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Recording Music Without the Recording Industry

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the free-as-in-tracks dept.

Music 234

hephaist0s writes "The 2008 RPM Challenge — to write and record an original album in February, just because you can — is about to begin. Hundreds of musicians from around the world have already signed up. Last year, more than 850 albums were recorded as part of the challenge, a testament to what can be done by independent musicians without a label, without the RIAA, and often without a professional studio. The efforts ranged from an album made entirely on a Nintendo Game Boy to a Speed Racer rock opera, produced by both experienced bands and novice musicians, often in continent-spanning online collaborations. Last year's challenge generated one of the largest free jukeboxes of original music available online, built to stream on-demand all 8500-plus original, artist-owned songs. Imagine if grassroots, independent systems like this foretold the future of recorded music and its distribution."

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234 comments

Massive Copyright Infringement? Speed Racer Steal! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196118)

I'm sorry but a Speed Racer rock opera uses IP from the companies who own Speed Racer. It doesn't how much work you're doing, what you're doing isn't parody and it is stealing.

Re:Massive Copyright Infringement? Speed Racer Ste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196204)

Using characters from speed racer in a rock opera is parody!

Re:Massive Copyright Infringement? Speed Racer Ste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196222)

I'm sorry but a "claim random things infringe on IP and are thus theft" post uses IP from the companies who own everything. It doesn't how much work you're doing, what you're doing isn't parody and it is stealing.

Re:Massive Copyright Infringement? Speed Racer Ste (-1, Troll)

TNPTLgYL (1227588) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196248)

Cry me a river. All this IP isn't property crying isn't going to get around the fact that WIPO is agreed to by most nations. In the USA IP is heavily recognized and not going away. It doesn't matter how your napster morals work, they violate the law. Fan fic is often illegal, Vivendi and Lucas Arts both prosecute over fan fiction, why does it surprise you that using Speed Racer infringes on IP?

Re:Massive Copyright Infringement? Speed Racer Ste (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196430)

In the USA IP is heavily recognized and not going away
Such faith! When the USA is destroyed, where will your I"P" be? Intellectual slavery law will end. If it takes the death of the American Reich to acheive that, so be it. You're like a roman saying "slaves will always be owned in the Roman Empire". All empires must fall, and the Corporate Reich of America is no different.

   

Re:Massive Copyright Infringement? Speed Racer Ste (1)

Monsterdog (985765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197016)

Well, you're full of shit there -- LucasArts/Lucasfilm don't prosecute over fan fiction, they actively encourage it and even have very lightweight guidelines for it. Which is why there's so damn much of it out there, including full-length film productions. Paramount/CBS very lightly police Star Trek, and understand very well that allowing such productions as New Frontiers to exist encourages sell-through on the official products. That you mention Vivendi is also telling. You mean Universal/NBC? Also very lightweight on fanfic -- and they're one of the tougher crews around when it comes to being pissy about downloading.

Re:Massive Copyright Infringement? Speed Racer Ste (1)

TNPTLgYL (1227588) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197048)

Livejournal harry potter slash fiction poster found! Did you notice you said "allowed". That means they gave some permission. You're just showing that fan fiction exists by either non-action by the owning party or by the allowance of the party. What you haven't shown is that people get forced to remove such content because it infringes. Oh wait. You just confirmed that. Good one.

Re:Massive Copyright Infringement? Speed Racer Ste (2, Interesting)

xZ6JJq9J (1204080) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196230)

Using characters is not stealing or copyrightable! Trademark! A rock opera based on Speed Racer is not infringing on IP.

Hmm sounds like shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196310)

Not unlike operating systems not made by Microsoft.

Cool (1)

Sylos (1073710) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196120)

Stick it to the RIAA I say. They're not needed anymore!

Cool-Push down stairs. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196188)

I feel the same way about the IT industry. Oh wait, it's OK for other people to lose thier jobs but not you guys.

Re:Cool-Push down stairs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22197098)

If IT were rendered obsolete, sure. Personally, I regard programming as a skill as fundamental and trivial (in the original sense of the word) as reading, writing and arithmetic. All educated humans should be taught programming (NOT "Microsoft Office 101" - that is NOT computer literacy!). When that day comes, our jobs will be as obsolete as the scribe's, yes. But right now, we're in the dark ages of computing, with a priesthood (of Intellectual "Property") determined to keep us there for as long as possible, and SOME IT people allied with them.

Well fuck them, we will fight for a second enlightenment. People don't have a divine right to jobs, and the product of their labor is worth only what the market will bear, not the amount of work put into it. The Marxist communist fallacy is basically that labor determines value. Untrue! Artists who don't like our post-copyright regime can simply not produce - no skin off our noses.

Re:Cool (5, Insightful)

RicardoGCE (1173519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196468)

Ehh... There's a couple points I'd like to touch on here.

One: Yes, the RIAA is full-blown evil, and its disappearance can only be a good thing, not only for those being unfairly persecuted by it (whom these days seem to be anyone who's even heard a song they don't own while riding a friend's car), but also (even if they don't realize it yet) for the record labels themselves. The sooner they try to adapt to the changing marketplace instead of trying to plug an iceberg tear with sellotape, the better for everyone involved.

Two: However, art is not interchangeable in the same way software can be. I can say "Microsoft isn't needed anymore" because there are alternatives that perform the same functions, and often better and cheaper (or even free), but I can't say "Artist X isn't needed anymore". Because art (music in this case) doesn't merely "perform" a "function". Not good music, anyway.

One of my favorite bands ever is Gyllene Tider, from Sweden. I can barely understand half the lyrics, but their melodies are pure gold. A friend, while listening to them, mentioned a couple bands who sound kinda like them. "Why would you listen to songs you can't understand? If it's bouncy pop you want, you can get it in English". I was dumbstruck by the idea, even though I routinely tell friends "Why would you use expensive software that's broken half the time? I can install Linux for you in half an hour".

Free Art isn't like Free Software in that every artistic expression is unique. That particular expression may suck, but it's unique in its suckitude. And if you like one particular form of art, or a particular artist, there's no "switching" the way there is for software. So initiatives like this, while cool as hell, are not a way to "replace" anything. I can't imagine making a point of listening to stuff solely because it agrees with me ideologically, the same way I wouldn't drop the Star Wars films in favor of stuff like the Revelations fan film.

Of course, I may have just misread your point and am rambling on needlessly, but I just thought I'd throw it out there.

Re:Cool (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196512)

whom these days seem to be anyone who's even heard a song they don't own while riding a friend's car

Stop with the hyperbole. It helps nothing except your karma-whoring.

Re:Cool (4, Insightful)

The_DoubleU (603071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196662)

You are right that you can't a replace an artist.
But an artist can switch labels.
Do we need the RIAA? No.
Do artists need the RIAA? No.

So we can do fine without RIAA. The artist needs an audience and the audience needs an artist. Problem solved.

Re:Cool (2, Interesting)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197348)

I don't see why anyone would need this RPM thing. I am not bashing it, only questioning it, so put the flame throwers down, NOW! I ask because my brother is a professional musician. He owns his OWN label so getting recordings done, CDs pressed, etc. it easy for him. Back when it was just him he was able to do the same thing with basic stuff. He sells his music and he also gives it away for free on a burned disc, not a pressed one, BUT STILL. Even in his label contracts it tells the artists that their music WILL BE pirated, ripped and made to MP3s and they are NOT allowed to go after anyone infringing, because the contract says the consumer is not, especially when labeled on the inside cover of every CD from his label says, "Music is free, so feel free to rip, burn and distrubute this CD. Other formats like MP3 are welcome too." Simply said, he has made his fortunes by giving away his musics.

YMO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196124)

YRO, huh? Won't someone think of the artists? Anyway the issue isn't "can you make music"? But "can you make a living from music" in this day and age?

good idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196128)

music without the RIAA is like America without the beaners and jigaboos.

Not good enough... (2, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196130)

I still need to own a computer, have Internet access, and pay for the electricity to hear it. Until the music is truly free, I am still going to spend all my time complaining on Slashdot.

Re:Not good enough... (1)

Gyga (873992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196164)

Go to a major city and find a bum playing on the street. If you really like it you can donate money, but that isn't required so it is still free.

Re:Not good enough... (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196168)

Just hook up a generator to your whining and the problem is solved. You can sell the extra electricity for money, which you can use to buy music, thereby becoming both part of the problem and solution!

Re:Not good enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196200)

well lets see you come up with a way without using someone paying. we live in a resource driven society.

Re:Not good enough... (2)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196850)

We live in a market driven society. Big difference. Where the pushers convince people to buy what they don't need, or even want, but are now addicted to. They have to control that market, by being the only authorized distributor of everything.

on "Free" music... (4, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196272)

After being part of the founding of 2 nonprofits, and working many years in offering free and near-free services, I've come to the following general conclusion:
    "Free does not work long term".

What I mean is complex, and it includes many different factors. First off, living and existing requires money: for food, shelter, power, and security. There's no avoiding it. Getting great people to devote (significant) time onto projects requires that they be paid. If not, the great people go elsewhere. For short times, and for specific initiatives, one can get remarkable, free contributions: but it doesn't last very long. There needs to be a financial element to any project or organization that will create value and last long term.

The second thing to realize is that for the long-term services and groups that we do see that are both great and free to you (eg Linux, apache, public parks, etc. etc.) - someone is paying, but it's just not you. There is typically just some kind of cost shifting going on. It is either the programmer who voluntarily spending their time, the foundation donors giving money to pay the staff, EFF staff fighting to keep legal protections available, or taxation programs paying for public services.

There are increasing awareness now among people that there are several other forms of value getting passed around online that are not cash: for example (1) people's time and attention, and (2) social capital/connections and relationships, and others. When you incorporate these factors as ones of own value, then it becomes clear that absolutely nothing is "free". Someone does work to make and organize things, and they need to be paid back, or they will (eventually) move their efforts elsewhere. That payment back does not necessarily need to be only in cash: it can be in attention, credit, or other items or actions they find valuable. That said, for most artists and content creators making great work, they do need cash in order to continue to spend their time making high quality content.

Re:on "Free" music... (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196394)

Nice post. Totally agree. The only thing that perplexes me is that all respondents to my post seem to think that I was being serious. One would think that the line, "until blah blah happens, I'm going to spend all my time complaining on Slashdot" would clue them in to the fact that I was satirizing the common complaint about any forward movements in the music industry.

Flat-rate subscription services - not good enough; DRM too restrictive. iTunes/FairPlay - not good enough; DRM doesn't handle every single possible option that a customer might come up against, and music still too expensive. iTunes DRM-Free - not good enough, still too expensive, quality too low, no option for Ogg Vorbis...

And the list goes on. Truthfull, I think this event is pretty cool and I may post some of my own songs. For free. We'll see.

Gee, even the fact that I complained about having to play for electricity went over some people's heads!

Re:on "Free" music... (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196464)

I did miss your satire... but there are a lot of people, especially younger people (under 30) who have a warped sense of value for things online.

Many great things online are "free" to the user: Google search results, Facebook profiles, Yahoo events listings, attending Meetup groups, and on and on. So much so that many users are attuned to the idea that all the stuff online could be, it "should be" free for them. But someone is paying all those people who created these services, usually, in a parallel to the broken US medical system, the bill is being paid by a third party. Kmart and Sears are paying for those free search results on Google. This is the great breakthrough that made Google the giant they are: a third-party payer system for Internet services.

The satirical call you made sounds very much like many people who make the same call seriously, after seeing all the great, third-party-financed "free" stuff online and expect that everything "should" be free.

Re:on "Free" music... (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196760)

Well, the funniest was one poster who indicated that the only scenario that fit my description was listening to a bum sing on the street. Free (to the listener) public and private performances are not always by bums, nor are they always dependent on the listeners deciding to pony up. Shit; I've seen U2, Devo, Green Day, and probably hundreds of bands you've never heard of without paying a dime. Sometimes they are part of craft fares, sometimes promotional tours, sometimes the music is at a bar where you can come for free, but they assume you'll buy some food or drink.

Here in my home town of Portland, the city sponsors a huge number of events in the summer, that continue to ensure it is a friendly, family- and culturally-oriented town. The people who work those shows, and those who organize them, are probably not getting rich, but the cost is covered by all of us (taxes) so that even someone with only bus fare or an old bicycle can get across town and hear some great music while basking in the summer sun. The other thing the city gets out of it is they get to push their agenda. Public transit. Bike-friendly development. Child safety and health. Things that, in the long run, save the city money while making it more livable. It's a pretty cool way of doing things.

It's not that "free" doesn't work, it's that "free" isn't always free. You are right that someone is footing the bill. In the case of music, either the artist is giving their time, or the facility/event owner is paying, or the attendees are paying indirectly via taxes, items they purchase at the event, or items they are likely to purchase (i.e. CDs) because they were there.

The truth is, if we all contribute what we can to society--work, arts, caring for others, etc...--then there should be more than enough of everything for all of us to be able to get what we need. Money is just a way to assign value to what we bring to the table, so that we are able to determine what we can fairly take away; but not all transactions need to be so perfectly synchronous. Sometimes, giving what you can and taking what you will while keeping in mind the needs of others actually works.

OK, I'm going to end this before I devolve into my standard socialist agenda.

Re:on "Free" music... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196422)

your quite correct but the end product doesn't have to be free. a $.99 cent each mp3 of every song there would make a few bucks back. Give $.90 cent to each artist and everyone could make a little money. It won't buy much but would pay for itself. even with random piracay.

People don't mind paying for Digital music, iTunes showed us that. Give them a choice and maybe a watermark to let them know and while things will still be shared between friends, those friend will also encourage each other to go pay for a copy.

not perfect but it's a start.

on "Free" rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196444)

Great post. I recommend you read this [amazon.com].

Everyone needs a good revolution (2, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196560)

There is a chance that these musicians can end up making money from their recordings someday, a much GREATER chance than if they had tried their luck with the RIAA. Feeding all of the CEOs, lawyers, marketing, walmart, etc. is taking money out of the pockets of musicians themselves.

What MUSICIANS need is to be free of these commercial juggernauts so they can compete in the market without juggernaut approval.

Re:on "Free" music... (1)

Kavli (762663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196670)

And who says that pushing CD's is the only way of making money from music? In the old days, recordings were primarily a promo stunt for getting people to the gigs. And it were at the gigs that the musicians made their bucks.

It's, first of all, the labels that make money from shifting CD's, and unless you're crying when you see them lose their hard earned income, try the stage! And if you're so ugly looking that you think the audience will turn around and run home, try to put a paper bag over your head before you enter the stage. The audience will love you and I'm sure you'll earn plenty!

Re:on "Free" music... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22197650)

It is either the programmer who voluntarily spending their time, the foundation donors giving money to pay the staff, EFF staff fighting to keep legal protections available, or taxation programs paying for public services.
I am an established professional in non-music but also someone who has played in bands and recorded music quasi-professionally all his life. One day I decide to provide my music for free online (volunteer my time to presenting my music free of charge) in exchange for some minor attention, attribution, and musical adoration. This is just because I think it is fun and want to share my music. This seems like this fits your model just fine. I'm a busy guy and organizing, performing, and recording music is time consuming. But it is also my hobby, so I don't mind since I would do it anyway. Now, my music may not be regarded by everyone as "quality stuff", but that's just the topsy-turvy world of rock and roll. For a young band hoping to really "make it" in popular culture and have screaming fans pay their monthly rent, food, and whoring bills, "free" probably shouldn't mean "free of charge" for them.

Re:on "Free" music... (1)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197696)

Well stated. There is also a strange psychological element to "free" that I don't totally understand, but buy into -- no pun intended -- regularly myself (and I'm a "free content" kind of guy). If some product is offered substantially lower than what I mentally regard (albeit by market training) as a "fair price", I instantly become skeptical of the product. My first thought is "what is the catch?" or "this must be crap." This is something I bet most consumers do unconsciously, even other ardent "free content" slashdotters like myself. Reminds me a bit of the old "want to haggle?" bit from Life of Brian. But, in my experience, this is a real tacit effect in consumer transactions. I'm guessing it comes from the retail world where, in some ways, quality and price are often (not always!) strongly correlated; you frequently do get what you pay for and it is hard to shake this training.

That's like slavery without niggers! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196134)

Oh wait, there's always children and robots to use.

TEXAS CONGRESSMAN-DOCTOR RON PAUL, MD

Thieves... (5, Funny)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196138)

All of them are thieves and pirates, stealing money from the poor recording companies.

Re:Thieves... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196190)

The internet revolutionizes how we share and trade music. It's about time organizations form to create media of this nature. screw the RIAA, they can have their britney speares and justin timberlake

Re:Thieves... (3, Insightful)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196198)

And by working for free, they are stealing money from the professional artists. The more money a professional artist makes usually, the more are they stealing from him by taking part in this competiton. Hobbyist work should be strictly prohibited since it is, by its very nature, simply theft. And we aren't condoning theft, especially on a large scale like this, are we? Making music kills music, and a new copyright extension (prohibiting non-profit publications) should prevent that. Act now!

Re:Thieves... (2, Interesting)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196288)

.And by working for free, they are stealing money from the professional artists. The more money a professional artist makes usually, the more are they stealing from him by taking part in this competiton. Hobbyist work should be strictly prohibited since it is, by its very nature, simply theft. And we aren't condoning theft, especially on a large scale like this, are we? Making music kills music, and a new copyright extension (prohibiting non-profit publications) should prevent that. Act now!
I was at the CD release party of the first RPM two years ago and many of these "hobbyists" gave me a burned copy of their work. I'm a double thief!! I stole music from amateurs who were themselves stealing from RIAA-signed professionals! I feel so guilty.

Sarcasm aside, the music scene in Portsmouth, NH is one of the reasons I loved living there and look forward to moving back when I can. That RPM has grown so much beyond its humble roots is something I find completely awesome.

Re:Thieves... (0, Redundant)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196762)

Um, who are you talking to? I've never heard any opinion like this seriously expressed by any copyright holder, or organisation. You're not deliberately confusing copyright infringement (which devastatingly competes with the media creators, all the while relying on them) with competition (which provides a completely self-sustainable separate product), are you? I'm just asking 'cause no-one else seems to.

Noise. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196160)

Yeah, but is any of it really worth listening to? Be honest...

Oh, The Irony... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196166)

> "Imagine if grassroots, independent systems like this foretold the future of recorded music and its distribution."

<goes to site>

"Alternate HTML content should be placed here. This content requires the Adobe Flash Player. Get Flash."

Are you fucking kidding me? The future where independent music is only available to people willing to sacrifice security, interoperability and access for the imparied, for worthless bling?

Personally, I adore the RIAA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196170)

Seriously.
I'd be interested in buttsexing them a la Heath Ledger, wink wink, nudge nudge, if you get my drift*.

*(by buttsexing I mean fucking in the ass... wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more)

Re:Personally, I adore the RIAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196478)

You're thinking of the GNAA, not the RIAA. Common mistake -- both involving bending over and taking it up the ass.

Re:Personally, I adore the RIAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22197302)

We do the ass-fucking around here, boy-o.

Love,
The Recording Industry Association of America

NaNoWriMo for Music? (1)

Paul server guy (1128251) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196182)

An audio version of http://www.nanowrimo.org/ [nanowrimo.org]? That's perfect. I hope, no pray that some of these go commercial, just to show those bastards in the big industry that we don't need them...

Hell I'm going to start looking through them to look to see if any of them are being sold. If they are decent, I'll buy them...

Now if only I had something more interesting to say. Well, It's a great thing and I think we should all support anything that is independent of the big labels...

Material can be written beforehand (2, Informative)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196228)

> "The 2008 RPM Challenge -- to write and record an original album in February, just because you can"

Nope. You don't have to write the material in the month of February, only record it in February.

What the RIAA does (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196262)

The RIAA and producers aren't about making music - they make celebrities. They broker fame to those who are bound to them by contract, allowing the producers and industry to profit from the success of musicians. They control what songs radio stations can play, determine what music makes it into movies and onto television, and even what gets heard while you're riding the elevator. They wield the ability to present the masses with specific songs of their choosing.

TV shows like American Idol reveal the fact that a substantial number of people can sing really, really well. They can find hundreds of talented people easily, so you can imagine how many more are out there that either don't try out, are not within the age range they are seeking, or are simply not shown on TV. If you figure one out of every 3000 people can sing really well, then that's 100,000 really good singers in the USA alone. The job of the recording industry is to pick out a handful that fits whatever mold they are currently using, and will agree to whatever contract they put in front of them.

Of course it is possible to record music without the industry. However no-one will know about your music (unless you happen to rise about the noise of the internet, like Esmee Denters did on YouTube with her home-made webcam videos).

Dan East

Re:What the RIAA does (1)

WaXHeLL (452463) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196690)

Who's Esmee Denters?

Re:What the RIAA does (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197110)

In the event your question is serious, she's a 19 year-old from the Netherlands who made some webcam videos of herself singing various top 40 songs, like Beyonce's Irreplaceable [youtube.com]. She became extremely popular on YouTube (rather deservedly so - as an amateur she had a great deal of raw talent). Her popularity spread off of YouTube, leading to appearances on various TV shows her in the US (like the Oprah Winfrey show), she has recorded with various professionals [youtube.com], and has opened concerts for Justin Timberlake and Timberland.

She is the rare artist that is (relatively) well-known internationally solely through the internet and word of mouth. Her success is the epitome of what the 2008 RPM Challenge is about - the creation, distribution and success of music completely free of the recording industry.

Her success did not cost her any money, require any risk, or necessitate contracts with record labels.

Dan East

Re:What the RIAA does (1)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196836)

American Idol reveal[s] the fact that a substantial number of people can sing really, really well.
Have you ever seen American Idol?

/joke

Re:What the RIAA does (3, Insightful)

lavaface (685630) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197076)

The RIAA and producers aren't about making music - they make celebrities.

To be fair, there are plenty of plenty of member labels that put out some great music. Rhino and Decca,for instance, are both RIAA members and there are plenty more that shed light on undiscovered artists that deserve a wider audience. It's unfortunate that everyone thinks RIAA==Britney Spears. The music industry is as varied as the computer industry. Sure you've got your Dell and Apple, but there are plenty of smaller players (and some big ones)that make moves and money. Of course it's easier to just denounce everything RIAA as evil. Nuanced opinions are usually modded down in these discussions.

All Joking Aside... (3, Interesting)

tungstencoil (1016227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196276)

So, the problem with this idea of going head-to-head with the recording industry is that the biggest challenge(nowadays) facing an artist is not recording, not production, and not distribution, it's advertising. Let's face it - most of us "find" new music by hearing it on the radio or in some other media (e.g. a movie), at a bar, or from a friend. All of those *except* the friend are pretty much the product of marketing (directly in the form of advertising or indirectly in the form of contacts and influence).

I remember hearing (no idea how accurate, but it makes sense) that something like 10 CDs are released every day in the US (never mind how much is released only digitally). The obstacle facing the indie artist is not how to make the music and not how to get it to a fan (paying or otherwise) but how to get people to pay attention. This is the biggest thing that MySpace (personally, I hate it and it's probably not necessary to link to) and outfits like CDBaby http://www.cdbaby.com/ [cdbaby.com] have done for musicians: given fans an easy way to peruse music and find new artists in an enjoyable fashion.

Hopefully, this will have a similar effect. However, any meaningful discussion about kicking the recording industry in it's posterior side ought to focus on how this makes it easy for new fans to connect with an artist (mostly), and not just how easy or free it makes getting said music to said fan.

Re:All Joking Aside... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196538)

The biggest challenge to indie artists is writing some decent music they can perform live.

If the band are great, the audience buy the CDs, go to the web site and tell their friends. The advertising takes care of itself.

People forget that a really kick ass band can excite an audience. Most bands simply are not very good. Instruments and amplifiers have got cheaper, people have more free time and venues can get as many bands as they like for free by putting on a 'talent night'. So there are lots of mediocre bands out there.
Average songwriting with average quality home recording equals a whole lot of average.

The nice thing about the old record company system was that the recording, production and distribution was handled for the artist. They could get on with the hard part, writing the music.

CDBaby rocks (1)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196800)

CDBaby has been great for me - my band has found some listeners we otherwise wouldn't have, and I've found a couple of great other groups. I'm a big fan of the "random walk" approach to trying music, and their interface lets you listen to 2 minutes of the songs for free before buying. Much awesomeness.

Ahhh Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196806)

... I remember a time when the most insightful comments weren't score:2. Those were good times.

Re:All Joking Aside... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196870)

The net radio wave by basically djs working for free was quite a means of marketing for many without a huge record company to plaster them all over the old-stream media. I heard of many new and completely unknown (to me) bands on say, gaming radios where the djs got contacted by the bands in person and sent tracks to play by them. (ex: eve radio had a few djs doing that, at one point in time)

It's all there.

Let's just hope no one tries to make some absurd taxing to choke the freelance 'net radios. ...

Re:All Joking Aside... (1)

Kopiok (898028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197668)

Lots of people have moved from finding music from the radio to looking at recommendations, or similar artists using iTunes. I personally find new music by just looking through the genres I like in the eMusic catalog.

As more people move away from the radio and go to looking at online recommendations, it's going to be easier to find independent artists.

Some unfortunate realities also need to change (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196280)

Part of what sells albums is the promotion of the material through radio play. What is the current frequency of independent works played on the mainstream media? Pretty low if at all depending on where you live. (That's what all that "payola" scandal is about... the labels are paying the radio stations to play their tunes to promote their sales.)

And what will it take to make a shift away from the already controlled "top-40" format? Convincing the independent radio stations to play something other than top-40 for their genre. Are there any independent radio stations left? Aren't they all owned by Clear Channel now? Possibly not ALL but clearly, Clear Channel is now such a major power that they will be hard to resist when they put up a fight.

So the reality is we have a kind of locked-in system such that "big media" has locked out the little and independent guys.

It will be a difficult road to travel trying to over-throw the current locked-in system, but it's win-able. Using current media will not do the trick though. It has to be fought where the playing field is still rather level. The public Internet.

So how can it be done? Get with the wide variety of Asian hardware makers to create a flood of internet-ready media players free of any DRM. Set up a wide variety of "pod-cast" programming sites (Internet Independent Stations) sourcing from the wide variety of independent media contributed to those sites by the artists and/or owners of the material. Then daily, people can "tune" into their favorite station(s) of the day or of the week to download their new play lists and listen to fresh new quality stuff every day instead of listening to the radio.

Radio is convenient, but the quality is low and everyone knows it. This is why satellite radio is still growing in popularity -- better content control and much more variety... something you're not going to get from the current locked-in system that exists on terrestrial radio.

These internet-based pod-stations will get by any restrictions or resistance people might have about satellite radio as the devices they select will be their own and have use in ways other than internet pod-cast downloads.

This is a very workable strategy considering how eager these Asian manufacturers are to sell their stuff. We have a tremendous demand for such gear in the US as well if the iPod's popularity is any indicator. Further, as I witness the popularity of "internet radio" in offices across the U.S., a system that behaves similarly would be rather popular as far as I can tell.

There's a huge, untapped area of media just waiting for the consumer public if some enterprising folks were willing to put the risk out there to give it a try. There's a lot of willingness on the consumer end and a lot of willingness for independent operators and independent artists as well. We just need a little unified interest to make it happen.

Re:Some unfortunate realities also need to change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196650)

Are there any independent radio stations left? Aren't they all owned by Clear Channel now? Possibly not ALL

POSSIBLY? Think again, horse-dick: WXRV, Boston [wxrv.com]

You can't (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196306)

You can't because, when you do your independent production, whether you say so or not, you are *part* of the industry, even redefining it.

Another good source: (4, Informative)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196314)

Something like labels will exist for a good while (4, Insightful)

weston (16146) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196334)

Label-free production isn't a new thing -- we're probably at least a decade into the era where anybody could pick up the basic tools to produce an acceptable quality album for less than $3000, and really, that would have even bought you enough time in some conventional studios to have them do it. I've heard some good albums produced circa mid-90s this way.

And internet distribution isn't really that new anymore. That's also been happening to some degree since the late 90s, and it obviously had gathered considerable momentum by 3-4 years ago. We're not at the end of that trend, but once wireless data service becomes ubiquitous, it's pretty safe to say the old distribution channels (record stores & FM radio) will be outmatched.

But there's still going to be a significant distribution challenge, and that's marketing. If anything, I think it's possible it will get harder. I kindof wish I'd gotten myself together and produced something high quality about 3 years ago, because I think someday, people are going to look at 2000-2005 as the easiest period for an indie artist to get attention, just like 1997-2001 was the easiest period to get a start as a high profile blogger. The wide net of participants increasingly means greater competition for attention.

Some people will be willing and able to pay for people to help them get it. Something like a label will exist for that purpose for a long time.

Re:Something like labels will exist for a good whi (1)

ringm000 (878375) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196628)

The cost of marketing relies on the existence of a limited number of huge and expensive pipes shoved down people's throats. As soon as the majority realizes there's a innumerable series of tubes out there in the interwebs, driven not by corporate greed but by interests of like-minded people (blogs) or by your own interests (collaborative filtering similar to last.fm), marketing will suddenly become free for any good stuff.

Re:Something like labels will exist for a good whi (1)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196838)

Label-free production isn't a new thing -- we're probably at least a decade into the era where anybody could pick up the basic tools to produce an acceptable quality album for less than $3000, and really, that would have even bought you enough time in some conventional studios to have them do it.
You make some great points. However, back in the 80s we did all sorts of label-free production on 2, 4, and 8 tracks (magnetic media) which we could distribute (in a grass roots sort of way) on our own with very modest budgets. I know what you are going to say: "but they all sounded like crap." But they really didn't sound that bad. Even in our living room, we put a lot of energy into the mechanics of placing microphones and other modest production details. The results were often quite good. I do some home recording now, using fancier gear than the 80s, so do appreciate your point that the average joe today can have almost the same sound quality as a pro studio. But those early tapes still sound surprisingly good (perhaps the ringing in my ears or nostalgia is masking the effect -- it is hard to tell the difference sometimes). Nevertheless, I maintain that label free music production has a fairly long history. A little TLC in production (and having reasonable material to begin with) goes a long way toward creating quality label-free products regardless of your gear .

What has the RIAA got to do with this? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196346)

"Last year, more than 850 albums were recorded as part of the challenge, a testament to what can be done by independent musicians without a label, without the RIAA, and often without a professional studio." People make music in their home studios all the time. Make some albums that have the quality and production values of the top selling commercial acts. At the moment, from what I have heard, the music does not compete with what the RIAA members offer.

Slashdot spin (4, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196362)

I guess the RIAA has to get mentioned in any Slashdot story about music, but I don't really see this is about 'sticking it to the RIAA'.

It seems to me it's more about just giving people a goal and a deadline - a cure for procrastination and all the other stuff that gets in the way of finishing things.

Re:Slashdot spin (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196820)

A competition like this builds visibility. More people will realize that independent people are creating good music and giving it away for free. When people can get more of their music for free, they will probably spend less on commercial music. Thereby sticking it to the RIAA.

its like some kind of cluster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196426)

"Imagine if grassroots, independent systems like this foretold the future of Sarah Connor"

For the love of god I'm not very old (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196472)

But when I read this all I thought was "that'd be a cool turntable to see spin, 2008 rpms is insanely beyond standard".

Great project and great fun (1)

I_am_mccool (961083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196524)

I think people are focusing on RIAA and that too much. This is a great project and is a lot of fun. People should sign up for the creative challenge and rewarding experience. I have participated the last two years and have signed up again!

Re:Great project and great fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196834)

Soooooo... is the music you have created good and pleasant to listen to, or is it absolute shit masturbatory math-rock that only fellow Asperger syndrome musicians will appreciate?

Tell us the truth now, McCool. We want to slather "Wet" brand lube on your micropenis and rub away! Let's watch you cum, to see how high you can shoot!

"Wihhhhhhhh!" I_am_mccool trumpeted, as his partially-clogged urethra filled with semen-pus. "My prostate is pulsating!"

"Good... good... good, son," his mother panted, breathless from exerting her withered muscles. She pumped his "thing" a few more times, and a microliter of lumpy seed bubbled undramatically from his pinsized hole.

2007 torrent? (2, Interesting)

caveat (26803) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196536)

Anybody know if there's a torrent (or for that matter any centralized way to download) of the 2007 collection? I'm finding it pretty likeable, but that jukebox is really NOT doing it for me...I'd much rather have them stored locally and use iTunes (or WMP or xmms, point being I want them on my drive).

What? No way. (4, Insightful)

7Prime (871679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196554)

You're asking me to spend time and money to produce an album, and then give it away? I'm all about the spread of the arts and aesthetics, but producing a good album takes A LOT of money, and time.

I do a lot of music composition and production, myself. I spent $2500 this year on a new mac pro, upgrades to the latest versions of Digital Performer, Native Instruments Kontakt, EWQLSO Gold. I bought a bearbones Digidesign interface for $400, own a $1500 synthesizer, and two $100 microphones, and I'm NOWHERE NEAR capable of producing a rock/pop album. For that, I'd need to spend another $1000 on a 8-channel audio interface, $400 in decent overhead mics for drums, and probably a few more SM57s. On top of that, a good set of mixing plugins for my DAW (like Waves), is a good $800. To build a recording studio capable of providing even the most MINIMAL of recording environments is upwards $8000, and that's with cutting a lot of corners.

No, while I have the potential to record and produce keys, guitars, and vocals, I'm taking drums to a studio, where I'm going to pay a couple $100 an hour.

And then you ask me to give it away? Fuck you. That's not "free", that's negative. Even to do music for the joy of it, money's gotta come from somewhere.

Re:What? No way. (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196888)

I think the common Slashdot perception is that you, and others like you, are expected to release your stuff for free, and then simply go on tour to recoup your costs and pay for your investment of time. Musicians who can't or won't play live apparently have no place in the new musical utopia.

I'm all for a future market in which there's less reliance on record companies that provide A to Z services -- in fact, I'm helping create it. But for far many people, information just wants to be freeeeeeeee, and in order to make that vision a reality, a lot of musicians will have to change their motivations. The odds of this happening are about as likely as all the coders and IT professionals in the world suddenly being comfortable with no longer being paid for their work.

At any rate, I listened to your demos on your web site -- they're pretty good. Sort of Gordon Lightfoot meets Alan Parsons. And I mean that in a good way.

Re:What? No way. (2, Interesting)

zeroweb (872966) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196906)

What else are you going to do?

Try to sell your music online? Good luck being found and cared about.
Get a record deal? Have fun with the paperwork.

Personally, I've done all the hard work, spent the money AND given my music away for the last 8 years. And I'm satisfied. Not rich, not famous, but hey, not frustrated. I wish the situation was better, but you got to stand up and make it better - not stand up and complain

That is why I even built a site to help other artists do the same as me: http://alonetone.com/ [alonetone.com]

You must think I'm a complete nut ball. Not only am I giving away my music, but paying out of pocket for others to do the same! (bandwidth)

I think it is the wise move. If radiohead is giving away their music, it is a sign. Unless you are famous, you better be giving it away, else sit there wondering why noone wants to drop $15 anymore. How CAN you make money? That is another discussion, and is currently being tackled by SO many artists, companies, and folks like you and me who are doing it on their own.

Re:What? No way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196918)

I've seen it done for 6 grand, top to bottom (IE, his figures included internet, your's don't). The guy made a decent penny off the remix album he released after his free stuff got popular too.

Though I do have to wonder, (and I've never done much mixing myself) why on earth would you need a $1000 8 channel audio interface if you're ultimately producing (at best), 16 bit, 44100, 2 channel audio?

Dont waste your breath (Re:What? No way.) (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196946)

Your typical ./'r just doesn't get it, nor do they care. They just want to be able to download or rip whatever they want, whenever they want and do whatever they want with anyones work, no matter how hard the person had to work to create it, no matter how much time it took them and lets face it, time = money, or chicken, bread, soup, laundry detergent, orthodontist appointments, light & heating bills or whatever.

I think your estimate is a bit low though, I would say to come up with a decent ( very small ) recording studio is going to cost more in the neighborhood of 10-15K and the sky is the limit.

I think music without the recording industry is great, musicians just have to find a way to be able to "quit their day job" without them, and then figure out how to be in every music outlet in ever city at the same time while listening to every commercial on television & radio and...

Well you get the point.

Re:What? No way. (Yes way) (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197010)

Giving away music actually does work.

You're asking me to spend time and money to produce an album, and then give it away? I'm all about the spread of the arts and aesthetics, but producing a good album takes A LOT of money, and time.
A lot of artists in seacoast New England thought the same thing for a long time and realized that the financial and time costs of aesthetic perfectionism were preventing them from actually creating art. RPM isn't about creating your magnum opus in a $100/hour studio with $many-thousand gear; It is about breaking inertia. The RPM Challenge provided the impetus for hundreds of bands to finally make a demo of their stuff lying around in notebooks half-finished for months or years.

No one signs any exclusive contracts to submit to RPM. Everyone is free to sell their RPM album or re-record it under better conditions later.

I know on at least three occasions in 2006 I saw bands when they were playing in Portsmouth or Dover NH because I saw a bill/poster and recognized the name from the RPM jukebox. (Of course in 2007 it was a lot bigger and less regional, but that's why the Jukebox sorts by city).

Re:What? No way. (1)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197086)

You're asking me to spend time and money to produce an album, and then give it away?
Fuck you. That's not "free", that's negative. Even to do music for the joy of it, money's gotta come from somewhere.

So don't participate. No one's forcing you.

Incidentally, there's a reason it's called a challenge. Lots of people will take this opportunity to get past the excuses and actually put something out there.

And guess what... we'll soon be actually listening to their music, and we won't be listening to yours.

Re:What? No way. (2, Insightful)

chainLynx (939076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197220)

Welcome to the future. The alternative to not giving music away for free is having no one listen to it.

Re:What? No way. (1)

mattsgotredhair (945945) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197406)

Where are you going that's going to cost a couple hundred an hour?! You must live in LA or NY... otherwise, shop around, I'd hope you can find a better arrangement than that.

7/10 - Nice troll, would feed again (4, Funny)

soupforare (542403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197550)

I'm NOWHERE NEAR capable of producing a rock/pop album.

...Digital Performer...Kontakt...two $100 microphones...
I'd wager the only thing getting in your way is you.

Re:What? No way. (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197748)

While your argument makes sense if you don't already own all the gear, and if you are in a genre that requires a lot of hardware, but not everyone is. My setup for electronic music is all paid for already, and is mostly software-based, so the cost to me will just be time and 1 blank CDR. I take issue with 2 points you make:

1) You don't have to give away the album, just give 1 copy on a CD-R to the organisers if you want them to use their bandwidth to give your music exposure on their jukebox. You are free to licence the music any additional ways you like. I took part in last year's challenge with a group of friends from a music-related mailing list, we pressed up 100 CDs for sale, and we also decided to offer free mp3 downloads [music-bar.org], but that was our choice not theirs.

2) You don't have to spend a lot of time on your album, in fact you are probibited from doing so, you have to make it in 1 month!

This year I'm going to make a whole album, collaborating with a friend from another county. I'm not doing it for fame, or for profit, I'm doing it because I'll learn a lot from the process of comitting to a tight schedule, and from attempting a musical style I've not tried before.

and no one made any $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22196562)

And not one of the artist made any money...way to go...that's how you stick it to the record industry...work for free...that'll show 'em

The DEB Challenge (3, Funny)

kilgortrout (674919) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196626)

Meanwhile the Debian community has announce their competing project, the 2008 DEB Challenge.

Re:The DEB Challenge (1)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197400)

No worries, you can use alien [debian.org] to listen to the songs. They will just be scattered across your system in really weird directories.

Write free music? Join alonetone.com (1)

zeroweb (872966) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196716)

Good timing! I just launched alonetone which gives musicians hosting, distribution, sharing tools - for free - in a non-commercial environment (no company, no ads, no bullshit). Kind of like free album month, but as a way of life! If you are a musician, or know music makers who need a good online home, let them know about us! (for the interested, it is using ruby/rails and s3, which means I can deliver about 250 mp3s for around 18 cents. Not bad. And yes, it could scale huge and become too costly for me myself and I to maintain, but no, I won't worry about that till I get there!)

No audience right now (1)

opencity (582224) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196882)

"Everybody's in show biz, everyone's a star ..." We're all on stage looking at each other, the paid seats are getting emptier. (is that like the blogosphere?)

Increasingly all the people interested in music actually make and play music as opposed to being purely consumers. This is probably good, was inevitable, and makes it harder and harder to stand out. Technology has made music much easier to make: tuners, protools, midi whatever - this is the (middle of?) the age of sound sculpture. The sound of lab rats digitally manipulating sound with no deadlines.

The best way to monetize music in the future will be playing live and getting a piece of the door and beer. Hopefully there will be at least a few crews/bands/orchestras that can make enough of an event to work full time and also maintain an artistic impulse.

Without the industry there's no money for the lawyers:
('...choak ... you're letting down the lawyers man ...')
and radically less money for publicists, roadies, engineers, soundmen, (web)designers. There's some money for the players, but not compared to the seemingly infinite supply of singer songwriter indie rock rapper college jazz graduates.
It's gonna be like sports. Lots of people play basketball. Only the very best get paid much money for it.

While I shed no tears for the major labels, I roll my eyes in advance at the incoming 'if they made good music the sales wouldn't be down' posts. All art forms are a function of their time (with apologies to Camille Pissaro) - The popular music of the 20th century was very good and deep and is available for free or cheap forever. The popular music of the 21st century hasn't started yet and will probably stay in the background of the Zeitgeist.

 

Loads of free content is cool but... (4, Interesting)

localman (111171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22196900)

As a wanna-be artist who's recorded an album [3honkees.com] or two [lisasleftovers.com] myself, there is an anxious excitement about the possibilities of self-recording, self-distribution, and self-promotion. When the internet was first taking off I thought it was going to crack the lid off of independent art, and soon listeners would have a wider variety of better quality stuff and more creative people would be able to find their audience.

To some degree, this is all true. There's a lot of stuff out there, and most artists can find some fans. But in the end it hasn't practially changed much: being in an internet band is about as important as being in a high-school band. The difference is that the 100 people that love you can now be spread across the world instead of just the town.

I think that most listeners really don't want better stuff (even by their own standards): they'd rather listen to stuff that their friends listen to. It's fun to be into popular music, and that's what most people do. They seek out popular music so that they can feel like they're part of something. I don't intend this as a put-down: they just want to enjoy life and I'll admit it's usually more fun to be into an okay-by-me-but-super-popular song than a more-to-your-liking-but-generally-unknown song. Because you can talk about it and play it at parties and people love it. Social interactions matter to music.

Even people like myself, who are drawn to listen to less popular music -- there's just so much stuff I don't feel I need any more. I get all the media I can handle already. So overall as an artist I'm sort of accepting that the way the world functions doesn't financially support all the musical artists who want to be. It doesn't even support all the musical artists who could qualify as great. There's a lot of great artists out there, and only enough opportunity for a tiny fraction of them.

It's kind of a let down, but I'm getting used to it. In the end, you can always make stuff you like, and probably find a few fans. You just won't be able to quit your day job.

Cheers.

PS - this is not based on lack of acceptance of my own musical endeavors, which are admittedly (and intentionally) dumb shit, but rather based on observing other artists

Well I gave it a fair listen and... (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197132)

For the most part it was just bad to mediocre.

Now I must confess there were some bright spots, but they were far and away the exception.

Mostly is was all badly mixed / mastered. The vocals were muddy and buried. When instruments took solos they tended to be either punched up WAY to much to the point that they were completely out of context, or not at all and the talent was lost in the background noise. Again this is bad recording engineering and thats why well recorded music that really represents what we hear live takes a damn good recording engineer and those cost money baby, especially when it comes time to master the tracks

Perhaps all of this can be sat at the feet of someone doing the encoding falling down on the job, but I kind of doubt it, since most encoding software, even at defaults, gives a pretty good representation of the original input. Something is going on there, your guess is as good as mine.

The best example I can give people to have a reference for truly GREAT recording engineering is Steely Dan. Say what you like about their talent ( which I think is HUGE ) or their VERY heavy reliance on the best studio musicians for both recorded and live performances, but the recording engineering on their work, always has been and always will be second to none. If you really want to know what great recording engineering is, listen to anything they have ever recorded, the work IS the art of studio recording.

The most fascinating part is that their recorded music usually survives the worst mauling by some idiot MP3 encoder to the point that it is still pleasant to listen to,

I have pantented music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22197146)

I have applied for a patent for combining sounds from musical instruments, voices, and electronic sources for the purpose of entertainment. So make music at your own risk.

The Problem with the Music Industry. . . (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22197372)

is that there are too many good musicians. Right now I could go out to at least five different local bars which all have excellent musicians playing and I don't live in a big city. Sometimes when there's a decent amount of people over at my house there will be at least a half dozen talented musicians around. It's supply and demand. Music isn't worth what it once was because musical talent isn't rare, musical equipment isn't expensive, and because music is so prevalent and good no one wants to pay money for it. And let's face it, you get a better experience going to the bar and paying a $5 cover to watch an amazingly talented amateur than you do when you pay $50 to see a "rock star." Drinks are cheaper and the ride home is shorter, too. Good music is a commodity and is by no means profitable for record companies. Celebrity personalities are what the music industry deals with today. They need people who can sell t-shirts, posters, and appear in t.v. ads. They need people who can cameo in movies, people who have an interview presence. If you don't like the way the music industry is, then blame Kurt Cobain and Napster. Cobain proved that serious artists are more of a liability than an asset to the record companies. Ever since he blew his head off record companies have sought people who want to be famous first and an artist second. And really, who can blame them? It's just economics--if we had moral record companies then the industry would have gone bankrupt when Napster hit.

As a musician I'm not particularly happy about the state of the music industry but the only thing I can hope for is that the majority of guitarist in the U.S. keel over a die for no apparent reason. As long as there are guys playing at the bar who are better than me who can't become rock stars I'll have no great expectations. I'll have succeeded when I'm the bar star, when I get paid a couple hundred bucks to play a bar. As a musician, that hundred bucks for a night says more about my music than the millions a night I'd make if I played sold out arenas singing whiney music about my libido to teeny boppers. And really, there's nothing wrong with that. So I'll always have to have a day job, but in no way does that compromise my artistic integrity. Most rennaissance painters never became famous and the ones that did usually remained close to anonymous throughout their own lifetime. It's not like being famous validates the work; if any artist feels that way then their art has failed before even started. I guess it sucks that no one will pay me millions for playing music, but at the same time the whole rock star thing is a bit ridiculous. No one expects to get rich painting - artists who get paid make logos, storyboards, and marketing materials. That doesn't mean the canvas art "industry" is in a sorry state - it's just evolved past being special and is now commodity.

Not quite what the RPM challenge is about..... (2, Interesting)

hoopshank (1113275) | more than 6 years ago | (#22197684)

Actually, the RPM challenge is to record an album in the month of February. There is nothing to say that the album should be written during that month.

There IS a web site that encourages writing an album in a month - and it FAWM.org (February Album Writing Month). The RPM challenge took this as inspiration and set up in the same month with slightly different criteria and has been better publicised. For it's first two years, RPMchallenge.com paid tribute to FAWM.org but now seems to be big enough and arrogant enough to have stopped paying tribute to the place it got its ideas from.

This is all fine in the world of capitalism but it still seems pretty uncool to me.
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