll get my coat

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    sorry,...... I'll get my coat

    thats quitter talk Robbery, you can do it, YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!



    come on finnster, start stirring again, this has been the most painfully entertaining PA thread evar.

    maybe PAsys should have colourable text or something simmilar, to show irony, sarcasm, miscieviousness. because I can tell when Robbery is playing devils advocate, no one should have been surprised when he mentioned that he DID d/l lots on p2p himself.

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    I think more and more bands will be recording music off their own back, using their own systems to mix it, and distribute it online.

    if this is the case how do you see the public responding to the drop in sonics in their recorded music?
    I've seen a lot of people take the recording studio home, but very few have managed to pull anything sonically competitive out of the box. those that have (minisnap springs to mind) are good because Bassist paul is an experienced audio engineer in his own right.

    It's actually harder than it looks to get your sounds up to the level that modern audiences expect.

    I have seen a conscious rejection of sonics (as opposed to quality which refers to clean hiss free distortion free recording, sonics is big impressive or interesting sounds of instruments) in recordings. CHCH band the Tigertones won a recording package in a band competition from rdu and the station insisted on a radio playable recording. the band actively fought against this pushing for the low fi sound which they did on their following recordings.
    The logic to their thinking was that 'well' recorded sounds showed a lack of authenticity in the music, pushed it toward commercial 'funded' recordings and thus challenged the honesty of their sound.
    I can see their point with bands like my chemical romance and linkin park putting forward the earnest angst and 4 real image while so clearly being carefully designed and manufactured in a boardroom but a panel of media experts.

    I guess in a world where we can trust less and less what we see, hear and read you have to trim away the lies in a heavy handed way, but in a way bands that go to such lengths to create authenticity and honesty in their music are manufacturing their image as much as linkin park although it costs the low fi people a hell of a lot less money.

    I for one hope people still find a way to make sonically pleasing records.

    Their prize package song was radio playable and

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Gilliam Welch has a song called "Everything's for
    free" that sums this debate up well- from the musicians' side. AND it's one of the better songs- (wistful, beautiful, true!) on one of the best albums of the last decade :-)... which you can DL perfectly legally from emusic, here, or indeed you could get their entire catalogue as your 50 free dl incentive to join!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    I think they'll work on building closer connections with fans, because they'll become more aware that it's a moral issue, and if their fans feel close to the band, they're more likely to pay to get the music that the band produces.

    We're seeing that now on the local scene. bands routinely sell more of their own product at gigs than stores do.
    yes the moral guilt thing is true but over the last 10 years we've seen a moral shift that accepts piracy more. ie 10 years ago, no copying of local, today, not so fussed about it.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    if this is the case how do you see the public responding to the drop in sonics in their recorded music?

    Without knowing what you mean by sonics...

    The difference won't be in the quality of the music. So many people listen to music digitally now anyway. The difference may appear in the quality of the master. The mix might be more amateur, the guitar might be a little louder. But I think bands will get better at doing these things themselves, and I think the independent recording engineer's career is looking up.

    I also think that not every musician worries about these things. Chris Knox does most of his recording in a bedroom with a dodgy 4 track. Only half the music world is potentially looking at a loss in quality.

    And people pay craploads more money to go hear their band live than they do to buy an album. Sound quality is much worse there.

    yes the moral guilt thing is true but over the last 10 years we've seen a moral shift that accepts piracy more. ie 10 years ago, no copying of local, today, not so fussed about it.

    And that's where the real battle has been lost. Musicians that have loyal fans who make a 'good' moral decision are probably getting money back from a higher percentage of their music than the rest of the pack.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    I'm only resuming posting on this one because I actually agree with robbery on the recording point. He's right. There's a world of difference between a professional sound, a good sound, a low-fi-but-good sound and just sounding like shit. The latter is achievable by anybody, but all the former ones need some engineering background and skill. That goes double if your band aren't extreme gear geeks to start with. The best-sounding NZ rock band I've ever heard without a front-of-house engineer are New Way Home, and that was with loaner gear in a music store - they all know what they're doing with their instrument sound because they're all total gear-heads. Those kinds of musicians are well-placed to do home recording, but they're a small minority.

    On the other hand, lots of people really don't have that kind of nous when it comes to getting their instruments to sound right in a room without a front-of-house engineer - and if they can't do that, they're certainly not going to get them to sound right on a home recording.

    It's really easy with home digital audio workstations to get a kind of clean, lifeless, sterile recording that doesn't express anything of the performance and it really is amazing how much this takes away from the music. It's hard to get a professional, punchy sound. It's really, really hard to get the kind of expressive interesting-sounding "grit" you hear on most genuinely great albums. There's a reason that great engieers like Rudy Van Gelder were and are so respected by musicians - they're an extension of the instrument in that they have a huge, huge impact on tone and ability to perform expressively.

    Whatever new business model arises for the music industry it's going to need to have enough money in it somewhere to keep paying good engineers unless we want to listen to limp, lifeless records.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I also think that not every musician worries about these things. Chris Knox does most of his recording in a bedroom with a dodgy 4 track.

    He's a ProTools guy now ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Without knowing what you mean by sonics...

    I use the term sonics to describe the impressiveness of sound.
    Theres an electric guitar sound, then there the band helmets guitar sound on 'in the meantime"

    Those sounds were got through great gear great playing and great recording every step of the way. turn it up and it can flap your drain pipe trousers.

    pretty tunes are important, good performance/delivery are important, but bad recording can distract from the greatness of a song or performance, and great recording can make that song shine.

    sometimes great recordings come from small things, but mostly it comes from skill and reasonable gear (not necessarily great gear. wonderful things have been done on small budgets, but not normally from novices)

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    PAsys should have colourable text or something simmilar, to show irony, sarcasm, miscieviousness.

    you blew my cover samuel.
    I was getting worried people were missing the gist of my conversation,
    I'm not condoning or condeming downloading on an individual level and I did say I enjoy the benefits of access to the wealth of audio and visual. I just think one of these things can't last. ie production of new audio or film, or free access to it.
    plus I'm a rude prick hiding behind the internet to make cheap shots at strangers, all in the best possible taste of course.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    I just think one of these things can't last.

    absolutely true.

    we are in the middle of big big change, and there is more to come. I cant say i will miss the big corporates, they have been ripping off artists (and making lots of money for some) and creating absolute pap (and some gems, even manufactured pop gems) within their machine for too long. and they are still doing it, I note Ruben Stoddard (usa pop idol) has recently been dropped from his label....).

    The industry may revert back to pre-70's standards, a wide wide long tail with hardly any body, if you will. More artists making a good living, less making sick money, with the odd artist going supanova for a while, meaning they get more sales, even more piracy, but possibly a good retirement fund set up through whatever version of Live performance suits them, and merchandise, licensing. Eventually a REPEATABLE model will rise to the surface, it may take a long time though.

    However much i enjoy good commentary on the issue, here and dubber particularly, so much will keep changing over the next few years, Its almost foolish to try to predict. There WILL be some new and innovative approaches to DRM tried, probably drasticly different to what we connsider DRM currently. Which is kinda what I think you are getting at in some of your posts, Its not gonna be anything like what has been tried so far, and it probably wont work. but it also wont neccesarily be as stupid as those tried in the past either.

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Chris Knox does most of his recording in a bedroom with a dodgy 4 track.

    chris had a pretty nice reel to reel four track and it was him and doug hood that recorded the clean boodle ep, so the man is quite skilled and after how ever many years of doing it he may profess to be an amateur but he isn't.
    as RB pointed out he's made the jump to protools now too.
    i see a bit of home recording and the level is pretty bad for the first couple of year. its a steep learning curve.

    And people pay craploads more money to go hear their band live than they do to buy an album.

    for international acts yes, for local bands no. average gig prices are still $10 or under, larger bands 15-30.
    They pay more for dj sets which have less people involved.

    Musicians that have loyal fans who make a 'good' moral decision are probably getting money back from a higher percentage of their music than the rest of the pack.

    this is true. the implications for the irresponsible rocker are a bit daunting

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    I cant say i will miss the big corporates, they have been ripping off artists.......

    I'm going to have to slap you over the wrist for a comment like that Samuel. That's the same hollywoodised crap that Dubber tried to feed us a while back and its pretty much rubbish, but it makes a good movie, mini series or musical.
    While its true there have been cases of dodgy contracts where stupid bands have got the short end of the deal the reality is most get really boring predictable and fair (as fair as business ever is) contracts and they don't make fuck all out of the deal because they weren't particularly successful. I hate mega corps as much as the next bleeding heart liberal but at least I see them for what they are and understand they're in business to make money, not lose it for a good cause.

    The old "for too long" argument to justify theft is wrong an it lumps all music in with the music of the few who are under the banner of majors. It clouds the argument and is based on false premises. Don't fall for it and question those who put it forward as a reasonable argument. those people should know better if they're half as informed as they pretend to be.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    average gig prices are still $10 or under, larger bands 15-30.

    which hardly makes it a CAREER option...... . we are talking about artists making a living off their music, arent we?

    They pay more for dj sets which have less people involved

    but which often [not always] occur in better controlled/maintained environments with far far better sound quality. so even though they cost less to put on individually they require more long term investment, and are less likely to be a let down for the punter.....

    I'm going to have to slap you over the wrist for a comment like that Samuel.

    alright Robbery, the gloves are off,,,,,Did you even read what i said?????? heheheh

    understand they're in business to make money, not lose it for a good cause.

    I'm not saying they deserve it. I'm saying their mistakes should be part of the discussion. they creamed it in the 80's. and since then have been constantly sucking the soul out of "pop". as i mentioned, sometimes their exercises have actually been brilliant, but too often they have killed great art. and ripped people you and me have never even heard of off. lots of them. with dreams. crushed.

    they will never be gone, but their power will be diminished, and i will not miss that.

    And I never said they deserve me ripping them off because they rip people off. I simply think its one of the major and more interesting changes that can be predicted with good likelyhood. Which is what Dubber has fun writing about.

    [ plus i will never forgive them for Celine Dion.......]

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    which hardly makes it a CAREER option...... . we are talking about artists making a living off their music, arent we?

    That's another argument entirely. NZ could arguably be said to be in dire need of a musician's union with teeth, working conditions for musicians here can be piss-poor.

    but which often [not always] occur in better controlled/maintained environments with far far better sound quality. so even though they cost less to put on individually they require more long term investment, and are less likely to be a let down for the punter.....

    No, they don't require more investment. The investment in a PA capable of supporting DJ sets vs the investment in a full band-worth of gear, microphones/desk/PA/foldback capable of supporting a band is way different, and the band option is a lot more expensive. Sure, DJ sets might require some screens and nice lighting to keep things interesting, but the basic infrastructure required to make the sound is a lot cheaper.

    The reason the sound quality is better is because DJs use pre-mixed material rather than a live engineer who has to work on the spot and deal with practical issues like feedback and monitoring levels.

    As for punters being let down, I agree this is a problem. I think it's a function of NZ audiences being too nice to local musicians to actually make putting on a really terrible show a traumatic experience, plus the fact that many bars don't actually pay their bands anything or make any real investment in the people they choose to play. Unfortunately an inept DJ sounds a lot better than an inept band and is a lot cheaper to host.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    No, they don't require more investment.

    i was thinking along the lines of the fact that it probably costs more to set up and run a club than, say, the powerstation or kings arms. possibly not the best arguement I have ever put forth. did need to put that old hack Robbery in his place though!.

    My main point, i think, is that we shouldnt slag off the cover charge of DJ gigs. since it is a price the market can obviously afford, possibly because it is less risky for the punter, for the reasons you list above.

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    Gilliam Welch has a song called "Everything's for
    free" that sums this debate up well

    if you'd spelled her name correctly it would have been easier for me to locate it on filesharing sites :)

    essentially the lyrics go "somebody figured out they could take my music for free and I'd still make it".

    I'm not sure this is actually the case, or if it is the case and gillian still continues to make her music she may well make it for herself and it never sees the light of day.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    alright Robbery, the gloves are off,,,,,Did you even read what i said?????? heheheh

    I did but you slipped that commonly used false argument onto your otherwise ok sentence and if people keep using it it gives weight to a false argument, and we can't have that now can we, although its probably too late now anyway as many people seem to be happy in the misconception.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    And I never said they deserve me ripping them off because they rip people off.

    you may not have personally although saying they've been ripping people off for ages titles the feeling of entitlement etc.
    its not necessarily true either.
    I'm sure you don't go buying britney albums and those are the sort of releases that have a higher profit margin. indie and alternative releases have a much smaller profit margin if any and there's little or no ripping off going on here.

    I remember talking to a friend once about flying nun and roger shepherd. the friend said" hmmm, roger, he still owes me money for my bands ep released on flying nun", inferring that he in some way ripped them off.
    I asked how much money Roger had criminally withheld from them,
    to which they replied about $50.

    you see how these things get started and for what reason.
    Roger was a relentless hard worker for his label and I'm sure if there was $50 spare he would have passed it on to those that earned it, but the truth of the matter was more likely to be there was no money over from the unremarkable ep the band got released through the label but there is still the bad blood 15 years later,

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    i was thinking along the lines of the fact that it probably costs more to set up and run a club than, say, the powerstation or kings arms. possibly not the best arguement I have ever put forth. did need to put that old hack Robbery in his place though!.

    while it is true that I do need to be put in my place you're unlikely to do it with comments like this.
    The costs are similar for running the powerstation as for any of your clubs, in fact many club events are put on at rock venues, ie the civic in chch, and many rock events happen at clubs ie ministry in chch.
    the production costs are similar ie big PA, but a band has the added costs of microphones large mixer etc and the added hassle of non studio sounds to make a polished product, where as club stuff is already polished when it comes off the disc into speakers.
    for some reason punters feel ok paying large prices for dj gigs and not so much for bands so bands find it hard to splash out for big production items like light shows smoke machines and minature replicas of stone henge. its kind of arse about face really cos dj sets cost less to put on but thats' the way it is and there's not much you can do about it.
    There's less money coming in so band gigs become less impressive and people want to pay less for them so there's less money to pay for production so band gigs become less impressive and people want to pay less and so on and so on etc.

    as for the old hack comment, just wait till I get my hip replacement and we'll discuss this further.

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    The costs are similar for running the powerstation as for any of your clubs, in fact many club events are put on at rock venues, ie the civic in chch, and many rock events happen at clubs ie ministry in chch.
    the production costs are similar ie big PA,

    The irony is that the Powerstation was set up by Tom Sampson and myself in the mid 80s as The Galaxy and it was the income from our club nights, as The Asylum, that allowed it to operate as a live venue. Without the club, no lighting rigs or inhouse PA. When it changed to the Powerstation in 88, under Chris Cole, the club nights worked the same way.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • robbery,

    just read the listener article on DRM. it was in a doctors waiting room.
    the closing sentence was disturbingly misleading

    But one thing is clear. For music at least, attempting to tightly control consumers' use of what they have bought has not only failed to prevent piracy but become more trouble than its worth

    Correct me if I'm wrong but were they attempting to control the mis use of their product, not the use of it, ie trying to stop people flicking the product everywhere and to everyone.
    Do you really believe that music owners intend to begrudge you the ability to listen to your legally purchased on what ever music playing device you choose?
    Do you not understand that the limitations you may have encountered were by products of trying to curb illegal use?

    and per your article Itunes DRM allows you to flick the purchased music onto 5 of your computers and all of your ipods. how is that compromising your legitimate use other than limiting the platform ie mac vs pc, and that would no doubt be sorted at some future stage (quciktime for pc anyone?, wmv for mac?)

    looks to me like you're pushing for illegitimate use under the guise of having your rights infringed.
    I note the article was post this discussion forum(12 jan ish). have you changed your view in the last couple of weeks?

    new zealand • Since May 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Correct me if I'm wrong but were they attempting to control the mis use of their product, not the use of it, ie trying to stop people flicking the product everywhere and to everyone.

    Except that they're defining "misuse" to suit themselves.

    Do you really believe that music owners intend to begrudge you the ability to listen to your legally purchased on what ever music playing device you choose?

    I believe that was the gist of the RIANZ/IMNZ submission on format-shifting, yes. When Michael Glading was head of Sony and the RIANZ spokesman, he tried to tell me there was no need for iTunes playlists and such, because you could get perfectly good carousel CD players. Seriously.

    Do you not understand that the limitations you may have encountered were by products of trying to curb illegal use?

    Rob, again, read the RIANZ select committee submission, particularly the parts about libraries and archives. It's antithetical to the public good. The material from the International Intellectual Property Alliance is much worse.

    and per your article Itunes DRM allows you to flick the purchased music onto 5 of your computers and all of your ipods. how is that compromising your legitimate use other than limiting the platform ie mac vs pc, and that would no doubt be sorted at some future stage (quciktime for pc anyone?, wmv for mac?)

    No, iTunes DRM works on MacOS and Windows computers, just not on any portable player other than an iPod, because Apple declines to license it. (I'm locked out of any content under Windows Media DRM because Microsoft isn't supporting the Mac.)

    The main theme of the column was that a technology the music companies assumed would allow them to control markets actually handed control of a key part of their industry to Apple.

    The only current competitor with any show of reining in Apple's dominance is Amazon, which is selling DRM-free MP3s with the enthusiastic support for the major labels.

    looks to me like you're pushing for illegitimate use under the guise of having your rights infringed.

    Rob, as various people have noted, you don't seem to take in anything anyone else says. It hardly seems worth answering.

    I note the article was post this discussion forum(12 jan ish). have you changed your view in the last couple of weeks?

    What on earth are you on about?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

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