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Burning The Candle At Both Ends

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the home-office-deduction dept.

Music 183

The Fanfan sends us this: "A very interesting article in today's New York Times on how home studios are breaking the stronghold of recording companies on music production. Nowadays, anyone with some talent, a PC and a couple of peripherals and good mikes can produce music which would have required spending weeks in an expensive professional recording studio five years ago. Only recording companies could pay those expenses. So, the same way Napster and the Net at large have already seriously eroded their monopoly on distribution, are home studios the other (unsung) heroes of the war against BMG, EMI, Sony and altars?" This fits in well with the article we just posted.

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Studion Quality work (5)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 13 years ago | (#440352)

I read the article without any great reservations -- I knew it was a fluff piece, but I didn't realise it was cotton candy. When I came to the part when the author stated that people would soon be recording music on a pro level with "little plastic microphones", I dropped my cup of water because I was laughing (well, snorting) so loud.

I used to work for Altec Lansing [] in their R&D center, here in Israel. We worked some on some directional microphone tech which is very cool. They sell it now in the InteliMic package. Even with this great mic, there is still residual sound, distortion, hollowness, etc.

I'm sorry to break this to you, man, but there is no way in hell that some "little plastic microphone" will ever hit the level of quality [] microphone. And then there is the studio environment (you know, of course, that your home is not really as quiet as you would think), the professional mixers, etc.

Me thinks that this is just another ad revenue piece that panders to the drooling masses that have (well, sort of thankfully) found a target in the RIAA.


Re: What's in store? (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | more than 13 years ago | (#440355)

Very well stated!

Re:Music vs Hamburgers (2)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#440357)

As for the middle [marketing]: they've never been as good at this as they've claimed, and the Net provides a new medium that, by all accounts, they fail to understand.

They've been wonderful at marketing. Have you looked at the charts lately? Sales are concentrating on a relatively small number of heavily promoted groups. Note that one producer is responsible for two or three of the best selling acts in the business today.

I don't think the net is going to change the mass-market as much as people think it is. What it is going to do is allow the rest of the world access to more targeted channels; in other words, MTV will still promote Christina Aguilera and Eminem-- but there will be many more alternatives to MTV. Even though sales of the kinds of music I listen to will never approach those of Britney Spears, I will at least be able to hear those bands with a much higher signal-to-noise ratio.

I think those people who imagine that this is going to destroy the record industry are badly mistaken. It will allow artists more choice, it will allow customers to avoid the crap (and record companies will eventually get in on this) but it isn't going to end their domination (unless, possibly, they get wiped out by their mishandling of copyright issues.)

Re:Studion Quality work (4)

fornix (30268) | more than 13 years ago | (#440359)

Tech is not the limiting factor anymore. Not by a long shot. For less than the price of a decent used car, you can make excellent sounding music in your bedroom! The cheap semi-pro stuff became "good enough" several years ago. The only real limitation now is your musical vision and performance.

Need proof? It's all over For example, this guy [] (no relation to myself) blows my mind with the sound he gets from semi-pro gear. That song "Lie" sounds like it might have been one that Lennon cut in the studio. And you know what? All his stuff was recorded in his bedroom with an AT4033 condensor mic (~$500), Alesis SR-16 drum machine (~$250), Roland V Drums ($2-3000), Roland VS1680 ($2500 with effects cards), ART Tube PAC (couple hundred $) and his guitars. The guitar sounds were all done with the VS1680 amp sims! No live amps. No fancy preamps. No acoustically treated room necessary. And it is pro quality. I know of many other examples like this on

Nothing's holding you back if you have the musical talent and you're willing to put in the time necessary to learn how to engineer a good sound. The semi-pro stuff is now about 85-90% as good sounding as the most expensive stuff. A $500 condensor mic is good enough to get your point across in hi fidelity - you really don't need a U87 to make music that is enjoyable.

Re:Still (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 13 years ago | (#440360)

Working in a professional studio does not make you a great musician.
Working as a UNIX admin does not guarantee competency.
Being a great musician has nothing to do with what equipment you use.

There have always been and and always will be those with talent and those without. Great musicians will make great music regardless of what tools are available to them. The difference is, now all the great musicians who couldn't shell out $50+ (at minimum) an hour to get into a studio can now afford to make great music at all, instead of fucking around on a $50 guitar and never showing how good they are to anyone but their friends and family, and never sharing their talent with anyone.

1st Law Of Networking: Loose ends are bad, termination is good.

Re:This article is about 25 years out of date. (1)

rfsayre (255559) | more than 13 years ago | (#440363)

Actually, the PC can do what a Mac could do 10 years ago, what some rented analog gear could do 15 years ago, and what the punks started doing over 25 years ago.

Actually, this is totally wrong. Price out some of the lower end Digidesign [] or MOTU [] cards/racks, then tell me how far that amount would have gotten you 25 years ago (adjusted for inflation, of course). The big difference is that your home recorded music can end up on CD sounding good rather than a self released cassette. Remember those?

Since, the "near death" of Apple a couple years ago, most major third party hardware and software is available for both Windows and Mac OS, with the same functionality. And yes, you do need third party hardware, even on the Mac. To name a few of the major players: Steinberg [] , Emagic [] , Opcode [] , Sonic Foundry [] , etc.

A short history on music production and distribution:
blah, blah, blah

This amusingly myopic regurgitation of dated rock critic wisdom is so terrible that I'll bring up only the worst points of it and then point you to some good resources so you can get a better handle on things.

The major problem with your "history" is that it neglects to mention black people until Public Enemy and NWA. Don't forget that the black community has played a major role in the invention of every American music, from jazz to rap to techno. Furthermore, they've had their own distribution channels in the past, and still do today.

While perhaps making for convenient comparisons to Britney, et al. , your explanation of the differences between AM/FM and 33/45 are grossly exagerated and, in some cases, incorrect. A lot of this has to do with the fact that you forgot black people, whose music is often more appropriately presented in a singles format.

Perhaps you best check out these places:
All Music []
The Mechanic's Guide to Putting Out Records, Cassettes and CDs []
Home Recording at []

Re:Home engineers will NEVER as good... (4)

fatmantis (218867) | more than 13 years ago | (#440364)

those are some seriously good points, but I'm afraid you're just towing the party line here, mick. I want to point you to some of the best sounding albums ever put to wax, namely

White Light / White Heat (velvet underground)
Piper at the Gates of Dawn (the Pink Floyd)
Damaged (Black Flag)
Loveless (My Bloody Valentine)

the overarching point being that it isn't the recording space, gear or even engineering that brought those records together, rather it was inspiration, showmanship and a vision of what makes an album a great album.

With the exception of Loveless and to an extent, Piper, no studio is needed or wanted for the true masterpiece. Not a single $90,000 compressor was used on any of these albums. no $2M 'desk' (your parlance) was required to complete WL/WH, it was recorded in an abandoned church with a greasy 2 track. sure, they may have had 220v ribbon mikes, but those weren't ridiculously vauntedly overvalued by a mob of hoodwinked guitar-center junkies. It was all just old crappy gear being used by people who'd transcended the status quo of the music industry.

And now, with my Pod and my Tascam MD 8track, my cluster of smc '57 and a nice stretch of hardwood floors, I can attain better sounds than they got on Rubber Soul. all it takes is a little imagination and a a bit of tweeking in sound forge...

Re:another example... (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 13 years ago | (#440366)

Like anything else, it takes practice... you don't just pick up a guitar and play Stairway to Heaven, do you? (OK, bad example ;)

1st Law Of Networking: Loose ends are bad, termination is good.

Re:MP3s are so 1990s (2)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 13 years ago | (#440367)

Lossy compression will never be "passe".

Compression doesn't always mean producing the same or lower quality at a lower bitrate. It can also be used to produce *higher* quality at the *same* bitrate.

For whatever given bitrate you're willing to deal with, it _always_ makes sense to perform lossy compression. A good compression system running at 700kb/s (1/2 CD audio's bitrate) could have quality far superior to CD.

uh huh .... (1)

Capt. Beyond (179592) | more than 13 years ago | (#440370)

In addition to its "state of the art" recording equipment, a good recording studio also requires musicians, engineers, secretaries and janitors, not to mention interior decorators, limousine service and snacks for hungry artists, all of which means additional expense.

ya, every time I have ever been in a 'recording' studio, it didn't have any 'limousine' service( or if it did, it was our van!). The janitor is usually the guy behind the mixer, the snacks are whatever we brought with us. Last recording studio I was at, had a frickin' bullet hole going through the back door!

Re:Music vs Hamburgers (1)

Capt. Beyond (179592) | more than 13 years ago | (#440371)

yer damn right dude!

Still (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#440372)

Having Photoshop on your computer does not make you a great artist.
Installing Red Hat does not make you a unix expert.
Being able to do high-quality sound recordings with your PC does not make you a great musician.

Re:Here it is (1)

CarrotLord (161788) | more than 13 years ago | (#440373)

Of course, moving from 5 to 6 is almost impossible without some sort of "pull". Either you have a label behind you, you know someone at the station, or there are drugs involved (beleive me, more than one hit song has become a hit due to a cocaine shipment arriving on time).


It works... (1)

jammer 4 (34274) | more than 13 years ago | (#440374)

Last night a friend of mine played my his latest mix he arranged using Acid. (Sweet, sweet program). It sounded just like a studio recording, and was incredible quality. He did this in a day on him home PC. So for a grand or so, anyone can get the music down. Of course it still takes talent to make the music.

What about distribution (2)

alen (225700) | more than 13 years ago | (#440385)

OK, making music is one thing. How about distribution? How is an unknown artist going to get his new home made CD on the shelves of HMV or Wal Mart?

What's in store? (1)

selan (234261) | more than 13 years ago | (#440386)

Sounds like producing anything of real quality at home is still in the future. More interesting to me is how musicians will use the technology to create whole new forms of music.

Cheaper overhead may equal cheaper music. (2)

Anemophilous Coward (312040) | more than 13 years ago | (#440392)

I think that with individuals being able to run their own recording studios in their livingrooms we could see a move to making attainment of music much cheaper or even free.

The article mentions that perhaps the industry's move to implement watermarking will allow independent artists to distribute music using that technology. I don't quite see that happening, as I feel the RIAA will want to keep that technology to themselves.

What I think will happen, and should happen, is that musical artists should throw out their creations for free all over the Internet and elsewhere. Make themselves heard. I think their real compensation in the future will come from charging for live interaction.

Most of the music I listen to comes from local independent musicians who give away their CD's. But they are so good, it's worth every dollar to go see them at pubs and concert halls around town. It helps generate human contact and you spend time hanging out with your friends drinking beer and listening to good music. And this isn't just your back garage punk band...that isn't my mainstay of music nowadays (of course I still listen to it). These bands range from rock to ska to electronic DJ's to Jazz fusion and even classical. There is nothing quite as fun as being only 5 feet away from a good band...maybe even having a beer with them afterwards.

I'm sure touring is hard on bands, but most of my musician friends love it. They get to travel around, meet new people and do what they love doing. It helps inspire a better sense of community. Some of the extra good local bands here now have some followings in other states too. If I get a bands CD for free over the Internet, hear how good they are and hear rave reviews of their local concerts...I would travel across state to see them.

I don't know if their popularity will ever quite soar to where someone is shelling out $150 a ticket (yuk...U2!) to sit far away from the musicians in a large stadium. Rather impersonal. But I think those type of concerts will die out as well, once the RIAA loses its grip some more and stops the endless promoting of no-talen bands like N-sync and the like. Once they start losing their marketing grip, newer generations wont be so brainwashed into believing the tripe they promote today.

So in conclusion, I think these super-cheap home studios will lead to more free music for all. This will generate musicians who truly focus on their music and promote themselves through the community...not some faceless, money-grabbing corporation.

- not your normal AC

Re:Studion Quality work (1)

jammer 4 (34274) | more than 13 years ago | (#440393)

I think the real point though, is that in the not to distant future, home recording with studio quality is going to be a reality. It's the paradigm shift that's important, not nessicarily how good the quality is right now. Plus, I know musicians who can get studio quality out of their home studios. It just takes some talent and elbow grease.

Home Studios (2)

clifyt (11768) | more than 13 years ago | (#440394)

it isn't so much that home studios are breaking the hold of the recording companies, its that the recording companies are becoming home studios.

Most of the name producers I know, have home studios as powerful as the ones they have at work. They may not have acoustic chambers or other stuff, but they got enough to record a rawk act.

I've got a pretty rudimentary studio right now...a several keyboards, a few computers a few racks and stuff, and its more powerful than the studios I had paid $50 an hour for in the late 80s. Hell, my Powerbook alone is more powerful than most of these places.

The shift has already started. People record most of their tracks at home, then only go into the studio when they need either a producer or equipment they don't have. I don't have good vocal mics, or a vocal booth, the few folks I've recorded at my place end up tracking everything but the vocals at my place. Hell with the new Antaries Mic Modeller and some noise reduction software, I could stick the singer infront of an expensive reference mic in my walk in closet and most folks wouldn't know the difference.

If ya are interested in home studios, take a stroll on down to [] and read through our forums. Several in our community are well known producer types as well as a few name musicians ('ll have to read for a while before ya figure any of them out though). We are all working on integrating studio technology into the home and we don't care if yer using PCs Macs Be Linux or even Ataris (lots of our european audience are still using old Atari STs I believe...)


Re:What's in store? (1)

xDe (264660) | more than 13 years ago | (#440395)

Using a microphone. Which converts an audio signal into an analogue electrical signal, which is then converted by A-D converters in your soundcard to a digital signal. The quality of the results is dependant both on the quality of the microphone, and the quality of the A-D converters (which are usually poor quality in consumer soundcards).

Re:Here it is (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 13 years ago | (#440396)

Check this out:
5.The CD is burned, and sent to a local radio station.
6.The radio station play it, and it's a hit. Other stations ask for the song
Won't happen. You can bet your ass that this would be in violation of some contract or even some law that the RIAA has foisted upon the radio station...


Home studios (2)

nnet (20306) | more than 13 years ago | (#440397)

None of this is really news, home recording equipment costs have plummeted since the initial introduction of the TEAC PortaStudio cassette multitracker many years ago.

I wrote/recorded my own music on a home studio, mp3s of some of them are available at [] .

The notion of relying on a big record company is absurd to me, but then I'm not trying to make a living playing music anymore, I write/record/release my material for the PEOPLE, not the corporations. I know there are people that enjoy freely available music, and my music in particular, so have at it.

Recording studios not relevant (3)

blakestah (91866) | more than 13 years ago | (#440398)

Young band makes it on the local scene.

They cut a CD, because it is fairly easy, and nowadays everyone is doing it.

They go nowhere.

Record company comes along, and offers to make them rock stars, if they will sign over all copyright for 10 years and guarantee 7 new CDs, with an opt out for the recording company if the band crashes and burns. This is the dilemma. The band either joins the market forces and potentially becomes rich, or tries to make it on their own, and dies poor.

Access to recording studios has been costly, but never a limiting factor. Recording studios PROMOTE artists with ways and means beyond that of any garage band.

And we all KNOW good marketing and sales beats a good product every time. Look at Iomega and Syquest. CP/M and DOS. Heck, look at ANY Microsoft product.

Napster is nice for making the bands closer to their fans, but AIRTIME and PROMOTION with lots of CASH will continue to make bands.

Re:It works... (1)

fizban (58094) | more than 13 years ago | (#440418)

It sounded like a professional studio recording because all of the samples he used were probably recorded in a professional studio. Acid is just a loop machine. It doesn't do actual sound production itself, which is what the article was mainly focussing on.

BUT, that being said, it is definitely a cool program and allows people to create high quality stuff on their home PCs, even if the sounds themselves weren't created on a home PC.


Re:What about distribution (1)

alen (225700) | more than 13 years ago | (#440419)

Then we come around full circle to some sort of secure music. Artists do want to get paid. And reading some Internet message boards, there are a lot of people who want free music thru Napster. Until there is some way to secure music, I don't see this becoming very successful. Without a source of income how will the artists pay rent and for their computers, much less purchase food. Until a secure music format comes along I see this as a hobby for the wanna be's, but not as a serious career. If you don't believe me that artists want to get paid, Hollywood is a perfect example. Screenwriters, actors and a host of other people behind the scenes want to get paid on a per copy basis, rather than one time payments. They want it so much they might go on strike this summer.

Re:What's wrong at slashdot? (1)

Schnedt McWhatever (313008) | more than 13 years ago | (#440420)

Maybe Slashdot is growing up. I can see where possibly this site is now a 'partner' with the NY Times and referrer data will be collected, etc.

That's what the 'partner' co-site is for, ya know.

movies vs. music and copying (1)

drfireman (101623) | more than 13 years ago | (#440421)

Almost necessarily, the technology that makes it easy for dedicated artists to produce music cheaply also makes it difficult to protect that music from being redistributed illicitly. I would personally welcome this in music. I don't think the big music money-grubbing machine is contributing much to the quality of music. At risk of losing some talented people who happen to be in it for the money, it would be nice to make room for talented people whose work gets smothered by the big studio releases.

But what about movies? Short of large computer generated casts and scenery, it's hard to imagine certain types of movies being produced cheaply. Although graphics are getting better, it seems like a certainty that widespread sharing of DVD-quality video will precede the point at which someone could produce, say, The Sound of Music on weekends at home. So how much longer will there be an incentive to produce $50million blockbusters? Although I enjoy low-budget independent films as much as the next guy, and I have a serious issue with blockbusters, I think there's good reason for concern that certain types of movies will no longer be produced by anyone.

Re:question (1)

Schnedt McWhatever (313008) | more than 13 years ago | (#440422)

The truth of the matter is, however, that many of us have a degree of musical talent, and that music is a social activity, not a 'consumer product.' This is cool stuff and really part of the 'new media revolution' as opposed to couch potatos passing the same dreck back and forth that none of them produced (i.e. 'top fourty' stuff traded on napster)

Everybody can make music. Not everybody can make music that lots of people will want to listen to, but plenty more than are currently publicised can and should be. I'm bidding on a contra-bass clarinet on eBay right now, for example. I wanna be the bass player in a band.

Why this works (2)

Hamfist (311248) | more than 13 years ago | (#440423)

first off, I'd like to point at this article on salon by Courtney Love about the money an artist makes. index.html Now, if an artist or group foots the bill themselves and manages to get 2 bucks a CD while touring, are they gonna make more or less than a record deal if they handle all the promotion? How many CD's do they need to sell to turn a profit? IF they use Napster as a promotional tool, and give away some music they could easily recoup their investment and make some money by selling off a website. Once more musicians realise that self promotion can net them more dollars in the end, I suspect a lot of artists will ignore the big labels. College and Internet Radio are excellent promotional tools. To make money as an artist with a recording contract, you need to sell millions of copies. To do it without, you only need to sell thousands.

Re:Studio{n} Quality work (2)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 13 years ago | (#440424)

I think the real point though, is that in the not to distant future, home recording with studio quality is going to be a reality.

Perhaps, but my point was that they won't be doing it with sub par equipment. They still need a quiet (preferably sound-proofed) place to record, and good microphones. What the author was, I think, trying to say was that the PC is going to soon be replacing the mixer and studio setup. Since the PC is multi purpose, it is cheaper and takes up less space. I'm amazed he got an entire article out of that.

It just takes some talent and elbow grease.

That's a copout if I ever heard one. The fact is that it takes talent and elbow grease no matter where you are or what setup you are using. I somehow think that it is invariably obvious that when a team of professionals and a studio is replaced with some people (experienced or otherwise) and a PC, there is going to be extra work and lower quality. (Don't quote me on that lower-quality thing. With the advent of pop-smear bands and the crap that pollutes out airwaves, it wouldn't surprise me if my little brother (13) could make a hit on that level.)


Re:Recording studios not relevant (2)

Ryandav (5475) | more than 13 years ago | (#440425)

One can (if a bit wistfully) think that indeed, perhaps people can take their music back. Studios are not people. They are large artificial constructs held together by predictable laws of capital and profit. Perhaps by being the hoi polloi, the numerous, the People, by gum, we can remove them from power and put People before Corporations, instead of vice versa.

Dang, I'm getting all philosophical...

This is true... (4)

typedef (139123) | more than 13 years ago | (#440426)

Just listen to the high quality of this [] mp3. Can you believe this is self produced? Its amazing what you can do with computers these days. I envision that the corporate entity of music that we know today will eventually be replaced with a culture built off of self expression rather than making money. For a couple more of this artist's mp3's check here [] and here [] .

It is a brave new world (2)

Ergo2000 (203269) | more than 13 years ago | (#440444)

Recently I've taken to visiting a lot and truly it is an excellent place to find lots of unsigned, small, basement artists works. While I have yet to venture into any section including vocals (which is usually where the difference between professionals and amateurs comes SHINING THROUGH. Even if you have a good singer, which is rare, a good vocal producer does amazing things), and I have stuck almost primarily to techno, I've found some amazing stuff. The irony is that while most of the people on Slashdot are always yapping their mouth without the interaction of their brains, and defending Napster as this great new medium for garage bands (which is pure bullshit), (and many others) has been there all along ACTUALLY doing something for the little guy. Hell I'm seeing some of these no namers with earnings over $100K so it's good to see that they are being rewarded for what they do.

Of course I would like to find some good review sites for this stuff as while I've found some good stuff, I've found a boatload of completely unoriginal, amateur, juvenile rip-off ware. That's the one detriment to an open forum : When any wank can put something together there isn't that critical wall that has to be overcome (preceeding the replies : Yes I realize there are Backdoor Boys and Britney Spears out there, however they too (along with their cadre of cohorts) had to go over the wall related to the genre they deal in), it can mean endless searching by us end users which is annoying.

another example... (2)

acroyear (5882) | more than 13 years ago | (#440445) [] is another one of those "made @ home 'cause its too easy to do it now" record labels, this one by Cape Breton (Nova Scotia) artists Tracey Dares and Paul MacNeil. To summarize, they recorded it in their kitchen, just the piano, bagpipes, and friends on various instruments like fiddles.

About the only thing with all-accoustic recording @home (even if you have great resonance in the room being used) is that it can still have difficulties in the mixdown -- instruments will tend to cross over from one mic to the next ("Drum microphones record everything" -- R.Fripp) can't get that isolation that modern studios do with plexglass and separated instruments where each is recording their own in a near sound-proof room, listening to the others on headphones...

Re:Music vs Hamburgers (4)

gilroy (155262) | more than 13 years ago | (#440446)

Blockquoth the poster:
It doesn't matter that home studios can produce high quality music, the thing that the big labels have over little guys is not quality but marketing (and, for that matter, market power over retailers).
No, not really. What McDonald's has is an infrastructure in place for producing and distributing those burgers. Sure, I can make a few hamburgers that are better than McDonalds, but I'd probably pale at having to serve a few million such burgers.

But look further: The article makes the point that this technology will pose a threat to the Media Moguls when coupled to Net-based distribution systems. To my eye, there seem to be three major areas where the RIAA, traditionally, has held the cards:

  1. Production
  2. Marketing
  3. Distribution
These new systems remove the first. Naptser, MP3s, etc., remove the last. As for the middle: they've never been as good at this as they've claimed, and the Net provides a new medium that, by all accounts, they fail to understand.

The RIAA is being out-evolved, and good riddance.

Re:Yeah! (1)

wtmcgee (113309) | more than 13 years ago | (#440447)

thanks for brightning up my morning, that was rather funny.

My effort (5)

Sludge (1234) | more than 13 years ago | (#440448)

I've always been a computer enthusiast, and for the last seven or so years I've also been a guitar player. I became interested in the idea of recording myself with my computer some time after I started jamming and I wanted to find counter melodies to lines I was writing without needing another human being around. I started experimenting with CakeWalk and some lame audio recorders, trying tricks out like throwing my mic in the soundhole of my hollowbody acoustic guitar.

I learnt pretty fast that recording maybe twelve seconds of music and looping it is a serious bitch with the hardware I had in that day, never mind multitracking a song for production. Back then, I had a SoundBlaster Pro, 16 megabytes of RAM and a p75.

Two years later I was at a friend's house clicking icons when I found out he had Cooledit Pro installed. I hadn't ever seen anything like this before. Although it was buggy and the filters were painfully slow, there was enough tech there to throw together a song.

Pretty soon after that, I hooked up with modplug (a win32 freeware mod editor) and I tracked this song [] . Modplug was used to do all of the background music and computer generated notes, and real guitars were layered overtop with the aforementioned multitracking software.

This was recorded on a celeron 300 w/ 128 megs of RAM, no SCSI hardware, a $50 guitar and a SB Awe32. I was learning how to use the software, and it took me about a month's worth of time that I had to steal off my friend's machine.

One of the biggest losses is the full duplex recording mode of the Awe32. The recording quality goes right out the window when you start playback. I ended up having to use noise reduction filters, which also sacrificed my overall audio quality.

I recorded all guitar tracks dry because my setup was so poor. Any overdrive/distortion you hear is the result of post-production. I hear you're supposed to do it this way so you can add or remove effects, but most pro musicians get to hear themselves playing overdriven guitar while recording dry to get themselves into the mood. :)

All in all, my hardware wasn't enough to produce a quality track, and it wasn't able to be done in a timely fashion. Nowadays, I've gotten out of highschool, and I have some more spending money. I've picked up an Ibanez RG Series guitar and an RP2000 effects modeling unit, as well as a k7-750 w/ 256 megs of ram and a SBLive (which does full duplex a lot nicer). I'm gonna give it another shot, after the CTF paks are released. (See homepage URL :) )

Re:What about distribution (1)

MrProgrammer (165021) | more than 13 years ago | (#440449)

"Until a secure music format comes along I see this as a hobby for the wanna be's, but not as a serious career"

With websites like, artists get paid by the download (since they are bringing in views of the banner adds and such) I know of several artists who have hit it big there and have made several hundred thousand dollars. They have quit their jobs and are doing music full time now. Granted, thats a real hard place for artists to get to, but it is possible.

The record companies are dead meat (2)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 13 years ago | (#440450)

They're fighting for their lifes now, so of course they fight dirty. You would too. In the long run (10-20 years) they don't have a chance.

Re:Music vs Hamburgers (3)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 13 years ago | (#440451)

I'd like to reply to this before the masses latch hold and drag it down. You are so right, it hurts. What the music labels have are huge networked stations on radio, tv, and the web. MTV has an enormous impact on society and those that worship it (MTV). It is a religion for today's youth; what they say goes. There is no thought involved. No conscious choice. They say, "buy!!" and we say, "how many copies?"

Breaking into a market like that is simply not possible, especially with the price of admission. Last I heard, most of those 3-6 minute videos cost between $100K and $1M. I don't care how many PCs you have, that ain't gonna get you a spot on MTVs top ten list.

Also: the web is a big argument when things like this come up. While the web is a great place to store and distribute, it does not (yet, and I believe never will) have a huge and significant impact on the mass purchases done by any given demographic (ok, maybe geeks.. but I digress).


Re:Home studios (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | more than 13 years ago | (#440452)

I keep seeing this "already been there with the portastudio" and it's driving me insane. During the time that the portastudio came out, 2" 24 track tape was the primary recording medium. How does the sound of something recorded on a portastudio compare to something recorded on a professional 2" tape machine? It doesn't.

With the advent of high-quality low-cost multichannel sound cards (actually, as the price of good analog/digital convertors continues to decline), the recording quality of a song recorded at a home studio is now rivalling that of something recorded at the professional studio.

The quality of a portastudio was never even remotely comparable to a professional studio.


Scary Laws That Benefit Content Producers: AKA Us (2)

Nightspore (102270) | more than 13 years ago | (#440453)

While the RIAA/MPAA lobby for more draconian content protection laws daily, the reality is that more and more people continue to opt out of mainstream content consumption. Most of my friends are into underground music, favor independent or foreign films, watch little to no television, read independent news media sources and ignore radio outside of college, pirate or public stations. Further, more and more of us are becoming our own audio/video/radio/print content producers.

Perhaps we should let Hollwood spend all of their money running concertina wire and digging trenches around copyright. They are less and less the ones making content anybody gives a shit about. Sure, the've got some promotional/synergistic inertia left from the glory days of Big Media, but that advantage is eroding fast. Who really cares anymore if you own a TV network, radio stations and a chain of newspapers? I can do all that and more in my basement for $2,500.

Disney got skewered on the internet because they couldn't monopolize an infinitely expandable virtual space where it was all too easy for people to route around their banal corporate pap.

Go RIAA! Go MPAA! Spend yourselves into the ground protecting the music and movies we'll all be making and watching without you!


Re:What about distribution (1)

kgb23rd (94159) | more than 13 years ago | (#440454)

I've been running a simular thought through my head. I want to start a music project, and run it the way a free software project would be run. Lots of musicians collaborating. Some a lot, some a little. Some providing samples. Some doing arrangements. Some folks doing artwork & promotion. Maybe distributing through [] ? I already have my music [] on and it's a pretty fair deal, it seems.

not likely (1)

brad3378 (155304) | more than 13 years ago | (#440455)

There's more to making high quality music than just having some software on a PC. Don't expect PCs to just come along and completely replace professional sound studios. It takes a special talent that you can't just pick up a book and teach yourself to aquire the right "ear" for professional quality recording.

....Not to mention the huge expenses these guys put into the sound rooms. (i.e. Special walls & sound insulating materials)

I've got a lot of respect for these guys, and the talent they possess, but I don't fear many of them losing their jobs to this phenomenon.

Re:Maybe now artists can retain ownership (2)

firewort (180062) | more than 13 years ago | (#440456)

I listen to Les Paul all the time-

And you contradict yourself. You first say that an expensive room is necessary. then you say that Les had mics over the kitchen sink. I really doubt that kitchen sinks are conducive to good acoustics.

My answer is, you can put anachoic tile and foam anywhere and get a good room, but if you just try mics in different locations in your house, you'd be surprised at how good some creative locations can sound!

A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close

Re:What about distribution (1)

kgb23rd (94159) | more than 13 years ago | (#440458)

(Yes, I replied to myself)

So how does someone get a free software project rolling? How do you get the word out?

Makes sense ... (1)

HerringFlavoredFowl (170182) | more than 13 years ago | (#440459)

To give you a little background I spent a few years doing college radio at WITR [] . We always had bands ask if they could use our studio's to get a little recording time in. Like computers, the main thing I noticed was that much of the specialized audio equipment kept getting cheaper and better. In my last few years I noticed many of the bands we worked with often had equipment on par if not better than ours, This is a good trend... This was also the period (1992-1997) when we switched all of our production from the 4 track to the computer... It was very easy to do and we ended up with doing more higher quality internal production. (And yes I know many 4 track wizarsds that would argue you can never get better than true analog production)

Ask yourself how many bands started out in the garage...

How many bands recorded there first release at a local college station?

How many bands could really do a first release on a personal computer with a couple hundred dolars worth of sound gear?

How many bands could sell CD's burned with a CD-R on personal computer at shows?

I have lost count of the number of people I know/have known that have personal studios setup in basements,garages and barns.

Re: What's in store? (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | more than 13 years ago | (#440460)

This is where sh!t starts to get weird and unfortunately starts to sound eliteist. The idea that a SM58 is going to produce sound quality even remotely similar to a studio condenser is absurd. The 58 is an excellent general purpose microphone but the idea that the only time you would want anything better is when recording an orchestra is pretty wrong. This is the mentality that plagues the home studio. Because the price of the computer hardware has dropped, the home engineer applies this valuation method to other audio apparatus as well. The difference between a $200 microphone and a $3000 microphone is like night and day, the difference between a Mackie preamp and a Great River or Presonus preamp is like night and day. Just because you dont have to buy a $30,000 tape machine anymore in order to get good recordings doesn't mean that anything else has changed.


Re:Here it is (2)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#440461)

There are 'promotion' companies that set the playlist for radio stations.. Your right.
The radio station play it, and it's a hit. Other stations ask for the song does not happen

take a look at (1)

lupa (218669) | more than 13 years ago | (#440462)

their gig might give you some idea of how to structure something similar. they're not truly successful yet, but they do have a small devoted following.

Re:What about distribution (1)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 13 years ago | (#440473)

Some people would argue that musicians should give away their music as MP3s (or "Ogg", since said people are usually against proprietary algorithms as well) and then set up a virtual "tip jar" on their website where people can give them a buck or two via a PayPal account if they like the song. There have even been formal proposals for such things, like the Street Performer Protocol [] . I've yet to hear of an instance of such a thing actually allowing someone to become successful musician. Note: I don't mean that someone should eclipse the Beatles in terms of riches and fame before such a scheme can be declared a success -- I just would have though that by now there would have been at least one or two minor success stories. As far as I know, no one has yet been able to so much as just pay the rent by producing writing, art, or music and giving it out using the Street Performer Protocol (or any similar schemes). Sure, there was Stephen King's "The Plant", but that's not a fair test, since he's already the most successful novelist of all time. How about a "nobody" just starting out being able to pay their bills based on "tips" or "donations" that come in as a result of their art?

Re:Studio{n} Quality work (1)

ScumBiker (64143) | more than 13 years ago | (#440474)

What the hell is "Pop-smear"?

Dive Gear []

Re:Here it is (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | more than 13 years ago | (#440475)

There is no law or regulation that prevents it from happening, aside from the regulation that states "the record label must grease the palm of the programming director before any single gets airplay".
Many radio stations do have 5 or 10 minutes a day in which they feature local artists.


Re:Maybe now artists can retain ownership (1)

bdhall1313 (202306) | more than 13 years ago | (#440476)

"The most expensive part of a recording studio is a good sounding room...And don't even think of recording drums in most rooms."

This is not that expensive. Put 1/2" styrofoam on the walls and then cover that with carpet scraps.

Re:What's in store? (1)

Wansu (846) | more than 13 years ago | (#440477)

1.Since the sound depends on the accoustic qualities of the recording environment professional studios still have a significant advantage, in being able to afford properly accoustically designed and treated rooms.

You're quite right. The room is critical. Acoustics aren't easy to fix in the mix later.

Good mikes are ex$pen$ive. You can spend a small fortune on those alone. Try miking up a drum kit.

It's surely easier to set up a good home studio than ever before but it's still going to cost more than many people are willing to spend. Home studios really became affordable about 20 years ago when the cost of many previously unaffordable pieces of equipment, like 24 track tape machines, became affordable. I helped a friend of mine set up a studio business. Ultimately the business went under. I got my fill of that. I like playing music but not watching grown men in heated arguements over the effects of tweaking the treble boost on one channel of a mixer some fraction of a radian. This type of shit would go on for hours and I couldn't discern any difference. If we'd had one of today's computers back then, it would have been fodder for even more artsy fartsy arguments. Getting material recorded is probably the least of a budding band's worries anyway.

Re:Music vs Hamburgers (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | more than 13 years ago | (#440478)

Also: the web is a big argument when things like this come up. While the web is a great place to store and distribute, it does not (yet, and I believe never will) have a huge and significant impact on the mass purchases done by any given demographic (ok, maybe geeks.. but I digress).

I dont agree with this. Offspring is currently #1 in alternative on . I don't listen to them and no "geek" that I know does. So someone is listening to them and its gotta be the same demographic that pushes them to #1 on billboard's charts.


This article is about 25 years out of date. (1)

lamz (60321) | more than 13 years ago | (#440479)

"Nowadays, anyone with some talent, a PC and a couple of peripherals and good mikes can produce music which would have required spending weeks in an expensive professional recording studio five years ago."

Actually, the PC can do what a Mac could do 10 years ago, what some rented analog gear could do 15 years ago, and what the punks started doing over 25 years ago.

A short history on music production and distribution:

In the mid 1970s, FM ruled the airwaves. DJs would play whatever track they wanted off of an album, unlike AM radio, which only played songs released as "singles" on 45 rpm records. This means that there were two broad classes of bands, pop groups and artists like Barry Manilow that released singles, and rock groups like Rush and Led Zeppelin that released albums. In today's terms, pop bands would be N-Sync, while rock bands would be Korn.

There were about 30 different record labels around the world, and they would select bands, pay them to make albums, then pay them a bit more if the albums did well. Bands that were destined for AM radio would be paid to record one song at a time, and would largely be forgotten afterwards. The 'real' artists behind such bands were usually the record producers. Think about The Spice Girls--any five British girls with big tits could have replaced them--it was the people who wrote the songs, recorded them, then designed a 'look' for the girls that deserve the credit.

At any rate, the tone of almost all the music was 'contentment.' From Genesis to Alice Cooper to Led Zeppelin, these people were pretty happy with life. Then came the punks.

No self-respecting velour and corduroy-wearing record rep wanted anarchists on their band line-up. These guys didn't sing--they just screamed! And they barely knew how to play their instruments! So the punk DIY ethic was born. (Do It Yourself.) Grabbing studio time wherever they could, they recorded their own songs, usually in one take, with no over-dubs, because studio time was too expensive. Anyway, it didn't matter that the recording quality sucked, because as musicians, they weren't that great. The power of the music lay in the incredible anger and rage. They would take their songs and release them the cheapest way possible--as 45 rpm singles, or sometimes, they would cram a dozen songs on a 45, but press it at 33 1/3, so they could fit around 20 short songs on it.

Small record labels were started, and they did quite well for themselves, because they didn't have high-rise offices full of coke-snorting executives to fund. The band or the small record label got to keep all the money for each record that was sold.

Which brings us to the 1980s. The big record labels were sort of freaked out that these DIY punk bands were starting to cut into their profits. It's hard to push a slick-sounding band like Trooper when The Dickies are what the kids really want to hear. So the labels started signing all the punk and ex-punk musicians they could find, and instead of letting them do their thing, they forced a much more polished sound on them, since they were still using their contented 1970s style producers. The result was New Wave, and it sucked big time. The music was overly sterile and passionless. (Compare Public Image Limited to The Sex Pistols--both had the same lead singer.) The musical format of choice was the 12" single--a full size analog disc with only one or two songs on it, and often a bunch of remixes of those songs. The real punks were all dead from heroin overdoses, and the pseudo-punk New Wave bands eventually morphed into all that dance shit that is still being played in clubs today--billed as 80s retro.

Anyway, that brings us to the late 80s and early 90s. The big labels have all consolidated into a half a dozen huge multinationals. 90% of all music heard by the masses is controlled by these few companies. FM stations have discarded their album-rock format in favour of AM-style singles. Even if there are better songs on the album, they wait until a label 'releases' a song before they play it. (This is now a largely symbolic act, since all the songs are on the same CD. The stations just wait for the go-ahead from the labels to start playing the next chosen song. They are totally in the pockets of the big labels, and in many cases, are all owned by the same huge company.)

The next generation of DIY music is coming to a boil: Rap, Industrial, various forms of Metal--bands like Skinny Puppy, Public Enemy, Metallica (yes, they were cool once,) are either releasing through small labels, or are starting their own labels. The big labels are scared, and so they attack the DIYers on three fronts:
  • 1. Copycat bands. Like the Monkees in the 1970s, copycat bands are pushed hard by the big labels. Vanilla Ice is pushed to white kids who like rap, Motley Crue is pushed to white kids who like metal, an uncountable number of bands that sound like Pearl Jam are pushed on everyone.
  • 2. Buy the small labels or bands. Nirvana, who got started on SubPop, are snapped up for huge amounts of money. SuperChunk is promised a million dollars if only they'll sign. Helmet gets a million for recording Meantime, and their album Strap It On, originally released on Amphetimine Reptile, is re-released on a major label. It's funny, because major labels never new what was cool, and now they didn't even know what would sell any more. They waited for a band to 'make it' on their own, then they bought them out.
  • 3. Country. One day all the media whores woke up and proclaimed that country was regaining popularity! There are no facts to support their argument, but if you keep saying it often enough, eventually the great unwashed masses start believing it. The year was 1991. The number one music genre, in terms of record sales, is Rap. Public Enemy and NWA sell the most records in that number one genre, yet the Rap award for the Grammys was not televised. The only "rap" act to perform on TV is Vanilla Ice. Why country? It's safe. It's contented. It's performed by white people. It sounds like 70s soft-rock. And the soft-rock scene of the 70s is the last time the big labels had total control. New Country is a return to paradise for the suits.

Anyway, now its the year 2001, and what's an independent spirt to do? Troll through and find stuff you like. Get yourself some audio software and make your own techno and upload it--you don't even need a microphone! Stop listening to the radio. The radio has never represented a generation's music since the Boomers. Listen to streaming mp3. If a band releases a single, but it's on some weird propriety format instead of mp3, then fuck them. Don't even download it. But if you do, convert it to mp3 and stick it in your GNUtella.

Mike van Lammeren

Re:What about distribution (1)

lupa (218669) | more than 13 years ago | (#440480)

"I can't image listening to streaming audio from the net in my car while driving into work just yet!"

well, i know for a fact that the folks who brought you imagine radio (now radio sonicnet) are working on that very thing - that as well as streaming to your PDA. it's not going to come within the next few months, but it's pending :>

Re:What about distribution (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 13 years ago | (#440481)

My understanding is that musicians make much more from personal appearances than they ever do from music sales. Apparently, most of the money generated by CDs remains with the record companies.

That said, it would seem to me that as the forces of copyright (the record companies) succeed in closing down the free music feed that's been going on for a while, people who are willing to release their music gratis via the web will gain more and more notice. Perhaps enough to justify those lucrative 'personal appearances'. (In addition to website hits, etc)


Re:another example... (1)

bdhall1313 (202306) | more than 13 years ago | (#440482)

"About the only thing with all-accoustic recording @home (even if you have great resonance in the room being used) is that it can still have difficulties in the mixdown -- instruments will tend to cross over from one mic to the next ("Drum microphones record everything""

To get the best quality, you just record one instrument or vocal part at a time. First record the whole group on one track. That is your reference track. Then have each person play their part alone (while listening to the reference track through headphones) and put that on a track by itself. For mixdown you discard the reference track and have complete control over each track with no crossover.

Here's how recording studios screwed themselves. (2)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | more than 13 years ago | (#440483)

The recording studios brought this on themselves by introducing digital recording systems (such as Protools) into their studios.

As I mentioned in a previous post, audio engineering is not about acccurate sound reproduction, it's about coloring the sound so that it sounds aethetically pleasing. Prior to the advent of digital recordings, 2" analog tape machines were used to record. 2" tape machines color the sound in a particular way, tape naturally compresses the highs. Microphones such as the Neumann U87 (considered one of the best microphones in the world for over a decade) produce a particular frequency response curve that, when coupled with the natural compression and saturation characteristics of analog tape, produced a sound that audio engineers determined was aesthetically pleasing. People grew accustomed to tape's tonal characteristics.

When digital systems entered the picture, a change took place. The same microphones that sounded great on tape sounded completely different when recorded digitally. This is due to the absence of tape's natural compression and saturation characteristics. Studios could not at first determine how to resolve the issue and many of the first digitally-recorded works sounded like crap.

This is where the recording studios screwed the pooch. When record labels released those first few years of harsh-sounding digitally recorded albums, the music consumers were introduced to a new set of tonal characteristics. Harsh and over-trebled recordings became acceptable. Where in the past the warm sound of 2" analog tape was the only accepted sound, suddenly albums sounded vastly different as engineers struggled to compensate for digital's "lack of warmth" (which was caused by using microphones designed to compensate for tape's uneven frequency response). All of the sudden the bar was dropped. Songs no longer had to have this particular sound associated with a $30,000 tape machine. In just a few years, as ADAT increased in popularity, home studios were able to produce albums rivalling big studios. The gap narrows daily.

I do see multiple posters in this thread who seem to think that because a $30,000 tape machine is no longer required to make a good recording that decent quality microphones and preamps are no longer needed either. While the digital audio revolution has really made music consumers accept (or learn to live with?) a wide variety of sound quality in modern recording, the difference between an inexpensive mic (SM58, etc) and preamp (Mackie) and quality mics (Neumann TLM103) and preamps (Great River, Presonus) are still like night and day.


Re:Studion Quality work (1)

matt-fu (96262) | more than 13 years ago | (#440484)

1) You don't need Beyer mics to do good recording. It's nice, but hardly necessary.

2) Stuff like the SM57 are the workhorse of the studio world, and not very expensive.

Could software solve the problems you name? (2)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 13 years ago | (#440485)

First, I won't be that surprised if we start hearing a lot more music made with lower production values.

It would be cool, though, if software could be used to make good mikes cheaper, or to solve the soundproofing problem. Could we build directional mikes with interferometary implemented on the PC? Is there a way of making mikes cheaper that introduces a systematic distortion that could be undone after capture? Could we do "active soundproofing" with extra mikes away from the main mike, that capture information about what extraneous noise will be arriving so it can be dulled in postprocessing?

In general, the purely digital end of things improves with Moore's Law and gets cheap fast while the analogue end improves very slowly and stays expensive. If there were ways of pushing the burden over to the digital end to make the analogue end easier, that could be a route to making things cheaper.

Genuine question, is this a mistaken hope?

My own music, my own studio (1)

The Gline (173269) | more than 13 years ago | (#440486)

Check the URL. I've been doing music on my PC for four years now that (IMO) sounds as good as anything in a studio. I've got as many tracks as I need, 96kHz digital recording, etc., etc. Of course, my need may not be everyone's...

Re: What's in store? (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#440487)

The idea that a SM58 is going to produce sound quality even remotely similar to a studio condenser is absurd.

Absolutely. But good condenser microphones are starting to get cheaper (Conneaut Audio Devices) and affordable high-quality mixing boards are much cheaper (remember those monster boards you had to have?) Most home studios can get by with a recording area, a couple of decent condenser microphones, decent preamps and a good set of ADCs. It won't be Abbey Road, but the quality will be very good. The real problems with most of the home-studio recordings I've heard have much less to do with equipment quality than from just plain poor mixing and production.

Re:What about distribution (3)

keesh (202812) | more than 13 years ago | (#440488)

How did one unknown hacker get his operating system onto the walls of computer shops? I know there's a big difference between music and Linux, but the same basic principles could still apply.

If one newsgroup message was enough to start off Linux, maybe something similar could start off the next generation of music...

Re:What about distribution (1)

richieb (3277) | more than 13 years ago | (#440489)

CDs are soooo 20th century. Go to the artist's web site and get the MP3s...


UK perspective: Recording companies (1)

caveman (7893) | more than 13 years ago | (#440490)

One of the problems, atleast over here in the UK is that the recording companies are also the major record distributors, and virtually no high street shop (Woolworths, WH Smith, Our Price, Virgin, etc.) will deal with people outside of these select few companies.

While the internet revolution will undoubtedly get small-time musicians a channel to get their work out to a new audience, the traditional audience, whose only connection with the internet is via a closed set-top-box that just happens to do Email, will not be able to buy these records unless they are taken up by the big distributors.

So, the barriers to entry into the music market, which as an artist, is probably the only way to make a living at it, are still very firmly in place.

Just my 2

Music vs Hamburgers (3)

CarrotLord (161788) | more than 13 years ago | (#440492)

It doesn't matter that home studios can produce high quality music, the thing that the big labels have over little guys is not quality but marketing (and, for that matter, market power over retailers). Think about it -- how many of us can make a better burger than McDonalds? I know I can. But I don't have the marketing clout that McD's have, so no matter how hard I try, until I get big-time marketing resources behind me, I won't sell as many burgers as McD's, and in fact, won't even present a threat to them. Likewise, Sony and friends are not going to be worried about small-time producers stealing their market, because they have the marketing dollars to ensure that it doesn't happen.


Here it is (3)

autocracy (192714) | more than 13 years ago | (#440495)

Check this out:
  1. Band comes up with a good song
  2. Band can't go to recording studio, label doesn't want to carry them...
  3. Band spends a few bucks made from playing at local places to buy some tech.
  4. They hook up the tech to their buddy's computer and start recording
  5. The CD is burned, and sent to a local radio station.
  6. The radio station play it, and it's a hit. Other stations ask for the song
  7. People are really hearing it now, so they start checking it out on Napster.
Now, I know that there is some way for them to get a profit out of all this (probably concerts rather than CDs...), but for most people it's all about being heard. Why do you think we post on Slashdot anyway?

You have now just witnessed the death of an industry!

The problem with capped Karma is it only goes down...

Re:What about distribution (1)

stu_coates (156061) | more than 13 years ago | (#440496)

If home recording is going to be the future of recording, the net and not HMV/WalMart/etc. will probably be the future of distribution. With the likes of Napster allowing "swapping" between individuals, and web sites allowing downloads (or streaming) of tracks to the wider population.

I think the bigger issue is how do artists get airplay on the more traditional mediums such as radio. Much of the radio content (certainly here in the UK) is controlled by record labels who lobby the station owners to get on the playlists. I can't image listening to streaming audio from the net in my car while driving into work just yet!

Re:What about distribution (1)

alen (225700) | more than 13 years ago | (#440499)

And Stephen King stopped publishing "The Plant" because people were downloading, but not paying. The whole idea of a starving artist turning out art, just for the sake of artw hile living in poverty is a fantasy. Everybody wants to be paid for their work. Personally I find it ironic that a bunch of programmers or other techies who make somewhere around six figures(US) are advocating that a group of people give away the fruit of their labors for free. I challenge that person to run a network or write code for a few months for minimum wage salary.

Don't be so sure (1)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 13 years ago | (#440500)

Breaking into a market like that is simply not possible, especially with the price of admission. Last I heard, most of those 3-6 minute videos cost between $100K and $1M. I don't care how many PCs you have, that ain't gonna get you a spot on MTVs top ten list.

Why don't you tell that to Beck? His 1994 debut album Mellow Gold was recorded at home on a four-track. He was a complete unknown at the time and certainly could not have afforded studio time, let alone a proper home studio. The video for the hit single Loser, as well as those for Pay No Mind and Beercan, were shot on a very low budget -- probably without direct support of any record label (certainly not $100,000 worth). I'd be surprised if the total actual expenses for recording the album and all three videos exceeded $1000. (Keep in mind that Nirvana's first album, Bleach, was recorded professionally in a studio for $600.)


I have a home recording rig (3)

firewort (180062) | more than 13 years ago | (#440501)

I have a home recording setup.

consists of my PC, 16 mics, four AKG, four Electro-Voice, four Shure SM58B, and two antique Electro-Voice, and two antique Shure mics, the chrome ones you always see in old movies.

The old mics have a warm sound to them that just can't be replicated with equalization and effects.

I run the mics into a Mackie 12-VLZ-PRO mixer because it has great mic preamps, and then use its outputs to go to the PC.

My PC setup consists of win98se, (and Mandrake, but where are the good digital recording apps for Linux?) a lexicon core2, which gives me 24bit 48khz with 8 inputs (4 stereo). Add Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 with plug-ins, and I've got a studio.

I then use SoundForge to make the CD from the work I've done in CakeWalk. It sounds every bit as good, and sometimes better than CDs made by the large companies that manufacture groups and music.

For all those who say recording must be done by the big companies because they hold the locks to distribution, I say there's a way to do it yourself.

Ani DiFranco has been successful distributing her own music on her own label. Online distribution methods are becoming more prevalent despite what the Big Companies/RIAA want-

Besides, if you love making music, there's nothing wrong with satisfying the urge to record without having to shell out large amounts on studio time.

It's very gratifying to be able to hand out demo cd's or make cd's for friends.
Last year, I made a cd where I played covers of my friends' favorite songs, and gave it to him for his birthday... he said it was the best present he ever got.

A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close

Re:What's in store? (2)

firewort (180062) | more than 13 years ago | (#440502)

1) Environment.

In a dedicated room in my house, I have put acoustic damping tile on the ceiling and the anachoic foam on the walls. On a budget, a mattress or cardboard eggcrate works as well.

2) Decent microphones.

Decent microphones are fairly affordable. I don't mean the $50 budget mics, but the Shure SM58 and 58b series of mics go for under $200, and are the same microphones used both on the road and in the studio by a large number of bands. Now, if I were recording a large orchestra, I might want to have spent a bit more on the microphones, but for the money, these are affordable mics that sound *good*.

In a home environment with the PC, what comes after the mic is every bit as important. You MUST have a mic preamp before the computer, and it pays to have a good one. Fortunately, Mackie produces mixers with good preamps, and have an affordable mixer. the 12vlzPro cost me under $300, and really contributes a lot to the quality of sound I get.

The sound card in the PC must be of high quality. Some people get away with using soundblasters and such, but the best way is to get a dedicated card for this purpose. Event makes the Gina, Darla, and Layla series, Lexicon makes the Core2, and E-MU Ensoniq makes the Paris system, which is 16 channels of simultaeneous 24bit wonder. (If only I had the money for that one! I bought the core2, it was under $500. the Paris was over $1000 at the time.)

A host is a host from coast to coast, but no one uses a host that's close

Another vote of confidence... (3)

double_h (21284) | more than 13 years ago | (#440503)

I've been a bedroom-studio musician for a little under a decade, and it's been really wonderful seeing how the expanse of technology has allowed me to do things that would have been difficult or impossible to do 20 years ago without an expensive studio.

As others have mentioned in this thread, Tascam's introduction of the Portastudio in the late 70s was the REAL revolution, and that was my first really important purchase. I recorded my first full tape around 1993, using a combination of acoustic instruments, Casio CZ-1000 keyboard, Tascam 4-track, and an Atari ST as a primitive sequencer/sampler. The Atari ST, at 8mhz and 4MB of RAM, could loop beats and samples at all of 8-bit 22khz I think, but it made a GREAT MIDI sequencer - it ran Cubase, and was far more stable and reliable than anything I've used on a PC.

Computers themselves have been a big part of the tech boom for musicians, but it's also driven down the price of electronics in general. For a few hundred dollars, you can pick up a used Akai or Roland sampler with power that would have cost tens of thousands of dollars a couple of decades ago. And while I'm not sold on the ability of just a PC and software to be an all-in-one production station, it's made a BIG difference. With a fast machine and a good recording card (i.e. not a consumer-level one), it's no big deal having 24 tracks or more of high-quality digital audio. And that software DOES come in handy for editing and post-production tasks, and the advent of the CD burner means that you can cut a perfect-quality copy of your work instantly -- tape hiss is a thing of the past.

Overall, I've probably spent about $3-$5K on my studio over the past decade, not counting the computer upgrades every couple of years that I would have done anyway. From this setup, I've put out at least half a dozen self-produced tapes and CDs (ranging from electronic music to psychedelic punk) that haven't made me a living, but have gotten me a couple of club gigs and radio play on both sides of the Atlantic. I think that's pretty cool. (but don't just believe me,listen for yourself [] !)

I'm really glad I got into home recording before the PC explosion hit, though, because it made me go out and learn a lot of fundamental information about sound engineering that I might not have gone out and learned otherwise. It's a GOOD thing that I don't have to fool with bouncing tracks or setting up MIDI tape sync or wrestling with quite as many patch cables as I used to, but I'm glad that I know how, since it gives me a wider perspective of recording technology. Learning how to really use a 4-track will prepare you for aspects of a full-blown studio that no amount of Cakewalking ever will. And there are countless cool effects possible with a mixer and tape recorder that are well-nigh impossible to reproduce purely in the digital domain.

So by all means, computers are great - get out there and make some music with them - but don't forget that low-tech is an important part of the picture as well.

Re:What's in store? (1)

xDe (264660) | more than 13 years ago | (#440504)

Already have done more or less this... but then, for even this you're talking about a few hundred pounds total ... it's good enough for my needs, but if you want to record more than one person at at a time/use different mic setups to improve the sound etc. the costs become much higher - at which point it starts to become more economical to rent time in a studio. My original point was that home recording suited some musicians, but isn't suitable for all.

Re:Maybe now artists can retain ownership (1)

Master Bait (115103) | more than 13 years ago | (#440505)

Yes. Not to mention those egg-carton bottoms.


Re:not likely (1)

Conrad_Bombora (225559) | more than 13 years ago | (#440506)

True... but what the computer can replace is that $50,000.99 mixing board.

MP3s are so 1990s (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#440507)

Go to the artist's web site and get the MP3s

MP3s are so late-1990s. Ogg Vorbis [] is the future. Vorbis already slightly better than MP3 at the same bitrate, and it still has room to grow.

Like Tetris? Like drugs? Ever try combining them? []

Re:Music vs Hamburgers (1)

warpeightbot (19472) | more than 13 years ago | (#440508)

[he says you can't break into MTV's market]

Parrot poop.

In case you haven't been reading, in the last two weeks there have been posted right here in this hallowed blog methods on recording both audio and video on your PC, using Free Software, no less. Now, someone familiar with the process has explained to me the difference between recording and mastering... so a friend who knows some DSP and I have got the bright idea to replicate all those neatokeen bits of hardware the mastering studios use in Free Software.... thus reducing the cost of truly great sound quality to about $2500. (The speakers alone in a mastering studio are $30,000... sheesh.)

Of course, the RIAA/MPAA crowd want to impose Big Brother digital controls on all this... but guess what, guys, those "old" CD players are still going to work for a long time. Besides, we're still selling cassettes.... and those have been around since the 8-track era.

Bottom line: We're taking over the world.... and setting it free.

(Oh, just to address the point about no impact here.... 45% of all households have a computer now. We're almost to critical mass... so if we don't jump on this thing now, we'll be late to market.)

Open Source, Open Minds.
The command line is the front line.

Re:another example... (1)

bad-badtz-maru (119524) | more than 13 years ago | (#440509)

I have found that frequently the method you describe is not possible, most noteably when recording bands that do not have much studio experience. The band gets cues off of each other when they are playing live. When you separate them out, the body-language cues are gone, the band looses the "vibe" and "energy" they get when they are playing live, and you end up recording a trillion takes and the end result still sounds like crap.


Re:question (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#440510)

Sony rarely waves $3 million in anyone's face, unless they're already a major star. Try a couple of hundred thousand, all of which will be consumed by album production costs at a major studio. And that's if you're lucky enough to get signed.

Really, the only serious reason to get signed is to take advantage of the record labels' promotional machines; they will be especially helpful if you belong to a tough-looking-but-sensitive male ensemble with a library of snappy dance moves. For those bands that fall outside this category, any way of making it without the record companies' help would be a great thing.

Re:Music vs Hamburgers (1)

radparker (115044) | more than 13 years ago | (#440511)

The web is a great place to store and distribute music if you're not in that mass-purchase demographic anyway. Like jazz, for example, which doesn't make the money that big name alternative rock does. I help local jazz musicians make and distribute their own CDs. They don't get rich, but it's really cheap and easy to set up, and it exposes them to a wider possible audience than they'd get just at home in Minnesota.

Check out my page at [] where artists sell their own CDs. I'm not involved in the transaction process, and I don't make any money off of them at all. They use a place called CCNow to handle credit card handling for them (that place charges 9% which isn't too bad) and the artists ship the stuff themselves, and receive checks from CCNow in return. Not a bad deal for somebody who wouldn't be able to do that on their own normally.

That first CD (Dean Granros), I'm most proud of, because the guy recorded it himself and mastered it to CD, and I helped him with the printing and duplication. It's amazing what you can do just with your home computer and some time. There's absolutely no need for a major label any more.

Re:What's in store? (1)

jet_silver (27654) | more than 13 years ago | (#440512)

You're thinking too small.

The same phenomenon is affecting every bit of the recording and distribution of content: there have not been enough gains in technological complexity to keep small participants out, yet the second-tier or widely available tech is increasingly top drawer. The idea of throwing patches of complexity on top of a basically accessible technology is the end game in the fight between the studios and the average guy. And it increasingly doesn't work, since the technological patches are challenging only on this generation of hardware and are fixed, then quickly disseminated by the very distribution means that looks to be the primary threat.

Think it over. Twenty years ago we had a few studios making movies, and that was it. Anything done by a bunch of people on a low budget was -obviously- low-budget, that's because the difference between a 35mm Panaflex camera and even an Arri was a couple orders of magnitude. No other technology was capable of delivering anything like 'pro' quality.

Same with sound recording. Either you had a garage band recording whose bad acoustics were a feature, or you had a 'good' recording, and the difference (purpose-designed rooms, ribbon mikes, big mixing boards and Otari tape recorders) was millions of bucks. Now, so much of this is just a non-issue that a careful person can make a recording whose quality rivals anything out of a major studio. You can fix the acoustics, even, if you work at it, but very often you don't need a physical instrument anyway. The biggest non-technological need is talent, but the talent is getting re-defined by the tech.

The problem as far as the studios are concerned is that -every step- of the creation and distribution process is feasibly done at home now. It isn't just distribution. It isn't just recording. It isn't just mixdown. It's the whole shooting match. Every phase of the business can be done at home.

A new -presentation- of art is what it would take for the studios to regain their dominance. Imagine 'feelies'. Have the recording deliver to you what the MTV bimbos -feel like- and there you have a new presentation that would sell. Now, if the tech to deliver the feelies involved an NMR scanner, a research-grade nuclear reactor and fifty square miles of land, -there- would be a barrier to participation that would vault a deep-pockets studio to its former dominance.

As long as this doesn't happen, the big studios are doomed and they know it. They are fighting a delaying action that will ultimately fail.

This leaves record companies with a few options (4)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 13 years ago | (#440513)

Record companies are not stupid. Greedy, short-sighted - some say evil - but not stupid. Their plan of attack has not been to produce better methods of distribution or *gasp* cut their pricing model to stay competitive, but rather to attack fair use [] , control [] digital content as much as possible and extend [] that control as much as possible to PCs.

But, as this article makes fairly clear, studio-quality productions are now within easy reach of anyone with a PC and a modicum of talent (some would say even the talent is optional). If you want cool new music from the best trackers [] or the best independent musicians [] make sure you keep those watching over your rights [] financially healthy.

Troll version: screw the RIAA/MPAA/Disney/Time Warner bunnies and join the EFF [] today!

Re:UK perspective: Recording companies (1)

keesh (202812) | more than 13 years ago | (#440514)

That's not entirely true. Granted, big names still make up the majority of the stuff in UK shops, but there's more and more 'unknown' stuff coming on sale. Virgin are still pretty bad, but the other big stores are getting far better.

The main way that stuff gets sold seems to be as a result of these compilation CDs -- anyone remember the Cuban Boys getting top ten? That was after they were on some compilation...

Re:Here it is (1)

tomson (100060) | more than 13 years ago | (#440515)

8. Label signs band after all
9. Label gets the dope

Believe me, if seen this happen!

Re:MP3s are so 1990s (1)

ideut (240078) | more than 13 years ago | (#440517)

Ogg Vorbis is *so* passe. There's no excuse for lossy compression these days, when CD audio can be losslessly compressed at a ratio of 2:1 and hard drives are less than three dollars a gig.

Re:What about distribution (1)

ideut (240078) | more than 13 years ago | (#440520)

NO artist has made several hundred thousand dollars from publishing their music on

How to make a low-budget film (2)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#440522)

But what about movies? Short of large computer generated casts and scenery

Which is becoming easier and easier. I could see a Quake 3 mod allowing players on a LAN to act instead of killing one another. Sure, Q3A's graphics are cartoonlike, but look how good Toy Story did (forget for a moment that it was backed by Di$ney) with its cartoon graphics. Now all you need is to know how to voice act and model your sets and virtual actors. Oh, and you need a VGA to DV converter and a video card on the "camera" computer capable of handling 1600x1200 (movie quality is approx. 1600x1000 after the top and bottom are cropped off to form the letterbox).

Although I enjoy low-budget independent films as much as the next guy, and I have a serious issue with blockbusters, I think there's good reason for concern that certain types of movies will no longer be produced by anyone.

Do you feel the same way about music, or do you really want Christina, Britney, *NSUCK, and Backstreet Boys to fill the airwaves? The content that can't stand up on its own and leans on its marketing is not the true content.

Like Tetris? Like drugs? Ever try combining them? []

Re:Music vs Hamburgers (2)

fornix (30268) | more than 13 years ago | (#440524)

Well you're absolutely right. Most people are content to eat their Big Macs and not interested in exotic cuisine. Same in music. Truely creative or soulful music is often relegated to the fringe. That won't change. But now these fringe artists are able to connect with those who are interested in something more. By fringe, I am referring to music not targeted and manufactured for 14 year old girls. Of course, it goes without saying that not everyone making music in their living room is making good music.

The best music is born out of passion, not money. Music created with the primary purpose of making money (eg Backstreet Boys, N Sync, Spice Girls..) is vacuous. This kind of music is made by formula, to the specifications of marketing departments. It has no soul, I'm afraid.

If the corporate music industry disappeared I would not miss it at all. Music was a thriving part of the human spirit long before the labels arrived on the scene. Did those poor sharecroppers need the labels to create the blues? Hell no. It was pure expression from the soul - something that was an end in itself, not a means to an end. The labels had their place in history, but will no longer be necessary or desireable IMHO. Then again, the same could be said about McDonald's - and they're not going away, but I have no further need for them. It's not hard for a talented local musician to hook up with some guy with a home studio equipped with Neumann mics, Manley preamps and Pro Tools who won't try to reshape the artist's music for to match corporate goals.

There will probably be less artists who make a living from selling recordings (precious few sell enough to do that anyway). The live music industry (where the vast majority of musicians make most of their money) won't be harmed in the least. And it might even be bolstered. I know I've gone to checkout local acts I previewed on that I wouldn't have known about otherwise.

I agree with the poster who said music should be more of a social activity than a commercial product.

yes and no - look at Guided by Voices (2)

ruebarb (114845) | more than 13 years ago | (#440525)

This will take out the basic production costs, but not necessarily marketing/promotional costs which are always high. And to be completely frank, a lot of these musicians aren't the greatest recording engineers

I think a better approach is to look at how much more of a grassroots audience you can hit. One of my favorite bands is Guided by Voices, who made a living releasing 4-track recordings for a lot of years. But if they play a show, they pack the house - Over the last few years, they've upgraded, but they're still letting lo-fi stuff out the door occasionally.

Home engineers will NEVER as good... (4)

Crixus (97721) | more than 13 years ago | (#440527)

I am an audio engineer and have had the good fortune of working in some small, medium, and high-end studios, and I can say with a great deal of certainty, that some home wannabee engineer will NEVER be able to get his mixes to sound like the big boys... PERIOD.

Why do you think the big artists and labels hire guys like Roger Nichols, Ed Cherney, and George Massenburg? (if you want to see some serious gear check out HIS stuff!) They hire them because their ears have DECADES of experience.

Home engineers using modern, inexpensive, good-sounding digital tools simply don't have the experience. And getting the good experience isn't simply a matter of working in your home studio a lot. It's a question of working as a 2nd engineer to a guy with a ton of experience. Somethings are learned in a book, others are learned by working with a master, and both a required to be good.

Home engineers also don't have reliable accoustic spaces. How do you know what you have on tape if the environment your recording in and listening in has resonances at several frequencies? You don't.

For example, I didn't know what my home listening environment (ie my computer/stereo room) truly sounded like until I finally got to mix a record in a real accoustically neutral control room in NY City, on a world class desk and a great pair of studio monitors. Getting the project home in my computer room with all of those parallel walls was a shocker... suddenly it didn't sound the same. :-) And forget about the car.... :-)

The bottom line is this. It still takes money and experience to build these good accoustic spaces and to make a TRULY wonderful record. Yes, the mic-pre's in the Mackie Digital 8-Buss sound OK, but they don't sound like a Neve 1073, an Amek 9098i, or a GML 8304, and that's for sure.

I am all for home-based digital recording studios (I've got one myself), but as long as the people running them don't have the knowledge and experience required, all they're going to produce is a decent demo-quality project.

I would however encourage all of you to continue what you're doing. Continue writing and recording your music and strive to make it great. Because who knows, maybe it is. :-)


Re:This article is about 25 years out of date. (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 13 years ago | (#440529)

Get yourself some audio software and make your own techno and upload it--you don't even need a microphone!

It may not be OSS, but it's cool..

Reason []

Your Working Boy,

Re:Here it is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#440531)

Wow, not an entrepreneur in the bunch. Fortunately the band, Ficticicide, is. So, here's what they did...

-1. Registered the domain name
0. Formed a "S" corp as a holding company for their copyrights and to handle sales.


8. Contract with one of the CD duplicators to press 1000 CD with cases and inserts for about $1500.
9. Add a buy the album link on their page and sell their album or single.
10. Hire a manager at fixed yearly salary.


Re:My effort (1)

Ranger Rick (197) | more than 13 years ago | (#440532)

But it *is* possible. Listen to Mellow-D ( [] ) and you'll see how professional tracked music can be (although he doesn't really do guitar stuff like you do, it's all extremely experimental electronica).

1st Law Of Networking: Loose ends are bad, termination is good.

Re:What's in store? (3)

xDe (264660) | more than 13 years ago | (#440533)

Sounds like producing anything of real quality at home is still in the future.

At the moment, it depends what style of music you're interested in. Primarily synth/sample based music (particularly dance music) can, and often is, created to commercial quality at home - although not quite a normal home PC ... it usually requires more than the normal consumer-market soundcard, and a well-specified PC... music software is one of the few fields which genuinely requires fast processors. The reason, of course, is that samplers and synths (excluding analogue) are themselves dedicated digital computers - reproducing the same work in software on a PC is not much different, provided your PC can handle it. If you listen to techno/house music, it's often not possible to tell wether a tune was recorded in a home or professional studio.

The situation is diferent for recording live instruments though, for two reasons:

1.Since the sound depends on the accoustic qualities of the recording environment professional studios still have a significant advantage, in being able to afford properly accoustically designed and treated rooms.

2.Recording live instruments requires analogue equipment - in this case there is usually a clear relationship between the cost of the equipment and the quality of the sound (the article mentioned using cheap microphones - complete nonsense, at least for the present - cheap mics sound very cheap)

Neither of these factors can easily be fixed in software (although a skilled producer can certainly work around them to a certain extent). Although interesting accoustic/live band music has been made in home studios, it is extremely difficult to get the polished sound of a professional studio, and unfortunately this is often required by radio stations, without which it's extremely difficult to reach a wider audience.

Maybe now artists can retain ownership (3)

K8Fan (37875) | more than 13 years ago | (#440534)

A lot of successful artists eventually built their own studios, but they usually couldn't afford it until they were successful. That was too late, as they had already signed a contract that gave the record company the ownership of the actual recordings, a right they gave up to get that first recording session. Now, they can create the recordings right from the start, and lease the master to the record company.

I hate to quote Karl Marx, who was a doofus in most respects, but he was right about the "workers controlling the means of production". Lots of artists (Frank Zappa for instance) have had to fight to regain ownership of their own work. The really offensive part is that standard record company contracts require the costs of the recording to come out of the artist's share of the royalties...and then the company owns the recording.

The main problem, scarcely touched on in the article, is that while the equipment is cheap, architecture is still expensive. The most expensive part of a recording studio is a good sounding room. A great, inexpensive large-diaphram condenser mic won't do you any good for recording vocals if people can hear a passing bus in the background, or if your voice sounds flat from mediocre acoustics. And don't even think of recording drums in most rooms.

Sampling works fine if that's your kind of music, but it doesn't work for all genres. But most of the artists I know are working this way now...even the ones who have traditionally worked in huge, expensive studios. The inventor of multi-tracking, Les Paul was also the father of the home studio. He had microphone lines all over the house to be able to record anywhere...he even had a mic hanging over the sink in case he needed a quick vocal overdub while his wife Mary Ford was cooking dinner.

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