Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Cheap Audio Production

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the get-what-you-pay-for dept.

Music 716

OneInEveryCrowd writes "Rolling Stone reports that four out of five new albums are now produced by a program called Pro Tools (or similar packages) that costs $495 for the home version or $15,000 for the pro version. The article describes a fairly amazing savings in time and effort compared to the older ways of producing an album. I realize that a talented producer can cost a lot of money and some bands drink a lot of beer, but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

cancel ×

716 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

A rolling stone gathers no moss (-1, Troll)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862420)

Useless quote for fp!

easy (2, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862422)

the benefits aren't being passed on so that the industry can maximize profit margins. Old skool.

Word.

ProTools is a large reason modern music sucks (5, Interesting)

Faggot (614416) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862520)

ProTools, while of course being immensely powerful and featureful, is responsible for many pervasive problems with modern music:
  • over-compression of everything (ever notice how most modern music is the same volume all the time?)
  • voice-tuning (as debuted by Cher on "Love After Life"). able to make a crappy singer perfectly on-key, and since it's matured a little it's much harder to notice
  • lifelessness resulting from using the "best" parts of a recording session (a riff here, a drum fill there, a bassline there) to collage together a song. the resultant music is (surprise!) devoid of the life which comes from musicians interacting with each other
  • the same effects make it into modern songs at the same time. unoriginal overuse of ProTools plugins

it's depressing how such a featureful tool is used mainly for evil.

Re:ProTools is a large reason modern music sucks (5, Funny)

dash2 (155223) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862544)

I think you mean "Life after Love". If you believe in Love after Life, then you're pretty twisted.

Re:ProTools is a large reason modern music sucks (2, Funny)

julesh (229690) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862578)

If you believe in Love after Life, then you're pretty twisted.

I dunno, Bram Stoker made a career out of that storyline.

Oh.

Re:ProTools is a large reason modern music sucks (2, Informative)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862569)

lifelessness resulting from using the "best" parts of a recording session (a riff here, a drum fill there, a bassline there) to collage together a song. the resultant music is (surprise!) devoid of the life which comes from musicians interacting with each other

This isn't a new phenomenon. There was a recent show on VH1 discussing how this was done on the old KISS double-live album [vh1.com] from the 70's. They went into the studio and overdubbed certain parts to tighten up the music and gloss over mistakes.

Re:ProTools is a large reason modern music sucks (2, Insightful)

anna-sophia (529336) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862609)

Modern Pop Sucks. Pro Tools doesn't suck.
Just over use of plugin's, production ideas and lack of creativity.

My 2 Euro cents worth.

Re:ProTools is a large reason modern music sucks (1, Insightful)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862616)

Well, consider that most music is going to be encoded at 128kbps mp3 and passed around college campuses like the crabs.

I, too have felt the effects of these problems. 128kbps mp3 encoding should be a crime.

Re:easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862620)

It's also a drop in the bucket compared to marketing costs.

Because... (2, Insightful)

lylum (659581) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862423)

...they are greedy and wan't to keep the money themselves?

WELLL DUH (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862425)

Why would they want to pass on the savings? DUH

What a mystery (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862426)

Since when has the recording industry ever been greedy?

One Word: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862428)

Greed

Duh! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862430)

why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

Now that is a stupid question if I've ever seen one.

Audio (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862432)

Here what comes out of this sound source [goatse.cx]

simple! (4, Funny)

Arethan (223197) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862433)

but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

Because they fit better in the RIAA's pockets.

Re:simple! (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862464)

Because the RIAA thinks it fits better in their pockets.

Jason
ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]

Re:simple! (2, Informative)

hashbrownie (313486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862479)

but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

Because, as the article states, Incubus is renting a Malibu beach house to record their albums.

Maybe not as expensive as a studio, but not too cheap either.

Why? (0, Redundant)

dfiguero (324827) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862435)

but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

Because that doesn't mean that the lower production costs will make producers less greedy

Duh? (0, Redundant)

eggz128 (447435) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862438)


I realize that a talented producer can cost a lot of money and some bands drink a lot of beer, but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?


And reduce profit levels? Why would they want to do that?

Cheap! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862441)

But not nearly as cheap as this second post!

YOU FAIL IT Cheap! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862498)

YOU FAIL IT!

The Consumer? (3, Insightful)

hsmyers (142611) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862442)

To hell with the consumer, how about the artist?

Re:The Consumer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862499)

a talented producer can cost a lot of money

To hell with the consumer and the artist. The producer is the person who is primarily responsible for chart-compatible music. Artists are a dime a dozen and consumers are stupid.

Why? Hmmm.... let me think (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862443)

why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

I suspect its because 99% of the cost of producing commercially successful records is not (and never has been) studio related. Sure, studio time costs a fair bit, but never anything like the amount of money that is typically spent on publicity, production, promotion, distribution, and stuff like that.

Re:Why? Hmmm.... let me think (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862492)

Thank you. The first post in this thread that has a touch of common sense. Thank you.

Re:Why? Hmmm.... let me think (2, Insightful)

poulbailey (231304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862540)

> Sure, studio time costs a fair bit, but never anything like the amount of money
> that is typically spent on publicity, production, promotion, distribution, and stuff like that.

You forgot to add payola and litigation expenses to your list.

Re:Why? Hmmm.... let me think (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862566)

That's correct, but there's another aspect to the question which keeps me wondering: With studio costs rapidly decreasing and distribution costs almost 0 thanks to the internet, shouldn't there be a lot more competition, driving prices down? Word-of-mouth promotion is incredibly powerful, if the music is great, and publicity should follow naturally, right? That's the real question: Why isn't there more competition, now that every garage band has access to professional grade production equipment?

Re:Why? Hmmm.... let me think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862570)

Sure, studio time costs a fair bit, but never anything like the amount of money that is typically spent on publicity, production, promotion, distribution, and stuff like that.

And alcohol and drugs. Coke ain't cheep.

Re:Why? Hmmm.... let me think (5, Interesting)

PacketCollision (633042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862610)

Despite the natural reaction to such a thread (I mean who doesn't want to bash the recording industry?) the fact of the matter is that studios are still very expensive. Add to Protools (which, in the configurations I've worked with, could easily cost over $30,000) all the other gear, and a studio can easily cost in the 100s of thousands to build. A good recording engineer isn't cheap either, nor is a good mixdown engineer. The best mixdown engineers cost several hundred an hour. All the design for the cover, etc. isn't free either, nor is mastering, nor are musicicans, for that matter. That, and as the parent post stated, there are many costs that aren't related to the production.

All but the most popular albums don't even make much money (for the artests at least), where they make their money is off radio-play, which goes to the artists, not the label. But even this isn't free - you need a publicist to get your work out.

All in all, the buisness isn't as easy as sitting down in front of a computer with some software. There is a complex set of variables, and making the statement that with the advent of ProTools, albums should cost less is a gross oversimplification.

Why aren't savings passed along? (1, Insightful)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862445)

That's easy. There are 2 ways to increase profits -- raise prices of lower costs (ok 3 - you can do both). Any of the three ways results in a higher profit margin (== price - cost). To pass along savings means to lower your margin or keep it steady. Increased margins == increased profits.

Re:Why aren't savings passed along? (2, Insightful)

psychofox (92356) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862525)

In a competitive market, if you don't lower price in the face of lower costs, your competitor will - and you will lose market share and therefore, ultimately, have a lower profit.

The key point here is that, sadly, the record industry does not really represent a competitive market....

Lower Production Costs= More Profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862448)

--screw the consumer, they'll buy what we tell them to anyways

Why aren't the benefits of lower production costs (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862456)

The band gets a certain amount of money from the record company to pay for recording costs. Any money not spent goes up someone's nose.

Re:Why aren't the benefits of lower production cos (1)

DivideX0 (177286) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862596)

No, the band recieves a loan for production costs which is paid back by the band's share of the sales. The loan generally has to be paid in full before the band ever see's any money from the record.

They are as yet...u n a w a r e (4, Funny)

blakespot (213991) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862460)

Because the labels do not fully well realize, as yet, that the tapping sound is that of nails being driven into their collective coffin.

Let Apple lead the way [apple.com] .


blakespot

Re:They are as yet...u n a w a r e (1)

trainwrek (567874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862565)

Wait a minute...Apple is charging just as much (if not more) for music. And they have lower distribution costs. If anything they are only increasing profit margins.

Re:They are as yet...u n a w a r e (4, Insightful)

coupland (160334) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862567)

Apple is not leading the way. They are paying royalties to the same fools who worked so hard to prevent music ever being accessible online.

Herein lies a moral dilemma as I see it. I've long said that if the major labels had offered a good online experience with no copy protection and songs at $1 a pop I would gladly pay. Apple has now done that. However the question I now ask is: "After years of litigation, accusations, predatory pricing, and complete disregard for customers, should I finally return to financing these crooks because after they lost the war they decided to do the right thing?" I suppose the answer is implied in the question. If the RIAA had had the slightest bit of respect for customers it would never have come to this, but quite frankly I've stopped buying music and doubt I'll ever return until someone comes along who cuts the fat cats out of the profits.

Nice try... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862588)

This is a typical dumb response.

Apple's music store isn't in competition with the RIAA members. The RIAA members are making money with Apple's music store. This is a *good thing* for them.

If it takes off (which it won't), it will be the savoir of the RIAA, not the death.

Do you get that? Can you grasp that concept?

Re:They are as yet...u n a w a r e (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862606)

With the exception that Apple is selling music which belongs to the RIAA, so in effect, Apple is lining their pockets. I'm not saying it is bad that Apple is doing this, just that it isn't helping the society get rid of the evils of the RIAA.

A Link (4, Informative)

NETHED (258016) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862461)

Here is a Link [digidesign.com] to the people who make Pro Tools.

Re:A Link (1)

BinBoy (164798) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862536)

They have a free version there with limited functions. I wonder if anyone in the music industry has tried to crack it.

An Free alternative (4, Informative)

Yohahn (8680) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862538)

Here is a link to a Potential Free Software Alternative, Ardour
(at least it's being worked on, anyway)

http://ardour.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] .

The record companies eat a lot of consumer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862465)

well.... that cost has never been much of the total cost of the record to begin with.... also, the bands usually get a recording budget advance on the sale of the album, which is used to pay for time taken from their jobs at starbucks or painting houses as a psuedo-salary... so don't be suprised. Consider that the band actually makes a very small amount of money from the real sale of the album.

Not that big of cost to record label (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862475)

The cost of recording and producing a record is
very cheap compared to promoting a band. When you buy a CD your not paying for the Production your paying for the bands Brand reckognition and promotion costs not to mention all the RIAA lawyer bills, and reckord execs like a big pay day too.

Christopher Walken knows why (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862476)

Because you gotta pay for all that COWBELL, baby!

Basic economics (4, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862477)

Production savings will only get passed to the consumer when other producers are willing to compete on price - but if Band X produces their next album for $200,000 less than the previous one, why should they cut the price at all?

We already know the answer to this... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862481)

because there is no competition!

It it were a truly open market, then these increases in efficiency would be passed on to the consumer as lower prices. However, since the recording industry has done everything possible to insure that there is little or no competition, it just results in higher profits.

This is the danger inherent in monopolies and oligopolies.

Re:We already know the answer to this... (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862546)

Yay for Apple iTunes Music Store!

What does it do? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862485)

I'm still at a loss to tell what it does that is so special...

Of course it records and mixes, but what else? What is so incredible that this has, that no other software has had before??? Anyone...

I read this last week... (2, Insightful)

evil carrot (669874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862487)

...and while it does make some good points about cheap, home-brewed recording (whether Pro Tools or not) it doesn't take into account:

Using said studios
Hiring people to mix, master, and produce albums
Advertising and promotion
Paying everyone associated with the album in a fair manner aside from the artist
The fact Hilary Rosen does not have enough money.

Propellerhead Reason (1)

Medieval (41719) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862488)

I use Reason [propellerheads.se] for my music production needs.

(Shameless plug: Here [thebigfatguy.com] is some of my latest work, although I generally do dance/trance music..)

Re:Propellerhead Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862625)

Yes, and there's a bunch of people using FruityLoops as their "production environment".

That doesn't make it in the slightest a viable replacement for ProTools or Logic.

Plus, no offense, but every single Reason production I've heard so far - and that's a few - sounds the same. Low-end home production. A step up from budget 4-track cassette machines in some ways, but a step down in others.

-s*

Two interesting views on that (0)

thealpha (308746) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862491)

I had gone to the local Fye's to buy some new CDs. I picked 4 newer titles and took them to the cashier. I was shocked that the total was $80.00!!!
I don't download music, I think it is unfair to the artists (even if the label or production gets most of the money.) I don't often buy CDs as I am content with the radio. So these prices shocked me.
A friend had a different point of view. An LP when I was a kid cost $9 to $15. I remember wanting to buy the Bee Gees Sgt. Pepper's album and having to same the $14.00.
His point was that over the past 20 years, the prices has only gone up slightly and that should be expected over time and inflation.
My retort was that it should cost less to produce the media than it did to press wax so that should cancel out the inflation.
Some of you may also remember that in the late 80's early 90's a CD could be purchased for about $10.00 at a Wal-Mart, Lechmere and the such. What happened to those prices? Maybe they weren't buying as many Ferrari's for the artists and themselves.
So are they passing the savings on? I doubt it.
Are they incurring higher costs, maybe but not enough to justify $20 per CD.

Re:Two interesting views on that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862548)

Bee Gee's Sgt Pepper?

The Alzheimers seems to have set in early.

What about Protux? (3, Interesting)

ghost1911 (146095) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862493)

THere's an open source tool that I just started playing with called Protux [sourceforge.net] that just happens to be very similar to protools, but has a smooth keyboard and mouse interface. So... I guess the point of this post is that for $495 you can get the industry standard but for $0 you can get the "free" and "almost function complete-similar" tool that you could contribute $500 worth of work into to make better... IMHO a better deal :)

studio costs not the problem - marketing is (2, Informative)

alienprotocol (163384) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862494)

production cost savings would produce very little savings (i.e.: none) to the consumer.

most $ the record companies spend covers marketing and their losses on the releases that fail (which is somewhere around 9 out of 10).

They've never done it before (0)

Creedo Kid (518684) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862496)

You didn't see them drop costs when distribution format (LP,8-Track,Cassette,CD) prices dropped.. Why would you expect any different now.

Why is this news? (1)

poulbailey (231304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862501)

Hasn't Pro Tools (in one form or another) been the de facto standard for audio work for quite some time? They make it sound like Pro Tools is something new. What am I missing here?

Re:Why is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862590)

ProTools has only in the last three years begun to make its way into big time studios. A lot of the tracking done for an album is still done on either analogue high quality reel to reel or to some form of digital multitrack recorder like ADAT, DA, or the new digital harddrive based recorders like the Mackie HDR24/96. Protools is often used however for mixing and then mastering. Also, I almost guarantee that next to no bands who are a big name record on ProTools LE (the $500 version). Also, ProTools can require a lot of specialized hardware which is terribly expensive ($15k for the software then an addition $50k+ for a quality 32 channel setup). The cost in savings of a piece of software is also not going to scale well into 5 million cd's. It still requires talented engineers and producers to come up with something that is audibly viable. A lot of bands producer their own stuff these days even, but they still have engineers running their consoles, mixing, and tracking for them.

Come one.. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862503)

You're talking about a $14,505 savings. Big name producers, studio time, etc cost a LOT more than that.

Um, maybe (4, Interesting)

kalidasa (577403) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862507)

because the bands pay production costs most of the time. Here's a better question: when CDs first came out, their outrageous price versus cassettes was justified by the fact that there were only 2 stamping plants in operation. Why didn't they ever go down in price?

pro tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862508)

a pro tools setup is actually hardware based, running off dsp cards and costs around $15000 for a basic studio quality setup, the home version is software only and is basically the same as cubase or logic.

because of this price constraint, it is predominately large studios that run a 'decent' pro tools rig and charge accordingly.

also, record companies are money grabbing bastards

Alternate to Pro Tools (2, Insightful)

Ranma (3995) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862510)

Actually I do a lot of recording myself, and I've never used pro tools before, although I have heard great things.

If you are looking for a good alternative to pro tools, I am quite happy with my Tascam US-428 (http://www.tascam.com) and Cool Edit Pro 2.0(Multitrack recording)(http://http://www.syntrillium.com/)..

Infact, I just recorded an eight track demo for my friends who are in a little band, and I can tell you the quality is pretty damn good compared to the price of recording in most studios(Some run about $100 an hour). Anyway, thats my two cents.

Passing Savings to Consumers (4, Insightful)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862511)

I listen to mostly punk, and am very happy with the wonderful pricing of music. I can pick up sampler CDs for less than ten bucks to see what is really worth listening to, get samples from websites, and purchase whole, new CDs for $12 (shipping included). When I order direct, I usually get a thrown-in CD sampler and a sticker or poster.


The punk mentality has paid-off in some situations. Look at Epitaph [epitaph.com] or Fat Wreck Chords [fatwreck.com] . Not only are they highly sucessful, but are good to the bands. And, the bands are good to the fans.

Re:Passing Savings to Consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862581)

or, if you're in the UK go to cd-wow.com and get cds for an average of £9 (inc p+p), ranging from chart music to less well known stuff... or you can be an idiot and pay £15 on the high street. your choice :)

Not to nitpick, but... (2, Insightful)

MrTilney (188646) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862512)

I don't want to start a flame war, because I pretty much hate the recording industry, but there are a lot more costs involved in recording than just Pro Tools.

First, you need a good way to get that audio into your computer, and these are still expensive. The newest consumer level Pro Tools mixing board costs about $1500 and can mix 8 sources at a time. The price of larger boards increases exponentially. A professional audio DAT drive ain't cheap, and, most importantly, TO GET A HIGH QUALITY RECORDING YOU NEED A STUDIO. Good quality sound absorbers aren't cheap.

My point is, and let the flames begin, that there are still a lot of costs to sound recording. Also, the cost of producing an album isn't why they're so expensive. If that was true, CD costs would have fell when they became cheap to produce.

Old News (0, Redundant)

t4n1s (322063) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862515)

Wow thats gret rolling stone. how long has pro tools been used in the studio (mid 90s or so)?

why? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862516)

"... why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

No real competition in the industry. Any company will maximize its profits, with real competition, the products will have to be sold to someone with a choose, and all things equal people by the cheap one.
What do I mean by 'real'? Two or more competitors that arn't either locked into some forced pricing, or in agreement to price equally.

Cost of business (4, Funny)

mdwong (586868) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862518)

How else are they going to pay for J-Lo's insurance?

This is a silly argument. (4, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862522)


but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

Why do movies still cost an arm and a leg to go see when they use Linux clusters rather than SGI machines to do the rendering? Just because a company becomes more efficient doesn't mean they have to pass on the savings. What if the company was losing money until they found a way to shave a few bucks from their costs and make a profit? Are they supposed to cut their prices and continue to lose money?

promotion costs, not production (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862523)

The major costs for records are promotion and distribution, the production costs are minor. This is the same for book, software, newspapers, etc.


I suppose the question is a troll looking to prove why record companies are evil. Nothing stops you from ignoring record company promotion -- lots of bands independently produce their music. The reason you haven't heard of them is because, of course, they can't afford to promote. However, there are lots of avenues for finding them -- just go down to your local alternative music store.


It's like sheep complaining where the sheperds are leading them -- you could instead decide to stop being a sheep. If you don't like how big record companies behave, just stop buying their music -- there are plenty of alternatives.

Producers. (5, Insightful)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862524)

"...but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

Pro Tools might knock a few tens-of-thousands off the cost of producing an album, but the real cost is the producer himself. Good producers can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for a big album. In short, it doesn't matter what tools Puff Daddy uses to produce an album, all that matters is that Puff Daddy produced it.

Re:Producers. (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862611)

What matters is the idea that artists who are not backed by major studios can now produce a very professional-sounding CD.

We've see this over-and-over with RIAA... There is a lot of talent out there, it's just more profitable to pick a few, and seriously promote them.

Not as cheap as it seems ... (2, Interesting)

Mike610544 (578872) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862533)

Even with the slickest low cost hard disk recording system, there are still several other important items involved in making a good sounding recording.

1.) Microphones: It's very easy to spend $30K on mics for drums alone. Using cheap mics makes things sound like ... well like you used cheap mics.

2.) Recording Space: Without an Acoustically good space in which to record, it's easy to end up with a real thin "inside a tin can" sound.

3.) Engineer/Producer: Even in a high-end pro studio, results will be poor without some talented people running things (both technically and aesthetically.) Pro tools systems work especially well for electronica/hip-hop/modern r&b where real recording of real instruments are rare, but to get a really professional sound out of a live band, there are very few alternatives to spending some serious (sure less serious than even 10-15 years ago) money.

Lies! (0)

Malicious (567158) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862541)

There are no Pro tools! The RIAA owns the rights to all recordable medium. Making your own music will see your stomach roast in the fires of Hell!

Not talking about the high-end Pro Tools - RTFA (1)

mr_stiles (235136) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862542)

Yes, most songs are produced using Pro Tools and yes there is a consumer version of Pro Tools available for less than $500. But that is not the same version used to produce most popular songs. A much more expensive version with a number of breakout boxes and specialized hardware which makes it possible to use a vanilla G4 is used to pruduce those songs. The costs of the break-out boxes, plug-ins (mentioned in the article), and other add-ons adds up to a lot. You can end paying tens of thousands of dollars for a tricked-out Pro Sounds set up. And you still don't have a live room, mics, instruments, etc.

I would like to see the price break down for Butch Vig's $15,000 studio. I bet it's actually more when every bit of software and hardware is accounted for. And those producers are very expensive.

Pro Tools (1)

shdragon (1797) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862547)

I always knew that "Studio Magic" button in the Simpson's episode where Bart joins a boy band was really just hiding pro tools & a trained hamster.

production costs (1)

pfankus (535004) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862551)

I realize that a talented producer can cost a lot of money and some bands drink a lot of beer, but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?

This opens up a bigger can of worms than just wanna-be home music-producing-armchair musicians with a PC and dumbed-down software. Sure, anyone can buy protools, record some tracks in their basement, and mix an album (albeit amateur) and burn a few CDs for their friends. But this absolutely doesn't take the place of a well-trained, well- connected producer established in the industry. Unfortunately very few who produce their own make into the big leagues, but those who have [righteousbabe.com] , have done it quite well. But then again, those musicians are in the slim minority.

If you've taken a look at the music industry (trust me, I'm in it) lately, the money doesn't end up in the hands of the musicians, nor the producers (but they're not doing bad, mind you, if you hit the big time) but lining the pockets of the major labels. Remember, artists pay for their studio time and mixing and post-production, not the labels, who mass produce and market the albums once they are released. Besides, production isn't the major cost associated with an album's success- it's the marketing done by a major label.

Grosslyt Understated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862552)

A fully configured pro tools system capable of keeping up with the rigors of the demands of musicians and producers can easily cost upwards of $100,000. Add in $20k-$60k for reference quality audio monitors, a dozen or so microphones at $2k dollars a piece, an acoustically treated recording quality environment between $250k and $750k.

Yup anyone can go out and spend $15k and get a very powerful Protools system. But that doesn't complete the loop of George Martin, Abby Road, John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Duh (4, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862553)

Why aren't lower production costs being passed on to the consumer? Because they don't have to be. That only happens in a competetive market (I have an econ final tomorrow). One record label isn't going to cut their pruduction costs and start selling CDs at a lower price than the other labels in an attempt to win market share. They're just going to pocket more money. There are two answers why, pick which one you like:

1) The members of the RIAA are illegally conspring to stop competition in their market.

2) Since the music market doesn't sell homogeneous goods, this is just how it works. Only one label sells Britney Spears CDs and they can charge whatever they want becaue nobody else is going to compete directly against them. But a Christina Aguillera album is a subsitute good that people will turn to if the Briney album is too overpriced (I'm going to ace this final tomorrow).

-B

Someone will more than one econ class can chime in now and tell me I'm full of shit.

RTFA (1)

jargoone (166102) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862556)

Rare that the submitter doesn't even read the article thoroughly:

that costs $495 for the home version or $15,000 for the pro version.

The article says that the dude's whole studio costs $15000, not the software. If you go to the company's website, you can see that the pricing is much more complicated than that.

Good Story (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862558)

Lets take an article where we could possibly discuss the technical merits of specific software and the evolution of the recording process and turn it into a pointless discussion over RIAA business strategy that can be answered with a "duh, what are you stupid?" response.

The savings of ProTools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862562)

Rolling Stone reports that four out of five new albums are now produced by a program called Pro Tools (or similar packages) that costs $495 for the home version or $15,000 for the pro version.

Uhh. Yeah. And Rolling Stone just figured this out? I'm currently studying Audio Engineering, and the studio where I'm at uses ProTools almost exclusively (except for when they hold classes, then they use the Tascam MX2424 for learning excercises). Yeah, some studios use analog tape still, but that's usually when the producer wants a certain sound. It's going to end up digital anyway.
Another way to cut costs is for the studio to self-master the projects. Mastering is a very complex process, and there are individuals who do nothing but mastering. Studios commonly contract mastering artists after the CD has been mixed to finalize the project for mass prodction, and radio airplay. There's a LOT of stuff that goes on, and lots of money involved. Tape is expensive ($150 for 15 min of decent 2" tape). A studio ProTools setup is expensive at first, but it pays for itself down the road in time and effort saved.

[root@your.box]# logoff

Basic economics, my friend (2, Informative)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862564)

"but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

Because the costs of production to a certain degree are not related to the cost of selling a thing, particularly in a monopoly situation.

The cost of an item is realated to how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.

That is, if you make an operating system, it doesn't matter that you spend a billion dollars developing it, if you can get Windows XP for $200, then that's your price point.

So as a producer, you have to get your production costs in line with your selling price in order to make money.

However, if you have a monopoly, your pricing is basically unlimited to the degree that people can't feasibly switch away.

To put it in terms that are realted to the article, if consumers have indicated a willingness to pay $16 for a CD, then you'd be stupid to charge less. And since each "Group" is essentially a monopoly, there is no price competition to speak of.

So in that case, if you save on the costs of production, you simply make more money.

That's not evil or wrong. That's simply what you do.

Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862571)

The consumers are willing to pay the current price... why should they lower the price then?

I know! (1)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862577)

The rest of the money goes into gigantic Stonehenge monuments.. you know, like the druids. That, and custom-made amplifiers that go to 11, not 10.

They are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862594)

by independents. Jeez, does every question need to be this easy?

It's never cheap (1)

Anonymous Rockstar (624854) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862598)

It is a heck of a lot more than 15 grand when you purchase the hardware that works with protools tdm hd setup. Then you have to buy a pc or mac to support it. The equipment to record it such as mics, I/O's, peripherals, cables, HUI mix boards, preamps, keyboards, and drum machines. Plugins for tape saturation and tube emulation that helps make your music sound more analog like really gets expensive. When all is said and done it is at least $25,000 - $30,000 for the whole setup. Protools LE gets a lot cheaper though, but I doubt 4 out of 5 albums are mixed with that.

They need the extra cash... (1)

JackMonkey (631985) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862599)

...to fund their crusade on college students.

ProTools... (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862600)

... bringing harmonizer warbles to talentless singers everywhere.

Why should it be? (1)

Musashi Miyamoto (662091) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862601)

Why should the cost savings be passed onto the consumer? The only mechanism in place to pass savings onto the consumer is competition. What incentive does the RIAA have to reduce the cost of their product? Unless someone else comes along and creates a product with equal demand for less money, they will not lower their prices.

In an environment of true competition, it would be very difficult to become obscenely rich. Artificial restraints like patents, copyrights, and monopolies are the only way to become rich. (other than the lottery, if you consider that being "rich")

Savings? well... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862604)

I'm not so sure... I mean, sure it's 15k for the pro version and all... But that's just the protools setup, and if I remember right, not a large one... Besides all the interfaces, firewire drives, computers and mixing boards, a studio still has to have mics (which good ones cost thousands) eqs, effects modules (better reverb units can cost around 15-20k), vintage equipment for artists who like that sort of thing, special computing equipment and enclosures, and so on and so on and so on... Not to mention that audio recording requires specifically designed space to do it in (with soundex and all of that). It seems like if they even *suspect* you might do something audio related with a product, they slap a few hundred bucks on it...

Besides, protools has been the recording industry's baby for years and years... It's not too new... (most refuse to use anything else, despite some of it's shortcomings)

To me, not much has become cheaper... And where things have become cheaper, the industry has found ways to stay expensive... *grin*

New convenient technology bad? (-1)

CyanideHD (132907) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862605)

The White Stripes's last album was recording in a studio in London where nothing was older than 1960. They are very anti-pro tools where as the drummer from No Doubt is a procrastinator and chose to just drum for only so long and loop the rest into the song.

I really don't know where I am taking this, but I think this just people more lazy when producing music.

ease != talent, quantity != quality (1)

Kaneda (3744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862608)

certainly, the tools have been democratised, but that does not give people talent. I'm not going to go into the costs of marketting and distribution, but the reason that lower production costs have not been passed on is because they are not relevant. Just as DV cameras, cheap high quality editting software and home DVD burners are not driving down the price of making your average blockbuster movie.

You still need to be able to use the tools effectively, and those skills are not cheap. Studio time is expensive, studio engineers are expensive. The odd hit is produced completely in the bedroom, but on the whole, the mainstream music industry landscape is just not changed by the price of the tools coming down.

Oh Grasshopper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5862613)

I realize that a talented producer can cost a lot of money and some bands drink a lot of beer, but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"
Oh Grasshopper... you are close, but without understanding. Pro Tools has increased the cost of recording. Why? Because you can approach "perfection." Great take, except the bass drum quaff at 2:14, don't worry we can edit that. Well while you are at it, can we change the attack on the bass opening, sure. Ad infinitum. So in theory it should be cheaper, and if you used Pro Tools to emulate a 16 track it could be cheaper. But you can get a very good analog 16 track for less than 15K, thanks to Pro Tools. Funny how the wheel turns.

Better question (1)

etxjrh (599093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862615)

OK, so the record companies are greedy. I think most money is spent on marketing anyway. But, given these cheap tools, what alternatives are there.

Could good, well produced records be sold over the web on the back of a marketing image created cheaply on the web?

Produced, but Good? (2, Insightful)

pastpolls (585509) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862621)

Yes, most albums are produced on Pro-Tools, which is a very good piece of software. As a matter of fact, the company that makes it offers a free version [digidesign.com] (anything below win2k and OS9 only). But saying that Pro-Tools in inexpensive, therefore albums should be cheaper is like saying the a hammer builds a house, and hammers are cheap, so I should be able to build a house cheap. Pro-Tools is a tool. The most expensive parts of album creation are the musicians (yes, most artists still use actual musicians, and that includes rap artists), and the producers. A good producer will cost hundreds of dollars an hour, plus expenses. The producer will also get a piece on the backend. Also, there is the process of Mastering, which is done using a lot of outboard gear. Mastering can be very expensive.

But with that said, Pro-Tools is the Avid of audio editing (Avid is the most popular brand of professional video editing software and equipment). If you are interested in audio tracking, then definitely check it out.

CD costs (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 11 years ago | (#5862624)

"I realize that a talented producer can cost a lot of money and some bands drink a lot of beer, but why aren't the benefits of lower production costs being passed on to the consumer?"

Mayhaps because far more than "four out of five new albums" never reach the top 500, and most likely "four out of five new albums" never get heard at all by more than 1% of the population? And that those cd's that cost much are actually produced in ways that are still superior (for now)?

Or, maybe there's a conspiracy...

OR, maybe production is just a tiny fraction of the cost anyway...

OR, inflation...

OR...shall I go on? There are a lot of low-priced CD's out there. Most of my favorite music is pretty damn indy, and I would imagine that at least 95% of the stuff I listen to was produced digitally. Lots of conjecture, but hey...its what you asked for.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>